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Opera house has new tile and a time capsule

Rick Watts was busy last week installing the granite tile on the entryway deck to the Newport Opera House. After decades of use, the old surface had started to break up and was in need of replacing. By ARCHIE MOUNTAIN. (click for larger version)
September 24, 2009
NEWPORT — There's a secret waiting to surface, perhaps 75 years from now, at the entryway to the Newport Opera House.

When Rick Watts tore up and old deck just outside the front doors to the Opera House, he saved a little space to bury a time capsule. And then he got down on his hands and knees to install the new tile.

The job is now complete, and Watts, an employee in the buildings department for the Town of Newport, made sure someone in the future will get a feel for Newport in 2009 when the entryway has to be replaced again. "Maybe in 50 or 75 years," he figures.

In the time capsule he included a the 2008 Newport town report, a brochure on the Opera House, the 2009 program schedule for the Opera House, a couple of newspapers and his business card.

"The next person to dig it up will have some fun," he said. "It will be like finding an old, rusted wrench,"

The newspapers included a historic publication from early New Hampshire days along with the first issue of the Claremont Villager. "I wanted people to know what's going on locally," he said of his choice to include the Villager.

For anyone around during the next dig, the capsule, —contained in a plastic trash bag — is located at the center of the entryway directly in front of the final step leading up to the doors.

Digging up the old entryway was no easy task, according to Watts. There was tile, brick and two inches of mortar. There was also a layer of wire.

While Watts modified the design of the tile during his installation, it is the same type of granite tile used for the old entryway.

Watts said he has been involved with tile work since 1986. He has been a yardman, mason and worked with carved stone. "Stone is my forte," he said.

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Varney Smith
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