The City of Whitefish will celebrate its 100th birthday with bunting, banners and blue and green balloons (the city colors) on Thursday, April 14. A centerpiece of the celebration will be the excavation of a time capsule sealed in the city’s Masonic Temple by community members in 1915, 10 years after Whitefish’s official incorporation.
“We know very little about it,” says Walter Sayre, a historian with the Stumptown Historical Society in Whitefish. “All I have at the historical society is an article in the paper that said it was a casket containing a time capsule in the cornerstone of the Masonic building.” The capsule’s contents will be unveiled at the Masonic Temple at 3 p.m. on April 14, though most of the actual excavation work will be done beforehand because, as City Councilman Erik Garberg puts it, Whitefish’s Centennial Committee wants to avoid the potential disappointment of an “Al Capone’s vault type thing.”
Meanwhile, the Whitefish of 2005 is busy planning its own time capsule to provide a glimpse into life in the city at the dawning of the 21st century for Whitefish residents who will presumably open the capsule in the year 2105. The new time capsule will include a map of the Big Mountain ski area, essays from local Girl Scouts on what they think life will be like in 100 years, and contributions from the American Legion, the VFW and a local history class. Once complete, the new capsule will be sealed alongside the repacked old capsule in the base of a planned bronze statue commemorating the city.
And how does this mountain town want itself to be seen in a century’s time?
“We still have a downtown and a Main Street that hasn’t been homogenized to look like the rest of the U.S. yet,” says Centennial Committee member and LJ Communications President Lisa Jones. “We still maintain the integrity of a small town. Those are the things that we’d like to be remembered for.”