NORWOOD — Workers remodeling an old building in the heart of Norwood on Monday uncovered a 20-by-9-foot lithograph on an outdoor wall promoting a traveling theater troupe's production of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" about 100 years ago.
The unexpected find had passersby stopping their cars on Main Street in the village to take pictures and local residents marveling at the unusual piece of hidden history.
Norwood Village Historian Anthony Nocerino said the lithograph is very frail and will not survive long exposed to the elements. He said he already has contacted St. Lawrence County officials in Canton to see if there is a way to preserve the artifact.
Mr. Nocerino said the lithograph promotes a production of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" to be performed on Christmas Day in Norwood, although the date of the performance is unreadable.
He said the lithograph was produced by the Erie Lithograph Co. of Pennsylvania sometime between 1880 and 1917, when the company went out of business.
Amanda Steffenhagen, whose mother owns the Norwood Diner, is one of those who stopped to marvel at and take pictures of the historical artifact. She said she hopes village officials can find a way to keep the lithograph while still allowing construction crews to rehabilitate the old building between Community Bank and the Norwood Post Office.
"I would put a frame around it and put glass over it. No way would I ever tear it down," Ms. Steffenhagen said.
Mr. Nocerino said he too hopes a way to preserve the artifact can be found, but he expressed doubts given the age, frailty and probable expense of trying to either encapsulate or remove a 20-by-9-foot section of wall.
"If there is anyone interested in saving it we would like to hear from them," he said. "But it is extremely fragile. I'm afraid it's going to be lost."
Mr. Nocerino said work crews were persuaded to cover the color lithograph temporarily, but he is unsure of what will happen to it in the coming days.
"Right now it's covered up with plastic because the wind was starting to tear big chunks out of it," he said.