NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)–A missing painting may be key to restoring a historic building in New London.
The painting shows a fire in November 1853 at the former Methodist church turned piano factory in downtown New London. Just to the right of that building is the Nathan Hale schoolhouse in its original location.
Stephen Shaw with the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution says, “It would actually be the only color image of the Nathan Hale schoolhouse before modern times.”
An important image in restoring the school house to its original look. The fire which destroyed the former church was captured on canvas by artist Preston Hamilton who lived nearby.
Shaw says, “What I think is great is that he was a free black man. One of his parents was a slave the other one was free and he was sent to New London when he was ten years old from Virginia to have a better future.”
Shaw says the painting wasn’t stolen it is just most likely part of someone’s collection. “I”m guessing it’s probably in somebody’s household somewhere in the city and they don’t even know really what they’re looking at but it’s a great piece of folk art,” says Shaw.
The schoolhouse was covered in wide board – but after the fire which burnt the front of it – it was shingled. The inside was restored six years ago. To complete the project they need the painting to know how to restore the outside now.