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Help Solve the Mystery of the Missing Monmouth Mall Time Capsule

In 1960 a time capsule was buried at the Monmouth Shopping Center. Its current whereabouts are unknown, Patch readers can now help solve "The Mystery Of The Missing Monmouth Mall Time Capsule."

Fifty-two years ago this month, the Monmouth Shopping Center (now the Monmouth Mall) was dedicated on February 12, Lincoln’s Birthday, to “the famous Americans of Monmouth County-past, present and future.”  The Red Bank Register Reported at the time that those words were inscribed in marble over a time capsule which was placed at the base of the center's three flag poles.  Several photos from that day are seen here in the photo gallery. 

As part of the dedication ceremony, local Boys Scouts, Explorer Scouts and Cub Scouts from Eatontown placed objects from the past into the time capsule including a financial ledger kept between 1817 and 1833 by Peter D. Vroom, who was a former governor of New Jersey and a land purchase document written in 1783 by Maj. David Forman, a Revolutionary War veteran.  Both men were Monmouth County residents. Objects representing the present and the future were also placed into the time capsule including a architectural plan of the center and a copy of the than newest Boy Scout Handbook. 

As you can see from some of the photos, the site was well marked and believed to be in the area that is now a parking lot boarded by JC Penney (to the west), the underground entrance to the mall (directly in front of it to the north) and the part of the mall which houses the mall offices to the east.  Winding the clock ahead 50 years brings us to 2011 when Eatontown resident and current Eatontown Museum President Kathy English saw a post on a Facebook page called “Growing Up In Eatontown” that contained information about the Monmouth Shopping Center's dedication.  Upon further research, Kathy found an article in the Feb. 29, 1960 edition of the Red Bank Register which detailed the dedication of the shopping center as well as details about the time capsule. Those articles can be viewed at this link stating on page 21 which is the first page of section 2 of that day's paper.

http://209.212.22.88/DATA/RBR/1960-1969/1960/1960.02.29.pdf

Although the exact location of the time capsule was in question, conversations with people who were present that day have led to the almost certain conclusion that it was in the area described above which is believed to have been paved over to provide additional parking when the shopping center expanded and became the Monmouth Mall in the mid-1970’s. 

The mystery deepens!!!  Despite the best efforts by Kathy and other members of the museum, the contents of the time capsule not only have not been located, nobody has been found who could even provide a hint as to what might of happened to them.  The best guess is that the time capsule was removed when the parking lot was expanded to its present state. 

So this is where help is needed from Patch readers.  If you or someone you know worked at the mall in the early/mid 1970’s, worked for the company that owned the mall or might have worked on construction at the mall during that time, the Eatontown Museum would like to hear from you if you can help solve the mystery. 

You can leave a message at 732-542-4026 and of course comments/information are also welcome right here on Patch.

Another article in the Red Bank Register regarding the mall is from the March 2, 1960 edition which detailed the opening day of the Monmouth Shopping Center one day earlier:

http://209.212.22.88/DATA/RBR/1960-1969/1960/1960.03.02.pdf

On August 16, 1975 a special section of that edition (starting on page 21) detailed the Monmouth Shopping Center becoming the Monmouth Mall.

http://209.212.22.88/DATA/RBR/1970-1979/1975/1975.08.18.pdf

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jacqueline Naimoli Ilvento February 20, 2012 at 04:39 AM
I grew up in Eatontown and often "hung out" at the mall as a teen-ager. If my memory serves me right, I remember 3 flagpoles outside between where Luca's Pizza and The Ground Round once stood.
Bob English February 20, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Hi Jacki...roughly what year would be your earliest memory be of the flagpoles in that area? We know they were moved from the original location but not sure exactly what year. Assume it was around the time of the expansion in the early/mid 1970's. Have not been able to find any information of what became of the time capsule when the flags were moved.
Jesse February 20, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I remember a flagpole / sitting area at the western entrance of the shopping center; facing the mall, Montgomery Ward/Alexander's/Caldor/movie theater would have been to the right; the entrance to the downstairs civic center/Storer Cable offices would have been to the left. My parents and grandparents used to park in that lot and sit me down at that flagpole area when I was little (early to mid 60's). I remember them saying something about a time capsule in that area, because my older brother was a boy scout around that time. I find it sad and disrespectful that the mall owners paid such little mind to something historical like a local time capsule and allowed it to be lost and paved over.
Bob English February 20, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Jesse....thanks for your thoughts and memories. The time capsule was well marked at the time it was buried with the marble top above it. We think its unlikely that the area would have been paved over without it being removed first however we do not have any information to confirm that it was (removed.)
Sherry February 21, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Please keep us informed if you do find out the answer to the mystery. Enjoyed going back in time.
Bob English February 21, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Sherry...we certainly will keep everyone informed. We are trying to get specific info on when the flags were moved from their original location since that is also likely when the time capsule would have been moved/removed also.
flyerjon February 22, 2012 at 06:13 AM
any money in it
Kathy English February 22, 2012 at 03:24 PM
No Money just documents to: Past,Present and Future in the Boy Scouts eyes.
Bob English February 23, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Thank you to Tom Fary for adding old overhead photos of the Monmouth Shopping Center. The 5th photo shows the original location of the flags. The little white thing in front of the middle flag is the marker for the time capsule.
Thomas E Fary February 23, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Anytime Bob and Kathy, that was an Eatontown Museum photo.Great job on your part Bob and Kathy for bringing this quest to the Patch, hopefully more people will see this and you'll get some answers.
Bob English February 25, 2012 at 12:28 AM
To recap, while we think we know where the time capsule was buried in 1960, what we are trying to find out is what happened to it when the flagpoles where relocated. Not sure what year that was but most likely by 1975 when the Monmouth Shopping Center became the Monmouth Mall.
Bob English January 31, 2013 at 03:16 AM
Brief update: Still a mystery as to what happened to the time capule. A friend did send an aerial photo from 1979 that appears to show the flagpoles and time capsule still in their original location. That is several years after we thought they would have been removed. Would love to hear from anyone that has any specific recollection of them after that time period and when it was removed.
Jason Hutchins April 16, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Looking at these pics and comparing it to contemporary airal shots it seems to me that the original sight is NOT now a parking lot but rather retail space. In the vicinity of Old Navy if I'm not mistaken. Over-lay a newer photo with the old using the entrance to the underground for reference (it appears the exit was redirected to accomodate JCP).
Jason Hutchins April 16, 2013 at 02:34 PM
looking at the old arial photo you shared it seems like the flag poles jive up roughly with the 2nd row of cars to the left of the tunnel entrance look at this photo and note where that same 2nd row of cars lines up. http://www.flyinphilsphotos.com/sms/photos/rsz_27.jpg THAT's your spot.

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