Statuesque lion restoredPublished 11:15pm Wednesday, November 16, 2011
VANDALIA — The little white lion that stands sentinel in front of the Bonine House at M-60 and Penn Road has a fan club.
“Lucky” also has a story with a happy ending.
The statue was not always white – or in one piece.
It didn’t have a name when the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC) purchased the historic Bonine House in December.
The lion was a lump of grey cement with a tail and no nose to speak of.
In early spring URSCC received a photo from Kate Porath Torrans that showed her and her brother, Ernie, posing with the statue in 1938 when they lived on the Bonine property.
That’s all that Dowagiac artist and URSCC member Gary Weaver needed for inspiration. He decided to restore the lion.
When he began clearing brush, he noticed that parts of the snout were lying on the lion’s paws. Using these pieces and other vintage photos he recreated the lion’s face.
Now, after touring the Bonine House, kids take a photo and rub his nose for luck.
Many remember two lions in front of the Bonine House. Some say the two lions were stolen many years ago and only one returned.
To read Kate and Ernie Porath’s Bonine House memories and to learn more about the Bonine House and the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County, go to urscc.org.
Tax-deductible donations to help restore the Bonine House and Carriage House may be sent to URSCC, P.O. Box 124, Vandalia MI 49095 or donate online at urscc.org.