Friday, July 2, 2010

Capitol Park makeover leads to unearthing Michigan's first governor

In case you missed this story in the Detroit Free Press last week, here's a recap. The picture above – which I cleverly captured through a gash in the mesh fencing that surrounds the work site that will eventually be the new Capitol Park – was taken about a month ago, without my knowing that the guy with the shovel was actually looking for a casket in them there grounds. Allow me to explain. Here are the pertinent facts.

Michigan's first governor was a young 19-year-old named Steven Mason. The capitol of Michigan was at one time Detroit. The capitol building stood on what is now Capitol Park. When the boy wonder died of pneumonia at the tender age of 31, his remains were first buried in New York but in 1905 were moved at the request of his sister to Capitol Park. In the 1950s his remains were moved again, this time to the other side of the park. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to jot down exactly where.

The other day they found them.

Since we all like a happy ending, here's what will happen next. Mason will be re-interred in an above-ground crypt that will serve as the centerpiece of the park, which is scheduled to reopen in August. He will be, according to the freep, surrounded by a model of the state's first Capitol building, new benches and lighting, and interpretive signs.