The year was 1961.
John F. Kennedy was the young president of the U.S., and America’s current president, Barack Obama, was born.
Worries about a Soviet attack on U.S. soil were real.
The Beatles made their Cavern Club debut in Liverpool, but were far from famous.
Robert R. Martin was one year into his presidency of what was then Eastern Kentucky State College.
And near the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Park Drive, a cornerstone was laid for a new residence hall that would go on to house generations of Eastern students and spawn countless memories.
Fast forward to Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, several days into the demolition of Martin Hall, when the contents of a time capsule placed in that cornerstone 55 years ago were revealed to a large, eager crowd assembled in “Middle Powell.”
After pulling them out of the capsule, President Michael Benson and Student Government Association President described the items before laying them on a nearby table for all to peruse minutes later: several copies of The Eastern Progress and Richmond Register newspapers, an alumni magazine, a program for Martin’s inauguration, an admissions brochure, course catalogue, photos of Martin and his wife, Anne, and construction of the hall, and more.
As he has done on many occasions, Benson acknowledged Martin’s legacy as a transformative leader for the institution. “President Martin did so much to build up this campus,” he said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him and the shadow he cast over our campus, our community and our state.”
A new Martin Hall, with approximately 600 beds, is slated open on the same site in Fall 2017.
The construction “will replace a great hall that has wonderful memories with a facility that is modern ... and fits into the architecture of our campus,” Benson said.
Benson, who thanked the contractors for their care in extracting the cornerstone, said some of the contents from the 1961 capsule will be placed in a cornerstone capsule for the new Martin Hall, with the remainder going to the University’s Archives.
New residence halls are only a part of the plans as revitalization of the Richmond campus continues. Also planned as part of a Center for Student Life are a renovated student union, new wellness center, new dining facility and more.