It was a perfect garden party Saturday evening as 150 family, friends and members of the community gathered at Bob Elion's home for the unveiling of a statue he hopes will remain a historic part of the city of Williamsport for hundreds of years.
About four years ago, Elion, a member of Preservation Williamsport for 25 years, replaced the sidewalks outside his home on Millionaires Row on West Fourth Street and saw that the original stone curbings were 8 inches in width, 3 feet deep, 9 feet long and weighed thousands of pounds.
He did not want to throw out such historic stones so he kept them in his yard. He called a friend, Jon Bogel, a sculptor and a retired art professor at Lycoming College, and asked if it would be possible to turn the stone curbings into a statue for his side yard. The answer was yes.
Guests, dressed in white, inspect a stone sculpture that was unveiled Saturday at the home of Bob Elion. The sculpture was made of stone curbs and slate sidewalks that were unearthed at the house.
Andy Lyon, right, cuts open and serves fresh oysters during an unveiling of a stone sculpture at the home of Bob Elion on Saturday.
Children unveil a stone sculpture at the home of Bob Elion on Saturday. The sculpture was made from stone curbs and slate sidewalks that were unearthed near his house on Millionaires Row.
Elion asked another friend, Butchie Adelson, to design a platform for the statue to stand on. Adelson designed a platform that consisted of two, 20-inch, square columns separated by 20 inches.
Mark "Tex" Master, a master mason, constructed the platform for the statue.
On June 28, Elion, Bogel and Adelson rented an excavator, and Adelson used the machine to lift the large stones and place them in the spots that Bogel directed, so it would form the statue that Bogel envisioned. The sculpture was created with only the stone curbings and no other materials.
"We did not make anything for it," Bogel said.
As people gathered in Elion's yard before the unveiling Saturday evening, many guests anticipated what the statue would look like.
"I am pretty excited to see what it is, because I know Bob has great taste," Jane Gallagher said prior to the unveiling.
While waiting, the guests, all dressed in white, socialized in the yard with drinks, an oyster bar and other foods. A violinist played music to entertain the guests.
"I think this is an amazing event that Bob Elion has put together, and he does these kind of things for the community," guest Jack Humphrey said.
After much anticipation, it was time to unveil the statue. Elion, Bogel and Adelson stood in front of their guests, pulled back the cloth and unveiled the statue. As guests saw the statue the first time, they shouted out what they thought it was. One woman said she thought it looked like a library.
"I thought it was organic and full of life," Alissa Dubois said.
"I think it is a wonderful use of historical rock," Russ Kimura said.
"It is a marvelous sculpture, and I hope it is here for hundreds of years," Humphrey added.
Elion said he hopes the statue remains a part of Williamsport's history.
"In 200 years, people are going say, 'what was this about?' " Elion said. "We can tell the story."
He also said he hopes people pass his yard and admire the sculpture that he and his friends worked so hard to create.
"I've designed this yard to be private but not a compound. People can come through to look and see what is going on, and people have really respected this," Elion said.