Committee starts statue fundraising
MARION — The Celebrate Elizabeth Taber Committee has raised $60,000 of a $200,000 goal to erect a life-size bronze statue of Marion’s benefactress in Bicentennial Park in 2020. The group plans to continue fundraising efforts over time, even having Taber come to the Fourth of July parade (with pipe in hand).
The Sippican Historical Society donated $50,000 in funds and is helping with donations to allow donors to make tax deductions. Tabor Academy also contributed $10,000 to kick off the project. The funds will allow for lighting, landscaping and maintaining the statue, in addition to installing it.
Elizabeth Taber was born as Elizabeth Sprague Pitcher in 1791 on Main and South Streets. In 1824, she married Stephen Taber, an Acushnet clockmaker, and they had three children, all of whom died before the age of five. Her grief was compounded by the deaths of her five brothers, who were all lost at sea or died of illness. A few years later, her husband died, too. He had successfully invested in whaling ships and railroads, and Elizabeth, shrewd with money herself, continued to amass a sizable fortune.
Eight years after losing her husband, Taber decided to move back to Marion. She began her plan “for the improvement and embellishment of my native place, lovely Marion, village by the sea.”
First, she built a library and a Natural History Museum, paved roads, put in stone walls, and planted trees. After sea captains built the Congregational Church, she donated an organ and constructed the chapel across the road for a Sunday School for children. She founded Tabor Academy in 1876 (naming it for Mount Tabor, not for herself). She also built a home for Tabor’s first headmaster, Clark P. Howland, and then she moved into two rooms upstairs. She died there in 1888, at the age of 97.
In her will, Taber left funds for a Music Hall for lectures and concerts, as well as numerous endowment funds for maintenance of her creations. Although she kept very much alone, she had many friends and townsfolk revered her for her courage, her boundless generosity, and her persistent vision for her town’s future.
The committee hopes to erect the statue by 2020 to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of women getting the right to vote. Marion Selectmen endorse the project.
The Celebrate Elizabeth Taber Committee encourages Marion residents to donate to the project by sending a check to the Sippican Historical Society at PO Box 541. For more information or to make a donation online, visit sippicanhistoricalsociety.org.