TURNER — Some 150 Turner residents got a special peek into life in their town 50 and 100 years ago Sunday evening during the Century Box Jubilee, as officials opened two time capsules — called century boxes — from 1923 and 1973 at Leavitt Area High School.

The jubilee was a combined effort between the town, the Turner History Museum and Turner Library.

The first century box was created to honor veterans of World War I, then known as the Great War, and the second box was created to continue the tradition of preserving Turner’s history and culture. It was started by the Turner Grange Hall, the largest in Maine at the time with 400 members, now surviving with just 12, said Natalie Pilsbury, treasurer for the history museum.

“If you have a teenager, you can still see 50 years later what went into the box,” Pilsbury said. “We’re just hoping it will be a surprise for everybody, to continue the tradition.”

Among the contents of the 100-year-old box, which was crafted from copper off the sunken U.S.S. Maine, were letters, essays, newspaper clippings, photographs, magazines, coins, stamps, badges and pins, and other niche items — like the June 1923 telephone directory and the town’s annual report. Also in the box was a book of stamps pledged to the youngest person in the 2023 crowd, baby Alarabeth Ranger.

In addition to the box, more than 600 Turner residents were convinced to invest $1,800 in a compound interest fund, in memoriam of veterans of the Great War, for the town’s future needs, either debt or educational purposes. That $1,800, which today would be valued at $31,000, has grown to $117,000 adding the accrued interest.


Crafted out of copper from the roof of the Maine State House, the 1973 box had much of the same type of items, but a few that stood out were a letter from then-Governor Kenneth Curtis, Archie and Woody Woodpecker comic books, a Sears catalogue for the 1973 Christmas season, Matchbox cars and a Martin Stream Campsites flyer, among much more. One special surprise was a class photo that included second-grader Patrick Dempsey.

While other communities throughout Maine and the rest of the country spent time fundraising for monuments and memorials, co-emcee Isaiah Davis said Turner was quite literally ahead of its time in preserving the present as a way for future generations to peek into the past.

Davis, who is also a Leavitt Area High School history teacher, and fellow emcee Amanda Hill of News Center Maine, are “just a couple Turner kids,” as Hill put it.

“They were so honored by the people who came before them and the people who started Turner, and they wanted to make that same sort of impact,” Davis said. “(And) they wanted to do something that would last and would honor the sacrifice and service of veterans.”

Hill introduced Sen. Jeffrey Timberlake, another “Turner kid,” who made remarks and read letters from the 131st Legislature and from Gov. Janet Mills.

The American Legion Turner Memorial Post 111, Cub Scout Pack 187 and Boy Scout Troop 187 led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Laurie Sidlinger led the National Anthem. The jubilee speaker, Margot Dudley, focused on the changes in Turner as well as many things that persisted through 50 years.


Abby Terreri read aloud the 1923 prophecy, written by a woman envisioning her great-great grandson flying to and from places in a small personal airplane.

Leavitt 2023 Graduate Iris Petrin focused her speech on how Turner seems to fare so well even with so many changes over the years.

“Turner is now more urbanized than it was even five years ago, let alone 100 or 50,” Petrin said. “But no matter how modern Turner becomes, it will always be Turner. I think the reason so many families stay in this community for so long and why people are moving into Turner is because there’s an inherent goodness about this area.”

The contents of both boxes will be on display at the Turner History Museum on Tuesday from noon to 7 p.m., Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Turner residents and students are nearing the end of scouting contemporary items for the 2023 century box. The closing ceremony for all three boxes will be held 4-6 p.m. Sunday at the Leavitt Area High School Auditorium.

Comments are no longer available on this story