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Bringing history back to life in Niagara Falls

Posted at 11:33 PM, Jan 09, 2020

NIAGARA FALLS N.Y. (WKBW) — A lost piece of history in Niagara Falls has been brought back to life by a local artist.

It all started last summer, when Patrick Whelan, Director at the Niagara Global Tourism Institute,, was renovating what's now the TReC building on Niagara Street and discovered a Quaker Oats painting.

This painting is a billboard ad, made in the 1900s by Thomas Cusack, one of the originators of outdoor advertising, according to Whalen.

"By the time he was in his 60s he had 100 offices around the country including one in Buffalo...he painted 100,000 of these billboards," said Whalen.

Because of weather and wear and tear over the years, all of Cusack's paintings are gone, except for the one in Niagara Falls. This painting was covered up shortly after it was made, which is why it's lasted all these years.

At some point, a yellow square was painted, covering most of the Quaker man.

"So what we decided to do was paint what was missing on canvas," said Whalen. He just needed the perfect artist to do it.

That's where artist David Jones comes in. He stopped by the TReC building and offered his painting services. He quickly made this sketch and the rest is history.

"I'm just thankful I got to step in his shoes. Any sign painter who's ever painted a sign in the United States would love to do what I did," said Jones.

His work and Cusack's will stay on that wall as a part of Western New York's rich history.