Another governor finds his place on the walls of Michigan’s Capitol

Nov 14, 2017

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


Governor Charles Croswell held the office for only a few years from 1877 to 1880. But he was a lawmaker for many years before that.

Now his portrait will finally grace the walls of the state Capitol.

Joshua Risner (RISE’-ner) painted the portrait and made the frame. Risner says he only had a black and white drawing for reference. So he spoke to relatives of Croswell to figure out things like eye color and skin tone.

“It take a lot of – I feel like it takes years off my life sometimes.”

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.”

Governor Croswell is one of the twelve so-called “Missing governors.” Those are former governors that don’t have a portrait.

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

Priscilla Croswell Grew is the great granddaughter of Croswell.

“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.”

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.