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New portrait brings another "Missing Governor" to the state Capitol

Potrait of Governor Charles Croswell
Cheyna Roth
Michigan Public Radio Network

Another governor has found his place on the walls of the Michigan State Capitol.

Governor Charles Croswell’s portrait was unveiled Monday. He’s one of the so-called “Missing Governors” that the Capitol Commission has been trying to bring to the Capitol over the last couple years.

This is the second portrait in this effort to bring all the former governors to the state Capitol.

Croswell’s time as Michigan’s governor was brief – from 1877 to 1880. But he was the first governor to serve in the current Capitol building. He also wrote Michigan’s act to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and end slavery.

Now his portrait will finally be on the walls of the state Capitol.

Joshua Risner painted the portrait and made the frame. Risner says he only had a black and white drawing to work off of as a reference. So he spoke to relatives of Croswell to determine things like eye color and skin tone.

Priscilla Croswell Grew is the great granddaughter of Croswell.

She says, “We’ve only had just the black and white photos of him. And having something in color, I think it somehow is going to you know really bring him more alive to people.”

Risner says he used time appropriate techniques. That created a special challenge with the frame. He had to apply materials like rabbit-skin glue and marble dust to a wooden frame.

“And it actually is like an alchemy process because at the end as you get all these layers on the frame and then you apply the gold-leaf you do the final process which is burnishing and it melts the gold into the base of the frame.”

Risner worked on the frame consistently for a month. The final effect is a wooden frame that looks like metal.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R