BLUEFIELD, WV- In 1976, patriotic Americans celebrating the bicentennial in Bluefield, WV buried a time capsule to be opened in one hundred years for the tri-centennial of the United States. The effort to secure the marble from the Penteli quarry in Greece was led by the late Paul Chryssikos, a proud Greek-American, Ahepan, and member of the Civitan Club. On August 12, the time capsule and its unique marble monument were removed by the local chamber of commerce with the intention of opening the time capsule nearly 60 years ahead of the planned opening on July 4, 2076.
Virginia Chryssikos, daughter of the late Paul Chryssikos, spoke with The National Herald about the time capsule and the monument made of marble quarried from Penteli. She said she was disheartened and disappointed that the time capsule and marble monument were removed. Chryssikos noted that she wasn’t informed about the removal until after the fact and she believes the time capsule should not be opened until 2076 as originally intended by the local Bluefield Civitan Club who was responsible for the monument and time capsule. It seemed, she said, that once the chapter of the club her late father belonged to was disbanded within the last year, the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce took the opportunity to remove the marble monument and the time capsule. Civitan International and the Chamber of Commerce are on the lease, she said, for the small property where the time capsule and monument were installed.
Chryssikos also said that the Chamber of Commerce made excuses for the removal with hypothetical situations like what if the building was sold and some construction workers accidentally bulldozed the marble monument and time capsule, and what if there was no money to open the time capsule in 2076.
Chryssikos contacted the local paper, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph intending to write a letter to the editor, but the paper decided to write an article on the situation instead. Chryssikos noted that she might still write a letter to the editor concerning the way the removal was handled and reiterating her opinion that the time capsule should remain sealed until July 4, 2076. She spoke with AHEPA Executive Director Basil Mossaidis, who mentioned that marble is no longer quarried from Penteli which she did not know and adds to the special nature of this unique monument.
Chryssikos is hopeful that the marble monument will be safely moved to another location where it can be appreciated by the public. She noted the fact that there are only three Greek families left in the town. It seems especially important therefore to preserve the marble monument and the time capsule that her father and the local community worked so hard to install in 1976. Chryssikos said that her father taught for over 20 years at Concord University in Athens, WV, which is another location where the marble monument might be installed as it was stipulated in the lease that if moved it should go to a museum or educational institution, though her hope is that the monument and the time capsule would be kept together.
As reported in the Telegraph, Marc Meachum, president of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce said, “Its only connection to the chamber is that it’s on our property. It belonged to the Bluefield Civitan Club. The chamber leased the Civitan Club 40 years ago a small area in front of the chamber, the point where we have flowers and bushes. I have contacted Civitan International and they have not been receptive about taking over the responsibility for it.” In response to Meachum’s comments, Chryssikos said the time capsule belongs to the people of the town. She also spoke with Keith Sheffield, Vice President of Development and Corporate Counsel of Civitan International, to find out if the organization could take care of the monument and time capsule, but there was no definite response at press time. Chryssikos observed how hard her father, with roots in Evrytania, had worked for the installation of the time capsule and monument out of his love for both the United States, which was then celebrating its bicentennial, and Greece, petitioning the Greek government for the marble. Then, he led AHEPA in transporting the marble from the port of Baltimore, MD to Bluefield. Of the interest in the monument, Mossaidis said, “I just wanted to make sure the stone was preserved,” the Telegraph reported, although if it ever needed a good home again, AHEPA would be interested in taking it to Washington D.C. and displaying it, he added.