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Canterbury, Conn. — Denise Roberts was watching the recent demolition of a building on her Canterbury property when the crews stopped working and asked her to come take a look.

Beneath the floor of the structure, which had dated back to 1889, was a wooden box, approximately 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 3 feet deep, and lined with copper.

“I was terrified,” Roberts said. “I was thinking, ‘not a coffin.’ ”

She put the work on hold and called the state Historic Preservation office.

Dan Forrest, staff archaeologist at the state office, said the 1880s were a time “when copper-lined coffins were fairly common, especially when people died of infections.”

Forrest inspected the box last week and said it was not a casket or a coffin, but likely some sort of water tank. He said the older part of the building dates to the early 1800s, so the box may be that old.

Roberts lives at 1 North Canterbury Road. On her property are the former town clerk’s office, post office and Frink’s General Store. The box was found beneath where two buildings intersect. Read more.

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