SAINT JOHN -- The demolition of a nearly century-and-a-half old historic church in Saint John has unearthed a hidden treasure.

A decades-old time capsule has been discovered inside the structure best known as the Gothic Arches.

Saint John developer Percy Wilbur knew when he bought the Gothic Arches he was buying a building filled with history.

"There are a lot of hidden gems in there," Wilbur said.

But what he didn't know at the time was that hidden away inside of the south peak of the more than 140-year-old structure was a time capsule.

"We had to get permission to close off the streets and we put someone in a crane in a bucket truck and lifted them up almost 90 feet and retrieved it from breaking a window and getting inside," Wilbur said.

The time capsule was brought to his attention by local historian Harold Wright, who did a heritage report on the property for Wilbur, who is building an apartment complex on the site.

He says the capsule was put in the building in 1949.

"In the 1949 version, it makes mention of documents going back to the establishment of the church, which is 1838, so when this time capsule gets opened, we should see documents from the 1830s all the way up to 1949," Wright said.

The time capsule is made of lead and is around 20 inches long and four inches wide.

The plan is to bring the time capsule to the New Brunswick Museum so that it can be opened under the proper conditions.

"First, you gotta make sure it hasn't any cracks or opening so there could be water inside, but if you don't have the right temperature humidity, in theory, you open it up, the documents could disintegrate or further deteriorate," Wright said.

Whatever is inside, Wilbur is looking forward to finding out.

"I'm hoping there's a newspaper mentioning the construction of the church," Wilbur said. "I hope there's some architectural drawings and renderings of the church and maybe some kind words about them looking into the future."

As this property moves into the future, the process is unearthing a piece of the past.