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A VALUABLE RELIC.
By Hon. WILLIAM OCTAVE HART.
As is well known, the Grunewald Hotel is built on the site of what was originally the Mechanics’ Institute, afterwards known as Tulane Hall, wherein were held the Constitutional Conventions of 1864 and 1898, and which was used as a State House for several years preceding 1874, when the Capitol was removed to the St. Louis Hotel.
The building was erected by the New Orleans Mechanics' Society, which was chartered by the State of Louisiana, February 17th, 1821. The ground on which the building was erected was donated to the Society by the State of Louisiana, on March 21st, 1850, and the corner stone of the original building was laid February 22nd, 1851, R. P. Rice being the architect.
Mr. Theo. Grunewald, of the Hotel Grunewald Company, Ltd., has given to Mr. W. 0. Hart of the Louisiana Historical Society the box which was placed in the corner stone when it was laid, and Mr. Hart will present same, with its interesting contents of relics, to the Society at its next meeting.
The most interesting document in the box is a short history of the Society and of the building, printed on very stiff paper and reading as follows:
“The Mechanics’ Institute and its contents, including all the records of the Society, were totally destroyed by fire on the evening of the 26th of December, 1854. The original cost of the building was $80,000, on which there was an insurance of $30,000. With this sum the Society commenced the erection of the present building. On the 14th day of March, 1857, the Legislature of the State of Louisiana donated to the Society $10,000, to assist in its erection. The plans of this new building were adopted on the 22nd day of December, 1855. This box was originally deposited under the northeast corner of the first Institute; after the destruction of that building it was recovered, and, on being opened, the contents were found in a perfect state of preservation. Several articles were added to them and the box was again deposited under the northeast column of the front portico, on Tuesday, the 31st day of March, 1857, at 4 o'clock p. m., by a committee appointed for the purpose, consisting of the President and Building Committee, assisted by numerous members of the Society.
The New Orleans Mechanics' Society was formed in the year 1807. The following were the first officers: H. M. Dobbs, president; Peter Craig, vice-president; Nicholas Sinnott, treasurer; James Armitage, secretary.
In the year 1853 Abijah Fisk and the City Council of New Orleans donated to the Society the Fisk Library and the property connected with the same, situate on the corner of Custom IIouse and Bourbon streets, to be held by them forever in trust for the use of the citizens of New Orleans.
HEALTH AND RELIEF.
A. D. Crossman,
Charles Pride. A. W. Cooper.
James Gallier, Architect. Richard Esterbrook, Superintendent.” The following other articles and documents were found therein:
The Daily True Delta of March 31st, 1857, containing 'among other things the advertisement of S. M. Moody, and of H. P. Buckley, well-known merchants of New Orleans of the olden times, and also an advertisement of Dalbear's Commercial College, which then, and for many years, was situated at 106 Canal street. This was the date on which the corner stone of the Institute was to be laid, though nothing appears in this paper about it.
The Daily Picayune of March 12th, 1857, containing over three columns of steamboat advertisements and about the same number of ship and steamship advertisements; also advertisements of Col. A. W. Merriam's Billiard Hall, of the store of B. Piffet, and an editorial on President Buchanan's inaugural address, which was delivered eight days before.
The Daily Picayune of November 6th, 1853, mentioning the long delay in the building of the Custom House ; also an account of the removal of the Fisk Library to the Mechanics' Institute, and among the advertisements that of Dr. E. D. Beach, Chemist and Apothecary, Chartres and Custom House streets.
The New Orleans Price Current of September 1st, 1856, being No. 1 of Volume 28, which gives also a three-page review of the business of the preceding year, and has over five pages of classified advertisements. Among other advertisements are those of A. Thompson & Co., sugar and molasses refiners; P. E. Brulatour & Co., and C. Cavaroc & Co.
Card of H. R. Swasey, bookbinder, No. 92 Camp street, on the back of which are written these words: “Sie Transit Gloria Mundi."
Annual statement of the New Orleans Price Current of September 2nd, 1850, giving an extended review of the business of New Orleans for the preceding year.
Pamphlet giving message of Mayor Crossman to the General Council of the City, and report thereon by a special committee on internal improvements of the Council, composed of Charles M. Waterman, T. M. Cucullu and C. Roselius.
Bound book containing constitution of the Society, revised and adopted May 22nd, 1849.
Map of New Orleans, published by B. M. Norman.
Four foreign coins, one 1723, one 1826, the other two the dates not being decipherable.
Small paper containing these words in handwriting: “Samuel Locke, born 1806."
Small bound book containing constitution of New Orleans Mechanics' Society, revised and adopted November 22nd, 1853.
Document probably placed when the first corner stone was laid, February 22nd, 1851, giving the officers and members of the Society, the officers of the United States, of the State and of the City. (This should be framed. It will be noted that this document and others contained in the box give the foundation of the Society as February 22nd, 1806, whereas the document first above mentioned, which also ought to be framed, and placed when the corner stone was laid for the second time, gives the date as 1807.)
Original blank for subscriptions to the capital stock of the Mechanics' Society.
Engraved plate from which evidently were printed invitations for the laying of the corner stone of the first building.
Paper about the size of an envelope, with these words on it: “Henry R. Swasey, born in Exeter, State of New Hampshire, 31 October, 1813. Re-elected Secretary of the N. Orleans Mechanics' Society, February, 1851.”
Print, entitled “View of New Orleans," drawn and engraved expressly for the Pictorial Advertiser.
One of the ribbon badges used when the corner stone of the first building was laid.
Western Produce Circular, published by the Commercial Bulletin, March 28th, 1857.
Copy of the Daily True Delta, February 21st, 1851, containing advertisements of Leeds & Co., foundry; Giquel & Jamison, the well-known dry goods merchants, who were then located at No. 18 Chartres street. There was also an advertisement of the Pontchartrain Railroad Co., and a statement that an omnibus to connect with the trains would leave Canal and Chartres every quarter of an hour.
New Orleans Price Current, February 22nd, 1851, containing advertisements of Alfred Kearny & Co., regarding cement; E. J. Hart & Co., even then at their present location, which was known as 79 Tchoupitoulas street, and the Crescent Mutual Insurance Company, of which Samuel Bell was then president and Thomas Adams vice-president.
Copy of the Bee, February 22nd, 1851, two pages French and two pages English, containing a proclamation of President Filmore regarding the rescue of a fugitive slave in Boston,