In August 1895, Samuel Clemens – better known as Mark Twain – visited Fairhaven. Artist Gary Lee Price’s life-sized bronze sculpture of Twain seated on a bench, reading a book, joins similar nearby sculptures of Fairhaven founder Dirty Dan Harris and community leader J.J. Donovan. Donated by community member Michael Botwin to the City of Bellingham and Village Books, the bench has space so visitors can sit awhile with the legendary writer and humorist.
The dedication ceremony included comments from local history author Brian Griffin, who recounted Twain’s visit to Fairhaven. Other speakers included Village Books and Paper Dreams co-owner Kelly Evert, who commented on Twain’s contribution to literature; Bellingham City Council member Gene Knutson, who shared how the Twain sculpture reflects the city’s commitment to the arts; Michael Botwin, who donated the bench; and sculptor Gary Lee Price.
- Brian Griffin – Mark Twain in Fairhaven
Brian is the author of Fairhaven, a History, Boulevard Park, My Darling
Anna and Treasures From The Trunk: The J.J. Donovan Story.
- Kelly Evert – Mark Twain’s Contribution to Literature
Kelly is one of three owners of Village Books. She has been in the independent books business since 1989. Over the years, Kelly worked for Port Book and News in Port Angeles, Michaels books, Eagle Harbor Book Company and Village Books in Bellingham before buying Village Books.
- Council Member Gene Knutson – The Bellingham Art Scene
Gene is a lifelong Bellingham resident and the longest-serving member of the Bellingham City Council (since 1993). He dedicated his public service to help make Bellingham an even better place to live. Some of his projects include the Civic Field renovation project, the purchase of the ice arena, the Depot Market Square project, and the Waterfront Master Plan.
- Michael Botwin – The Mark Twain bench’s history in Bellingham
Mike is a former California Deputy Attorney General who prosecuted consumer fraud for 33 years. Upon retirement in 2002, he moved to Bellingham with his wife Anne and purchased the Mark Twain bench. By donating it to the city, Mike hopes it brings the same joy to Bellingham’s residents that it brought to him during the 16 years It lived in his living room.
- Gary Lee Price (sculptor) – Anybody’s Guess
Gary is a world-famous sculptor with thousands of his works in public and private collections around the globe. The Mark Twain bench is part of a series of benches of famous people including Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, The Wright Brothers, Monet and Shakespeare. He is a fellow of the National Sculpture Society. Gary has been selected to sculpt the Statue of Responsibility which will be a 305 feet high statue of vertically clasped hands that will be installed on the West Coast to supplement the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast which is the same height. (See garyleeprice.com).