For over 10,000 years, majesty, nobility and protection have emanated from lion statues, greeting visitors to homes and cities since the beginning of civilization. We like the idea of welcoming our guests and keeping them safe with the aid of ancient, mythological symbols. When we bought Shafer Baillie Mansion in 2004 we were delighted to inherit from the previous owners two beautiful, stone lions.
We took to these brave creatures so well that we decided to increase their numbers. First we purchased a new set of lions, the type that holds paws up. However, these were promptly stolen, much to our chagrin.
Not to be dissuaded, we determined to find more valiant lions, some that would not be so easily stolen, and that sat vertically to contrast with the original lions, so we found a set with a shield and brought them home to the mansion-however we continue to look for some that would have a more appropriate scale to the mansion.
After 8 years of faithfully greeting our guests the shielded loins have been moved to the terrace and a new impressive pair has taken their place. These new kids on the block are no Foo Dogs, but they have some Asian features and are not lying down… And they weighed two tons each!
Through uncanny coincidence, some guests recognized these particular guardians, sharing with our manager Brenda over breakfast that they had seen these lions before. Curiosity led us through research and a trail of emails until we learned that indeed our lions had previously adorned a beach house on Fox Island near where our guests had lived.
As the story goes, the lions we had come to call our own were purchased in Vietnam as a gift from a loving wife to her husband, the two young lions at the base represent their two sons.
It was quite an effort to bring the big cats home. Fortunately the folks we purchased the new lions from had a towing business. Their equipment came in handy for hoisting the majestic statues onto the back of a friend’s trailer for the ride to Shafer Baillie.
Once at the mansion, though, it was another story. It took many hours and three strong men to unload these marble kings of the jungle onto the sidewalk. Since the lion’s share of the day was gone, we had no choice but to leave them there overnight, tied to the fence. The next day we hired safe movers — people who move safes — to place them on either side of the stairs.
We love our lions and hope you will enjoy these noble guardians as much as we do. Feel free to roar in their presence.