Creating a Beacon Hill Time Capsule

A ceremonial closing of a time capsule filled with memorabilia of life on Beacon Hill during the Covid 19 pandemic will take place on December 6, at 2 pm in the library of the Beacon House, 19 Myrtle Street. Residents and members of the community are invited to participate in the ceremony.

Alfreda Payne (left) with observes residents working on the time capsule.

Preserving the memories of living through this moment in history for future generations of Beacon House residents was the brainchild of Alfreda Payne, its resident services coordinator for more than 30 years.

Payne recognized that older adults, especially those living alone in congregate housing, suffer tremendously from isolation and loneliness. Such anxiety can put them at great risk for serious illness, even death in some cases.

Payne believed that the process of recalling the uplifting as well as the challenging aspects of life during the public health crisis would help combat such loneliness and facilitate healing among the residents. In the fall of 2021 she came up with the idea of creating a time capsule to preserve such memories.

Through a generous grant from The Beacon Hill Civic Association Community Fund and the support of Rogerson Communities’ staff and senior management, Payne was able to put her idea into action. 

Last summer she led a series of workshops for Beacon House residents and invited members of the Beacon Hill community to participate. The group collected memorabilia and created pandemic-related artwork, scrap books, and journals that will be kept in a beautifully restored vintage safe. The workshops proved to be therapeutic on many levels – helping to heal seniors’ anxieties, providing a renewed sense of community, and giving purpose to residents who had felt alone for so many months.

The instructions say to open the safe in 2059, the 75th anniversary of this senior living community. Residents and staff hope the contents will provide meaningful insight into how former residents adapted and overcame the challenges of this unprecedented period in global history.  

The Beacon House provides affordable, independent housing for low- and moderate-income seniors. It is owned and managed by Rogerson Communities, a non-profit network of 30 senior living residences and programs located in Boston, stretching to southern Massachusetts and as far west as Worcester.

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