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Mysterious Time Capsule in Ballston To Be Opened Next Year

A time capsule in Ballston that has been largely forgotten to time is set to be opened at some point next year, and no one seems to know what’s inside.

An inconspicuous plaque on the side of the Fairgate office building (1005 N. Glebe Road) announces the time capsule.

“A time capsule celebrating Arlington County and the building of Ballston, placed by the Rouse and Associates in 1988, to be opened in 2020,” the plaque reads.

A lot has happened since 1988, however. For one, Rouse and Associates no longer exists. In 1994 it was sold and the company, based in suburban Philadelphia, is now known as Liberty Property Trust.

“Oh wow, that would be us [behind the plaque],” says Jeanne Leonard, vice president of Liberty Property Trust. Over the phone, she detailed how Rouse and Associates did have a Northern Virginia office at one point, but it was shuttered several decades ago.

“We developed this office building in 1986,” Leonard said, confirming the site of the capsule. “But we have not owned it in many years. Unfortunately, there is no one here now who was with our Northern Virginia operation back in the 80s. I’ve got no idea what could be in it.”

Per county records, the building was sold in 2012 to WashREIT, a D.C.-based real estate company. Deanna Schmidt, a communications official at WashREIT, confirmed that the firm knows about the capsule and said they are exploring the best ways to celebrate the capsule come 2020.

They aren’t quite sure how to go about opening it and said they will update their plans once that detail is figured out.

As for what’s in there?

“No idea,” said Schmidt.

A reader first tipped ARLnow off about the plaque, which can be seen from the corner of 11th Street N. and N. Vermont Street. Representatives for the Ballston Business Improvement District, Arlington County and Arlington Public Library’s Center for Local History were similarly unable to find any information on the time capsule.

“I’ve probably walked past that plaque 100 times without noticing,” said Peter Golkin, spokesman for the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services.

Update on 9/20/19 — We now know at least some of what is in the capsule.

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