112-year-old message in a bottle found inside wall at New Jersey university

Must See 06/12/2019

A demolition worker in the US made a pretty amazing discovery while taking down a wall in Montclair State University. 

Robert Kanaby told CNN that he found a message-in-a-bottle back in February while he was removing the wall in the university's College Hall building. Inside the beer bottle he discovered a 112-year-old letter. 

"It’s a very old brick wall, about 14 feet with three layers of brick. So I was going brick by brick with a tool," said Kanaby.

"All of a sudden I hit an unusual void in the wall. My chipping gun went in and I heard glass breaking," 

When Kanaby cleared the debris, he found the letter which read: "This is to certify that this wall was built by two bricklayers from Newark, N.J., by the names of William Hanly and James Lennon, members of No. 3 of the B.M.I.U. of America."

Upon his discovery, Kanaby decided to bring the note to Sharon Mahoney, the university’s director of construction management, who was shocked by the century-old discovery.

"Amazing to think, if he started chipping a few feet in either direction, the bottle may have been inside a wall section which was taken down in one piece and may never have been found," Mahoney said. 

Since the discovery was made in February, officials at the school have been researching the identity of the two men who wrote the letter.

According to CNN, the school used a 1920 census and found a William J. Hanly, who was 33 at the time and lived on Central Avenue in Newark. In a 1930 census, they found a bricklayer named James Lennon, born around 1875, who also lived in Newark.

Mike Zanko, the university’s associate vice president for capital planning and project management, told CNN that the school is planning to exhibit the letter and the bottle, along with other artifacts that were discovered during the renovation.

"The two men who placed it within our original building, College Hall, are part of our community forever. So we want to let any descendants of them know, that they are a part of our community as well," Andrew Mees of Montclair State University said.

The university has searched for living relatives of both Hanly and Lennon but none have been found as of yet.