By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Hopkinton – It has been just over a year since a 4-foot cement statue of the Virgin Mary was unearthed at the Golden Pond Assisted Living Facility during a 38,000 square foot expansion project. The construction has since been completed as has the statue restoration. Recently ?residents and staff gathered in Golden Pond's newly renovated chapel to celebrate the transformation.
The restoration was completed by Upton resident Rita Kozel who heard about the statue discovery from friend and Golden Pond resident, Bill Wood. Graciously, she offered to donate her time to restore it.
“When I first saw Mary she was covered in moss. She looked like she had no hair or facial features and her eyes were closed, but she was structurally sound,” Kozel recalled. “I began the restoration by sanding the statue, patching it a few times and then priming it twice. Then, I put a hint of green on the snake so that it would “pop” a little bit. Afterwards, I changed the color from dark blue to a more stone-like appearance, added gold to the trim and gave Mary her facial features back.”
The statue remained locked in a little room at Golden Pond (where none could see her) while she was restored to her original splendor. The work was completed in about two months, but Mary remained “hidden” until her “grand reveal” in December.
“She was definitely meant to be there,” said Kozel, who said she felt honored to “bring life back to Mary.”
The history behind the statue has been unearthed with it.
According to Hopkinton resident Sandy Altamura, the statue was bought in the late 1950s or early 1960s by her grandfather Robert Claflin. It was purchased in honor of his granddaughter (and Altamura's sister) Beverly Jean King who died just three days after her birth in early September 1947. Beverly died of pneumonia at Framingham Union Hospital – choking to death while her nurse went outside to have a cigarette.
Claflin brought the statue to Beverly's grave at Evergreen Cemetery, but was told that it was “too Catholic” for this particular site. Altamura recalls the statue being brought back to her house where it spent some time in the front hall closet before it ended up in Claflin's garden. In the years that followed, the statue fell over and was buried. The land on which it stood was sold to Golden Pond in the early 1990s – where it remained buried until December of 2012 when it was unearthed by a backhoe.
“My entire family is thrilled that the statue has been restored and is residing in the chapel at Golden Pond,” said Altamura. “She is right where she belongs. It is a wonderful ending to the story.”
The staff and residents at Golden Pond are equally thrilled to have Mary in their chapel. Many recited the “Hail Mary” when the restoration was unveiled.
“The statue is truly such a treasure,” said Shelley Ryan, director of marketing for Golden Pond. “We couldn’t be happier to have her here.”