It’s unclear how an 1896 document signed by President Grover Cleveland approving Utah as a state ended up at a Boston-based document auction this spring, but it’s now finding its home in the Beehive State.

Anthony Christensen, the founder of Anthony’s Fine Art & Antiquities, announced the gallery’s purchase of the document in its neoclassical gallery on Monday afternoon.

The building itself is historical — it formerly was the Immanuel Baptist Church built in 1911 — and throughout the gallery hangs the work of artists like Walter Rane, Arnold Friberg and Minerva Teichert. The sun peers in through the stained glass ceiling and around every corner is a treasure like Louis Comfort Tiffany’s The Good Shepherd stained-glass window or H.L.A. Culmer’s landscape of the Grand Canyon.

It took decades of trying for Utah to become a state, but there was something else that Christensen emphasized when he first announced the sale.

Christensen quoted from a letter John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail Adams about how what has become known as Independence Day in the United States would be remembered.

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival,” Adams wrote. “It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Paraphrasing this quote, Christensen recalled how the Latter-day Saint pioneers celebrated July 4 and lit bonfires in what is now known as Big Cottonwood Canyon even as they faced military opposition. “They wanted to be part of America, that was their heritage,” Christensen said.

With that as a backdrop, Micah Christensen, art consultant and European art and furniture expert, said Anthony’s Fine Arts & Antiquities has been in the business for 40 years and has purchased many historically significant objects throughout the decades.

“But this one really strikes at what we feel like is part of our stewardship,” Christensen told media in a press conference. “Which is to make sure that things that are meaningful to the state find their way back here and are celebrated and understood in context.”

The document — a handwritten letter penned in iron gall ink — sold for $27,188 at auction. Christensen said there were several documents from the federal government that were sold at auction. “But what’s uncommon is there would be one that was so specific to the state of Utah.”

“I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of State to cause the Seal of the United States to be affixed to my Proclamation admitting the State of Utah into the Union of States; dated this day, and signed by me; and for doing so this shall be his warrant,” the document reads in full.

Christensen said the gallery bought it “because we felt like it was important to bring that document and ensure that it is here in the state and it’s our goal to make sure that it goes to a state institution.”

It symbolizes the end of Utah’s petitioning to become part of the United States. It was signed on Jan. 4 of that year. It was signed concurrently with a proclamation (Proclamation 382) that created the state. The territory applied six times before finally entering the Union in 1896.

The gallery displayed it on the wall surrounded by other historical objects related to Utah’s journey to statehood, including a 45-star flag.

Ronald Fox, the co-chair of the Utah Commission on the 250th anniversary of the United States and president of The Fox Group, partnered with the gallery in its pursuit of the document.

Cleveland signed the document in private. “He had a delegation from Utah there,” Fox said, but they did not witness the signing of the document.

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The document that made Utah a state fetched $27K at auction

Its journey from that signing to where it currently is in downtown Salt Lake City is unclear.

Somewhere around the turn of the 20th century, a clerk or a secretary of state released a batch of documents into the public and they were no longer property of the federal government, Fox said. Private collectors owned this document prior to it coming to auction, but whose hands and how many hands it passed through is unknown.

“It is our hope that it goes into the new state museum,” Fox said, referencing the history museum slated to open in 2026 at the Utah Capitol. It’s Christensen’s hope that the gallery will find a client who would buy the document and donate it to the state so it can end up in the museum.

Fox also said that it’s likely the first time this document has ever actually been in the state of Utah. “There’s just nothing like it.”

When the document was signed and Utah became a state, Fox said there was a jubilant celebration.

“The telegraph office was buzzing with information, and the telegraph operator came out into the middle of the street with a double barrel shotgun and fired it off to get everybody’s attention,” Fox said.

The 5 p.m. edition of the Deseret Evening News reported the news of Utah becoming a state on Jan. 4, 1896, also noting the shotgun announcement, bells ringing and blowing of whistles.

Utah’s struggle to become a state was unlike any other state in the country.

Though Cleveland signed the letter on Jan. 4 1896, it wouldn’t be until July 4 of that year that the official statehood celebrations commenced and the U.S. added the 45th star to the American flag.