The Case of the Missing Painting

This past winter, as we prepared for the exhibit, “Our Many Heritages,” I began research. I was particularly interested in finding out if street names in the Cape Cod Lane neighborhood were, in fact, chosen because this land had once been owned by the Revere family. There are three names in particular–Paul, Anna, and Margaret Streets, which I assumed had been named for Paul Revere, and Anna and Margaret, his great-great-granddaughters. This seemed likely since the neighborhood was begun in the 1950s and Anna and Margaret had been living in the town at the time. I have yet to find a definitive answer to my question. Along the way, however, I discovered something much more interesting!

Tucked away in the back of a booklet from the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities was an article from the Patriot Ledger written by Fred Hanson. I remember Fred, a tall man who covered our local news. The article talked about Robert (Bob) Lesieur, a Canton artist who had been commissioned by Mary Ann Buckley Curran, owner of a local art gallery, to do a painting of Paul Revere for the 1996 Canton Telephone book cover. “Ha”, I thought, “another painting of Paul Revere!?” I knew there were only two paintings of Paul Revere done during his lifetime. One, when he was perhaps in his early 40s, and one when he was an older gentleman.

I was, to say the least, mightily intrigued! I immediately told the young and enthusiastic reference and local history librarian, Ashley Perry, about my find. Could she help me locate this painting? I had no idea where it might be because I had never heard it mentioned before. She and I set out to learn everything we could about both Robert Lesieur and his painting. I felt that this painting would somehow prove vital to our exhibit featuring the Reveres.

For the next week or two Ms. Perry and I scoured the internet and talked to local historians. Many people remembered Bob Lesieur, some knew of the painting, but no one knew where it was. The newspaper article had mentioned that, in 1996, town fathers had thought to auction the painting to the highest bidder. But they had then thought better of it and decided to sell it to a private buyer. But who was this mystery buyer?

During a family gathering, I happened to mention my quandary to Joe Roman, dear friend, life-long resident of Canton and long-time library employee. Joe immediately got out his cell phone, and without even telling me who he was calling, he dialed Mona Podgurski. Within minutes we had our answer. Mona, who has been president of the Canton Art Association for over 20 years and is a talented and highly accomplished artist herself, remembered Bob and the painting well. The painting was hanging in the lobby of the Bank of Canton—under our noses this whole time!

Mona graciously offered to approach the Bank of Canton to see if they would loan us the painting for the second annual Heritage Day Festival. She spoke with Eric Cappellano, a capable and friendly Floating Branch Manager/Officer who in turn relayed our request to Mr. Stephen Costello, President and CEO. Finally, the answer came last Friday; Bank of Canton has generously agreed to loan us the painting for the exhibit and Festival! We were all thrilled and very grateful to the Bank of Canton for their generosity.

Most Cantonites know that Paul Revere once lived and worked here. His ties to the town are well documented. Yet, in doing this and other research, it has become apparent that Revere’s presence is felt in different ways at different times in the town’s history. Each generation seems to embrace and rediscover his legacy for themselves. This painting proves that. It is going to form the core of our exhibit on Revere for the “Our Many Heritages” exhibit.

There is nothing more satisfying than solving a good mystery except, perhaps, seeing the real thing in real time. We hope many will join us on May 20th to see not just this rediscovered painting, but to rediscover Paul Revere, as well as many other significant contributors to our town’s growth in “Our Many Heritages” exhibit.

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