A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

In the box: ‘And last and least a copper penny’

Written February 18th, 2023 by Hasso Hering


Is this, the northeast corner, where the cornerstone and time capsule were placed in 1912?

When the former bank building at First and Broadalbin in Albany is demolished in the next few weeks, the wreckers will be looking for the cornerstone that was placed 110 years ago.

Everybody interested in Albany history would like the “big block of sandstone” to be found. That’s because, as the Albany Weekly Democrat reported on Dec. 13, 1912, inside the cornerstone there was placed a box containing memorabilia of the time.

The question is: Where is it, at which corner? The reporter in 1912 didn’t say.

If you had to guess, you would think a cornerstone would be placed at the most prominent corner, which in this case is at Broadalbin Street and First Avenue. That’s where the five-story First National Bank building was constructed.

The bank occupied the first floor. The second was intended for legal offices, the third and fourth for physicians and dentists, and the fifth for what the paper called “general offices.”

A typical cornerstone would have an inscription on the outside, maybe the year of construction. This one may have that, too, but you can’t tell because the outside is covered up.

The building was ruined in 1974. The upper floors were torn off then, and the outside got some kind of concrete veneer. That was decades before Wells Fargo Bank took over First National.

Wells Fargo closed the branch in 2018. The Albany urban renewal agency bought it in 2019 and, after redevelopment prospects evaporated, decided last year to demolish the structure. Then, according to the plan, the city hopes to sell the lot.

At last report, which I got when I asked city officials Wednesday, the box in the cornerstone had not yet been found. It should be found soon, though, if it’s still there. (hh)

Or was it here, at the northwest corner, where the cornerstone was placed?


“And last and least a copper penny:” The Albany Weekly Democrat listed the time capsule contents on Dec. 13, 1912.


The First National Bank Building neared completion at First Avenue and Broadalbin Street circa 1915.


9 responses to “In the box: ‘And last and least a copper penny’”

  1. Cap B. says:

    I went to the dentist in the bank building as a kid…to Dr. Cooley. Didn’t see him again, as I was upset when going to the dentist (all kids were in those days of pain when they drilled into your tooth with the noisy drills), and Dr. Cooley was not patient with crying kids. So my folks switched to Dr. Ficq, who had an office upstairs in the Flinn Building…circa mid-1940s. Dr. Ficq was great with kids, and my mother enjoyed talking Albany politics with him. He wasn’t pleased with how Albany was run, and now, all these years later, a long-ago patient of his (me) is not pleased either.

    Albany’s CARA made a mess of buying that bank building. They had a chance to sell it to Linn County who would have put offices in it and also had space for renting out. Now, it is being torn down. Way to go, CARA.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Cumberland Church, Green Paint? on Madison…… It almost seems intentional-

    • Russell Hawke says:

      I love this! I’m shaking my head too that CARA is now tearing down the building, but Dr Ficq is my Great Grandfather. I was told he had an office behind his house. My Dad loved his grandfather. If you have any more stories about him, please message me through Facebook chat or email attached.

      • Cap B. says:

        Russell Hawke: I don’t do Facebook. And, Hasso doesn’t publish e-mails, which, of course is good of Hasso.
        Dr. Ficq at the end of his practicing dentistry days had an office connected to his son’s house on the street that is off SW Queen (Broadway, I think) at the far end of what used to be called the Bureau of Mines. I had an ulcerated molar pulled by him in that home office off Broadway when I was in Jr. High. Dr. Ficq first practiced in Scio in the oughts and teens. I mean somewhere between 1900 and 1920.. Then, Dr. Ficq practiced in Albany, and his office was on the second floor of the Flinn Building which is on First Street in Albany. His office walls sported pictures and artifacts from his homeland, Holland, and some from overseas travels, too, if my memory serves me correctly.

    • centrist says:

      Dalton Cooley has left this orb

  2. Richard Vannice says:

    Just a suggestion Hasso. Quite often the Masonic Lodge is involved in placing cornerstones, in the past and even now. I don’t know but it might be that the local lodge would have some record of this event.
    Just as Cap. B I too saw a dentist in the same building in 1949 or 50. Can’t remember what his name was but he had been in the US Army, Major as I recall. I’m also from the era of noisy drills, spit, pain, and novocaine. He had no assistant as I remember and when he gave me a shot it was a bit too much and I recall waking up with my head between my knees.
    It took me years to overcome the discomfort of this session and two others when I was the 3rd and 4th grades.

  3. centrist says:

    “The building was ruined”
    Care to describe what happened? Or perhaps point to a source.
    That fluted veneer is just bug uttly. Seems like sacrilegious treatment of stately architecture. But then the COMMITTEE wasn’t likely around yet.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Everybody can see how a handsome building was ruined when the top floors were taken off. Don’t need a source for that.

      • Cap B. says:

        Hasso: It is indeed a great picture of the building. Thank you for including that in your story. It was a wonderful building before our supposed “advancing” (NOT) human race got done with it.


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