Elizabeth Taber comes home to crowds, speeches

Oct 17, 2020

MARION — One of Marion’s most cherished figures is now immortalized in Bicentennial Park. 

The new Elizabeth Taber statue was unveiled on Oct. 17 at a dedication complete with speeches, cupcakes and dozens of Marion residents. 

The statue was presented by Elizabeth Taber Statue Committee Chair Judy Rosbe, followed by speeches from Board of Selectmen Chair Randy Parker and Erik Durant, the statue’s sculptor. 

Rosbe detailed the process of getting the statue made for Marion. She said the committee decided unanimously on Durant out of three potential sculptors, who ended up convincing the committee with his artistic vision. 

“Our committee had a lot of ideas for him,” Rosbe said. “But Erik had done all this research.” 

Committee members suggested that the statue place Taber in a more traditionally ladylike and modest pose than Durant had originally proposed. But eventually, Durant won out, and his vision for the statue was kept. 

“She’s in what’s called a contrapposto pose,” Rosbe said. 

The pose is intended to give the statue a dynamic and emotive feeling, as Taber gazes across the park at the buildings she helped build on Spring Street.

Rosbe said the statue will be cleaned yearly, to “make sure she doesn’t turn green.” 

Rosbe’s dedication was followed by Parker, who told an abridged version of Taber’s story, from her birth, to her shrewd investments in railroads with her husband in New Bedford, to her return to Marion as a wealthy woman and benefactor to the community. 

At the end of his speech, Parker entertained a motion to accept the statue, which the board passed unanimously. 

Last up was Durant, who went into detail on the thought process behind the statue. He said the statue was intended to be interacted with and viewed from all sides. 

While most statues are meant to be viewed and not touched, Taber is meant to be sat down with, spoken to and interacted with.

In her dedication, Rosbe said she hopes Marion residents will sit with Taber, and thank her for all she’s done for the town. 

Durant also spoke on the debate on whether Taber should be holding a pipe as she sits on her bench, even adding that it’s likely she was smoking certain herbs instead of tobacco. 

Ultimately, the committee decided Taber should have her pipe, despite suggestions that it might set a bad example for Marion’s youth.

“You know what, this is history,” Rosbe said. “And if she smoked a pipe, she smoked a pipe.”