Say Mount View art is 'historically significant' treasure from past
By Christian W. Peck
Public Information Officer
Niagara County Public Information Office
A pair of county lawmakers from Lockport is praising the preservation of a pair of historically significant murals painted by tuberculosis patients by the new owners of the county's former nursing home.
Legislators Tony Nemi, R-Lockport, and Wm. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, were surprised to see the two murals - one of which depicts Lockport's famed "Flight of Five" series of locks and the other that depicts the famous waterfall that shares its name with the county - on a Labor Day weekend visit to the newly opened Mount View Assisted Living. The murals date to the Mount View site's functioning as the Niagara County sanatorium, a tuberculosis ward, and were most probably painted by patients or staff there in the 1940s.
"This is a piece of art, but it's also a piece of history - our history," McNall said.
Mount View Assisted Living President David M. Tosetto discovered the artwork during rehabilitation of the site. Similar artwork was removed from the site in 2010 by county workers and turned over to the county historian's office. Tosetto had the pieces framed and displayed them prominently in a recreation room of the new privately operated assisted living facility.
"This is an important bridge to our past - both our county's and this building's," Tosetto said. "We realized we were in possession of something special - something important - when we discovered the murals, and we wanted to treat them with the proper respect. They represent the work of an artist, but they also represent a long-ago piece of medical history."
The former Niagara County sanatorium was one of many nationwide that isolated tuberculosis patients in an era before the disease became easily treatable with antibiotics.
Nemi praised Tosetto's efforts to preserve the artwork.
"The new operators of Mount View understand they own a piece of our county's heritage, and this is an extremely respectful expression of that," he said. "This is a unique piece of history from a very different era, and I'm glad these murals are displayed so prominently."