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Massive bull painting found under store wall

By chirst
Dec. 26, 2012 at 6:26 a.m.
Updated Dec. 27, 2012 at 6:27 a.m.

Patsy and Scott Light discovered an old Durham Tobacco advertisement behind a wall of Sheetrock  of what once was Troy Cleaners as they prepared the building to be demolished in Goliad.

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For more information and to find more wall ads across the United States, visit Duke University Libraries website.

GOLIAD - When Scotty and Patsy Light bought the old Troy Cleaners building on Goliad's Courthouse Square, they expected to find only an old, rundown building.

But as the couple began removing the Sheetrock from inside Troy Cleaners, however, they realized a treasure was hidden within the walls.

"We came in and there was a hole in the Sheetrock" and Scotty Light thought he had seen part of a bull, Patsy Light said. "So he kept on going. He had a hammer and I had a crowbar and we just kept going and we discovered it."

Under the Sheetrock, they found a massive bull painted onto the exterior wall of the Goliad County Library, which was also the interior wall of the cleaners.

The bull was at one time a 43-foot long ad for Bull Durham Tobacco, which was one of the largest tobacco companies in the world during the late 1800s.

The ad was probably painted onto the side of the building by a "wall dog" or traveling painter between 1880-1900, said Patsy Light, a historian.

Most of the other wall ads are known as "ghost walls" today, since only the white paint remains.

The wall ad in Goliad, however, is vibrantly colored since it has been covered from the elements for more than 100 years, Light said.

"I think it fascinating that no one living has seen it," said Claudine Janota, county librarian.

Janota said she thinks it could bring more tourism to Goliad and would only add to the significance of the historical town.

Pam Jary Rosser, the conservator for the Alamo, will start the conservation work on the ad in January.

The "Wall-Dog Era" started about 1851, according to research by the John W. Harman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History at Duke University, and began outdoor advertising in the United States.

Patsy and Scotty Light are donating the money for the restoration to the county as a grant because the ad is on the outside wall of the library.

After the conservation is finished, they will tear down the building to display the bull, the first time it will see sunlight in more than 100 years.

"I think it will certainly be something people will want to see. It is a curiosity, there are wall ads all over the United States, but I haven't seen but maybe one or two in Texas," Light said.

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