CHEYENNE — Recent restoration work has uncovered vibrant oil paintings on six vault doors located in the garden level of the Wyoming Capitol.
The public can view the vault discoveries and learn more about the entire project at the July 10 Capitol Square Open House and Celebration. More than 130 years after it first opened to the public, the Wyoming Capitol is reopening after a critical restoration.
EverGreene Architectural Arts made the discovery in late May, by carefully removing several layers of paint. Uncovering each door took between one and two days.
Up to this point, restoration work had only uncovered gold pinstriping over a black finish on the vault doors located on the first floor. Nobody thought that the six Mosler Safe and Lock Co. vaults located in the 1888 section of the garden level would have such elaborate decoration underneath the dull brown paint.
The Capitol’s vault doors likely date back to before 1891 and were placed during the 1888 or 1890 building phases. All the vaults have lettering listing Cincinnati, Ohio, and come from the Mosler Safe Company.
The Mosler Safe Company was one of the largest manufacturer of safes and vault doors. Among their more notorious safe projects are the United States Gold Storage Vault at Fort Knox, Kentucky; the 50-ton safe that guards the original Declaration of Independence and Constitution and Bill of Rights; and the famous bank vaults that withstood the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.
Gustave Mosler and Fred Bahmann founded the company as Mosler, Bahmann & Company in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1867. After their father Gustave Mosler died, the Mosler family started Mosler Safe & Lock Company in 1876. Four of the brothers Moses, William, Max, and Julius Molser ran the company. Needing more factory space, the company relocated to Hamilton, 20 miles north of Cincinnati in 1891 where it stayed until its 2001 bankruptcy.
As for the six beautiful paintings found on the doors, the artists remain a mystery. None of the six paintings are signed, and the stenciling varies on each vault door. Elaborate decorations on vault doors and Mosler safes were not unusual for the time. An ad in the May 26, 1896, semi-Weekly Boomerang shows a painting on one of the doors. The project is still researching more information about the vaults.
To view more photos of the restoration project and the public schedule for the July 10 festivities, visit www.wyomingcapitolsquare.com.