- Cullman, Alabama

November 14, 2012

Items found in time capsule, pieces of clock recovered after tornado on display at courthouse

By Ashley Graves
The Cullman Times

— For the longest, a pile of metal sat in the floor of County Clerk Charlotte Slatton’s office.

No one knew what to do with the pieces of clock taken from the front of the Cullman County Courthouse.

Put them in storage in the basement? Or, find a way to preserve it?

Slatton was in favor of the latter, and after much thought and time spent brainstorming, came up with the idea to make a decoupage clock to be displayed  on the wall outside of the Cullman County Commission meeting room located on the first floor of the courthouse. A photo of the marble-clad courthouse, dedicated on July 3,1965 , serves as the background for the piece. Meanwhile, the original clock face is stopped at 2:54 p.m., marking the time a tornado struck the building on April 27, 2011.

“To me, it’s a part of our history that needs to be shared and not thrown away or tucked away somewhere,” Slatton said.

After tossing the idea around to Elaine Fuller, director of the Cullman County Museum, Fuller put her in contact with John Kelton, of Kelton Design in Huntsville, as someone who could design what she had in mind. Kelton’s company specializes in planning, designing, and producing exhibits for museums across the state, including Cullman. In addition to the work done at the Cullman County Museum, he’s also worked for the Paul W. Bryant Museum in Tuscaloosa, Vulcan Park in Birmingham, as well as the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.

“Charlotte came to me with a rough idea,” Kelton said. “I looked at the clock frame, and we worked with Elaine at the Cullman County Museum to find the best photo. I then did the design concepts with what Charlotte had in mind, and this is the idea we came up with.”

Also on display, around the corner in the entrance way of the courthouse are the contents of a time capsule found by maintenance worker Dalton McCluskey. According to Slatton, McCluskey was taking down a plaque from the 1965 dedication of the courthouse when he stumbled upon the box.

“At first he thought it was an electrical box,” Slatton said. “But then when there weren’t any wires, he realized what it was.”

Inside the box were several old copies of The Cullman Times dating back to 1912, as well as various coins, pins, a copy of the courthouse dedication program from July 3, 1965, a name plate of former chairman C.L. Vest, and wooden pieces of a cigar box, which Slatton believes to be what stored the contents at one time.

Slatton said the items will be kept on display in the lobby until the dedication of the remodeled courthouse takes place. A date has yet been set.

“We’ll put all of the old stuff in with several new items then seal it back up for someone else to find,” Slatton said.

Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at