Historic photos vanish from City Hall
A collection of William Henry Jackson photographs from the 1890s was stolen late Tuesday or early Wednesday from Grand Junction City Hall, city officials said.
After spending two days searching the building and quizzing employees, officials have sounded the alarm and are now asking for the public’s help in retrieving the artwork.
The photo collection, 13 black-and-white pictures of the Grand Junction area, were mounted in a frame that measured about 2 feet by 3 feet. The collection was valued at $2,000 by Ron Scribner, owner of Sentinel Publishing, 307 S. 12th St., who loaned the work to the city in 2003.
“I had them quite a while, and the city wanted to put them on display and I really thought they were going to be safe,” the 78-year-old Scribner said. “I didn’t think I was stupid by putting them over there; I thought I was smart. ... I was glad they were there.”
City officials delayed calling police until Thursday because people assumed the picture had been removed for repairs, said Allison Sarmo, cultural arts coordinator for the Commission on Arts and Culture.
“The frame needed some repair so we felt that the custodians may have it,” Sarmo said. “It was one of those things that had been in City Hall for years. I was just hoping it was in somebody’s office. I didn’t find out about it until Wednesday and everybody thought I had it.”
The Jackson photographs hung outside the municipal courtroom on the first floor.
“Whoever did it had a lot of gall, I tell you, but they were beautiful pictures of Grand Junction in the late 1800s,” Scribner said.
The collection was historical eye candy and moved many to pause and take note.
“Oh, people looked at it all the time,” Sarmo said. “It was a very popular composite of pictures. I had seen someone looking at it the morning before it went missing.”
At any time in City Hall, some 35 works are displayed in a temporary exhibit, as well as about a dozen permanent pieces owned by the city and the two (now one) composites of photographs on loan from Scribner.
The second work that Scribner has on long-term loan to the city is an old photograph of the Fifth Street bridge across the Colorado River.
“It is in a frame that is all handmade from silver — silver-leaf maple,” Scribner said.
“This one is more expensive. This one also has the old original glass.”
Inside the glass of each is a plaque with Scribner’s identifying information, just in case they were ever lost.
“That way I could get them back, but I don’t think I will ever get it back now,” he said.
The composite is one of two known to be in existence. The other is in the collection of the Colorado Historical Society in Denver, according to a city media release.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the collection is encouraged to call city spokeswoman Sam Rainguet at 244-1507 or Allison Sarmo at 254-3865.