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Home Bordentown Register News Bordentown News Bordentown post donates restored painting of WWI vet to library

Bordentown post donates restored painting of WWI vet to library

Bordentown post donates restored painting of WWI vet to library
Paula Hall (left) and Rita Bell (right), who have family ties to Irvin V. Hamilton, stand in front of his newly restored portrait at the Bordentown Library on Nov. 14. Hamilton was the first Bordentown resident to be killed in WWI. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann

The Bordentown Library was gifted with a piece of the area’s history on Nov. 14.

On that day, Bordentown’s Post 26 American Legion, named in honor of Irvin V. Hamilton, dedicated a restored painting of him to the public facility for permanent display.

Hamilton serves as a historic figure to Bordentown.

He was the first resident to die in action in World War I.

The local post for military veterans was named in his honor where a portrait of him, thought to be dated sometime between 1930 and 1940, hung on display at the post’s original location on Route 206.

After the post’s building had been sold, the painting pf Hamilton had been “lost” according to Post 26 adjutant, Marvin Zaveloff.

As Zaveloff set out on quest to find the painting where, with help from post member J.C. Platt, said he found the painting behind a stack of boxes at the Bordentown Old City Hall.

The painting, in need of restoration, was sent to a conservator in Lambertville for enhancement. In the midst of the restoration process, Zaveloff said that a signature on the painting was discovered as Edward R. Burke, another Bordentown resident and an internationally acclaimed artist.

After the painting was restored, members of the post decided to donate it to the library for a special “revealing” event as relatives of both Hamilton and Burke were present to see the newly restored portrait.

Deborah Ethington, whose grandfather was Burke, said the portrait’s reveal brought back pleasant memories of her childhood from seeing his work on display yet again.

“It’s part of my heritage, so I wanted to come and participate,” Ethington said. “We have a lot of my grandfather’s paintings, so it just brings another one back, so we can see it.”

Also on hand to witness the portrait’s reveal was Rita Bell, whose husband’s uncle was Hamilton, and said the painting’s new home at the library meant a lot to her family.

“I think it’s significant that it’s a part of Bordentown’s history and now it’s in a permanent place because it was part of the legion that was active here at one time, and it’s a remembrance,” Bell said.

Bell, who raised her family in Bordentown for 37 years, said that although most of them no longer live in Bordentown, she’s happy to know that a part of their own history will remain in the area.

“That part of their history, even though we’ve all moved away, is still here in Bordentown,” Bell said. “They’ll have some roots in Bordentown because ‘Uncle Irvin’ is here.”