George Kane had just arrived at an estate sale when he spotted a John Gould painting of the old bridge on Forge Hill Road.
Remembering the bridge, Mr. Kane glanced at the print that had been signed by the artist. There was no haggling over price. Mr. Kane purchased the painting, and on Nov. 15 he donated it to the Cornwall Public Library along with a two-page description of the bridge’s history.
In addition to being an illustrator for “The Saturday Evening Post” and General Electric, John Gould painted several scenes of local and historic interest (including one that he presented to Gov. Mario Cuomo). His studio was on Bethlehem Road near Route 94.
Two of his sons, Bill and Paul, were on hand for the Nov. 15 presentation. They remembered the old bridge, as did George Kane.
The bridge, which was built in the 19th century, was barely wide enough for two cars to pass. Kids loved to play on the embankment underneath the bridge. If you look carefully at the painting, you’ll notice a pair of youngsters in the foreground — one on shore and the other on a rock in mid-stream.
Paul Gould said that his father would make up to 500 prints of a painting (never more) and would sign each one. Paul and Bill Gould remembered their father working on this piece, and said that the original was in water color.
The scene is set in 1910, with a turn-of-the-century vehicle motoring over the creek. The old bridge was narrow but sturdy. It withstood a five-day deluge that flooded most of the area and destroyed other bridges in 1903.
Library Director Mary Lou Carolan accepted the gift from Mr. Kane and said she would hang it in the Community Room. She also planned to frame the narrative that tells the story of the bridge and the body of water that was once known as “Murderer’s Creek.”
Other works by John Gould are on display in the library.