An 1875 almanac, books and a coin were discovered in time capsule found in the pedestal of Robert E. Lee statue

Historic preservation experts in Richmond, Virginia, plan to open the 1887 time capsule that was found in the pedestal that once held a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Gov. Ralph Northam announced.

By David Williams and Sara Smart, CNN

(CNN) -- An 1875 almanac, two withered books, a coin and a cloth envelope were among the artifacts inside an 1887 time capsule that was opened Wednesday.

The capsule was found last week in the pedestal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia.

CNN affiliate WTVR streamed a live feed that showed the process done by historic preservation experts.

The container was made of lead, which was corroded, so the delicate process took several hours as experts used multiple tools to chip away at the box.

It began at 10 a.m. and ended at around 3 p.m. when Gov. Ralph Northam lifted the lid of the capsule to reveal the items.

Katherine Ridgway, a conservator at Virginia Department of Historic Resources, was one of the experts working on the process and notes that one of the books had "love" written on it and had a coin attached, according to WTVR.

There was also a cloth envelope, which experts say looks like it contains a piece of paper and maybe a picture, according to the live feed.

The items were all wet from moisture that had gathered inside the lead box, so experts had to work carefully to remove them and ensure they stayed preserved.

"Given that the artifacts are wet, they will be put in the freezer to prevent any further deterioration," Ridgway told WTVR. It is unsure how long that preservation process will take at this time.

History of the time capsule

Workers found the time capsule on December 17 while dismantling the 40-foot pedestal on Monument Avenue in Richmond, according to a news release from Northam's office.

The 12-ton statue of Lee on his horse, which was removed in September, became a focal point for racial justice protests in Richmond -- the former capital of the Confederacy.

The time capsule was found in the tower of the pedestal about 20 feet above ground level.

Officials had thought it was encased in the base of the pedestal, and in September crews used cranes and other heavy equipment to move 21 granite blocks, including some that weighed up to 8,000 pounds.

Workers also dug a large 5-foot-deep hole near the cornerstone of the pedestal in hopes of finding the time capsule.

Historians believe the time capsule was placed on October 27, 1887, and included about 60 items that were donated by 37 Richmond residents, many of which were related to the Confederacy, according to the governor's office.

The state plans to store the pedestal until officials decide what to do with the partial monument.

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