NewsLocal News


$50,000 Petersburg courthouse chandelier mysteriously disappeared

Posted at 7:17 PM, May 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-08 19:17:57-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Though it was custom-made for the Historic Petersburg Courthouse during a late 1960s renovation,  the one of kind bronze chandelier didn't hang in the courtroom for long.

About a decade after the courthouse renovation, the chandelier was taken down, sources said due to structural issues with the courthouse roof.

That was 40 years ago and now the search is on to try to find the massive chandelier, valued at around $50,000.

"I'm a big history buff, so that meant a whole lot to me," says T.O. Rainey, a local attorney. Rainey  graduated William and Mary law school in 1978, and just months later found himself inside the historic courtroom with his first jury trial. "It was only one courtroom in the old courthouse, it was on the second floor."

"It was sort of majestic, I remember there was a large chandelier," Rainey said, and added that "it caught your attention when you came in."

But months later a much different scenario greeted the new attorney.

"They had erected a scaffold inside of the courtroom," Rainey recalled. "I do remember at that point, the chandelier had been taken down because they were afraid it was going to collapse, be damaged, or cause harm to someone."

Multiple sources said the chandelier was taken across the street from the courthouse and stored in the "Old Petersburg Hotel."

In the mid 1990s, after a new Circuit Court was built, several people brought up the chandelier, but it was not found.

Now forty years later, as the Historic Petersburg Courthouse is under a major renovation, a new search is underway.

The non-profit group "Petersburg Preservation Task Force" is running the museums for the financially-strapped city and they are also cataloging the City's artifacts.

In the past month they were asked about the chandelier.

"The task force was asked directly if we have any knowledge of the whereabouts, location, storage of the chandelier and of course we have not," said Andrea Hunjtens, board member with Petersburg Preservation Task Force.

Hunjtens said the task force is aware of where the chandelier initially went.

"There was a bit of a story it had been stored at the Old Petersburg Hotel, which is directly behind City Hall, it is not there now".

Also in the past month, Petersburg City leaders and the Petersburg Police Department were made aware the chandelier is missing.

Many who remember the chandelier say they'd love to see it hanging back in the courtroom and they say now is the time to get it back, while the renovations inside are just getting started.