“The Hobbit” has returned to the Snohomish Library after a 16-year absence.
The large painting originally graced the children’s area of the original Carnegie Library, but it didn’t make the move to the new library when it opened in 2003, library manager Jude Anderson said.
Because the City of Snohomish owned the Carnegie Building and annex, Sno-Isle Libraries didn’t move any of the permanently attached fixtures and features from the old city-owned library to the district-owned new one.
That included “The Hobbit” painting.
After the move to the new library, “The Hobbit” slowly faded from the staff’s institutional memory, until a few months ago.
“A customer had contacted us to ask about the painting because he was reading ‘The Hobbit’ with his child and shared his memory of the painting,” Anderson said. “Few remembered it.”
The Snohomish Library staff did some research and found photos of the painting in the Carnegie Library so they knew what to look for, Anderson said. Then Terry Lippincott jumped in to help.
Lippincott is president of the Snohomish Friends of the library, president of the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation and also involved in the Carnegie Foundation that is restoring the old building for community use.
“She found out that it was in heated storage with the city’s public works department,” Anderson said. “The city was happy to give it to us so it could be enjoyed again.”
But, Lippincott said, where in the library would “The Hobbit” hang? Its sheer size and weight, a 5-by-9-foot wooden board, presented challenges because of limited wall space.
Eventually, Anderson and the Friends group settled on the west wall, above the library’s selections of literary classics.
The Friends worked with Doug Thede at Avenue D Gallery and Custom Framing to get “The Hobbit” framed and ready for public display again, Lippincott said.
Then Thede discovered that the board “The Hobbit” was painted on was about 1/4-inch out of square. He and Lippincott decided to judiciously shave off the necessary amount so Thede could finish the frame.
Once Thede was done, Sno-Isle Libraries facilities technician Tom Lauderback carefully installed “The Hobbit” on May 10 before its official unveiling on May 13.
Lippincott said the Friends will place a plaque with “The Hobbit” explaining its history with the old and new libraries.
Yet an air of mystery remains around “The Hobbit.” Who painted it, and when?
“We have not been able to identify the artist beyond knowing it was painted by Dave Dana,” Anderson said. “We believe he was a local artist, but we don’t have any solid information on that.”