Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Louis Crandall looks at a page from a Ramage press replica at the Crandall Historical Printing Museum in Provo.

PROVO — The unique story of the history of printing as told at the Crandall Historical Printing Museum will be expanded thanks to a significant donation recognized Thursday.

The Provo museum recognized the Deseret News and the LDS Foundation for a $51,000 donation at its annual banquet and auction, which featured Frank Layden as master of ceremonies. Additionally, the museum's boards of directors and trustees honored Harold R. Wing and Karl W. Bacon each with Constitutional Education and Freedom Awards.

"We really appreciate the Deseret News and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation for contributing money for a special room at the museum which would show visitors the oldest newspaper in Utah and its printing press," said Ray Beckham, chairman of the museum advisory board.

The donation from the Deseret News will help fund a room dedicated to telling the story of the printing of the first Deseret News. The exhibit will be housed in a planned expansion of the museum that will incorporate the existing building directly to the west of the Crandall Museum.

The donation enabled the museum to purchase an exact duplicate of the historic Ramage press, an original set of type used in the printing of Utah's earliest newspaper, and will allow for construction of a room depicting the original Deseret News printing room. The exhibit will feature type cases and other print-shop equipment and furniture. The creation of the Deseret News exhibit will make for a more complete story, said Dann Hone, chairman of the museum's board of trustees.

"We'll be able to tell the full history of printing in Utah," he said, "the (Ramage) press and the Deseret News being the focus of that."

Beckham said the museum approached the Deseret News and the LDS Foundation in January about the possibility of the donation.

"We went to them and told them what our plans were, what our hopes were, and they agreed to finance the room and to buy the press and the type," Beckham said.

The museum's current exhibits are operating in slightly tight quarters and the anticipated expansion will enable the museum to welcome larger visiting groups with greater frequency. Right now the room that holds the Ramage press can only fit 10 to 15 people in at a time.

The museum has plans to begin a permanent program to bring school children there in an effort to expand their knowledge of printing's place in American history.

"The idea is that all the fifth-graders in the Provo, Alpine and Nebo school districts would come in each year," Beckham said. "That's about 8,000 students."

In addition to making room for the Ramage press exhibit and larger crowds, the expansion will also accommodate the Utah Printers Hall of Fame — recently created in partnership with the museum and the Printing Industries of Utah.

The museum is home to the most authentic working replica of the Gutenberg Press in the world. The exhibit tells Johan Gutenberg's story of printing the Bible, and visitors can observe the creation of such a book. Additionally, the museum houses a replica of Benjamin Franklin's printing shop and tells the story of the influence of printing on the establishment of the United States. Visitors can there observe the printing of an authentic copy of the U.S. Constitution.

"Our story is not just about what happened," Hone said, "but about what impact it had."

Since it isn't supported by tax dollars, the museum requires funding from private individuals or businesses. It recently accepted a $100,000 donation from an anonymous donor from California. The proceeds from Thursday evening's auction will directly benefit the museum.


E-mail: jdavis@desnews.com