by Kristen Miller

A mystery man has been found in the Lower Waterford Library. No one knows how he got there, who he is, or who painted him - but they do know he's about 100 years old.

When Marylin Elwood was doing a photo inventory of the items and furnishings at the library last summer, she discovered a painting hidden in the back room stacks.

Since then, Elwood,librarian Dorothy Morrison, and several other people have been researching and asking around to try to find more details about the painting.

In hopes that they might recognize the subject, many older residents from the area were shown a photograph of the subject.

"We asked all the older people and no one seems to recognize him," said Morrison.

SaleeLawrence,consulting curator for the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, looked at the painting and said there are strong indications it was painted around the turn of the century.

"At first, we were thinking it was dated somewhere between 18901910, but we're trying to narrow it down a little, and make it more like 1900-1910," said Lawrence.

Lawrence said her assessment is based on the painting's wooden stretcher and the man's clothes. Additionally, there was also a patent pending label on the back of the stretcher, which suggested the era.

"The nails on the wooden stretcher seem to indicate that date - and the costume of the gentleman certainly would be appropriate for that time, particularlythecollar,"said Lawrence.

Though the painting is in pretty good shape, Lawrence said it still needs to be restored.

"The surface should be cleaned professionallyand revarnished," said Lawrence, who estimates the cost could be as little as $300.

Elwood said the trustees of the library would like to find out who the subject of the painting is before they put money into restoring it.

"We don't want to fmd out that it was someone from New York City who dropped it here. We want to know if he was a local resident," said Elwood.

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