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Man’s handwritten note hidden under floor in 1917 finds its way to granddaughter

A milk bottle containing hand-written letters and rare coins has been discovered more than a century after being hidden.

The capsule, which was found buried under the floor in the Roslyn Grist Mill in New York by a team working to renovate the building, dates back to 1917 when it was installed during a restoration project says The Roslyn Landmark Society – which provides information about historic and architecturally significant buildings.

Alongside a number of rare coins, were two letters, one written in English and one in Italian – which eventually made its way back to the author’s granddaughter.

The English letter was penned by Stephen Speedling, who owned a carpentry shop in the city.

Whereas the Italian note was written by Romolo Capparrello, who identified himself as the person who designed the structure’s concrete roof.

The letter was translated by Andrea Fedi, professor of Italian and cultural studies at Stony Brook University, who explained that Romolo wanted to be remembered for his pioneering work on the mill.

“Attention, this is a gift that I am giving you,” he wrote.

“Romolo Caparrelli invented the planking-style concrete roof and walls installed in 1916 and 1917. So remember us, first bricklayer Romolo Caparrelli.”

Pam Story, Romolo’s granddaughter, confirmed that he was born in Pico, Italy, and later became a resident of Roslyn.

“He worked on a restoration of the grist mill in 1916 when it was intended to be used as a museum,” she told the Landmark Society.

“He applied a unique style of stucco to the exterior and concrete for the floors and roof. He also placed his initials in the stucco by the front entrance.

“I had been told by my father that he put a glass jar in the building’s wall with various contents.

“I am so glad that it was found and in relatively good condition.”

Once the restoration is complete, the items will be put on display to be viewed for years to come.

“To find such a piece of history is just really a treasure,” Roslyn Landmark Society member Jennifer Lister said.

“We should put our own little message in a bottle when we get this structure back together.”