Paul Harris sculpture

The completed sculpture of Rotary International founder Paul Harris is shown Tuesday at the Carving Studio & Sculpture Center in West Rutland.

The latest piece in the Rutland Sculpture Trail, a marble image of Paul Harris, who founded Rotary International, will be unveiled in downtown Rutland on Oct. 6.

The bust of Harris will be the seventh in the series of downtown carvings and will be on the west side of Merchants Row, outside the Opera House.

Steve Costello, one of the organizers of the sculpture trail, said the Harris piece was finished about 10 days ago.

At that point, Costello, the artists — designer Amanda Sisk and carver Evan Morse — and members of some of the local Rotary Clubs in the area who are supporting the project, toured downtown to find the right place.

“We walked pretty much around the whole downtown and everybody who was involved very quickly had the same first choice,” he said.

Costello said he expected the piece will look “really cool” when it’s mounted on the window of the Opera House.

According to the Rotary website, Harris, who was born in Wisconsin, moved to Wallingford when he was 3, where he was raised by his grandparents.

He attended the University of Vermont and Princeton University and received his law degree from the University of Iowa.

Harris practiced law in Chicago but found it very different from his childhood home.

“(Harris) had not seen this kind of camaraderie among businessmen since moving to Chicago and wondered if there was a way to channel it, because it reminded him of growing up in Wallingford,” the website said.

Harris founded Rotary in 1905. It expanded nationally and across the world.

“It’s a pretty amazing story when you think about it, how one person created an organization that just blossomed into this worldwide phenomenon that does good in so many way from that giant picture, right down to the grass roots,” Costello said.

With the number of Rotary Clubs, Costello said he’s expecting a lot of interest in the on Oct. 6 unveiling but he said precautions against COVID-19 such as masking and social distancing will be required.

Sisk, Morse and local Rotarians will be the featured speakers.

Carol Driscoll, executive director of the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, said the more she sees the piece, the more she appreciates it.

“He really craved fellowship and wanted to build community. (The artists) really tried to reflect that person and his life through his expression,” she said.

Driscoll said Harris’ image in marble looks serious and determined but shows a hint of a smile as well.

Costello said the Harris piece is “by far the simplest piece” on the sculpture trail. There was an early model of the piece that included several “wheels” representing rotaries. Removing them simplified the project, Costello said.

“It really is a much stronger piece in it’s final form than it might have been had we gone through the complicated process of including the wheels. It really highlights the fact that one person can have an inordinate and really incredible impact on not only their friends and neighbors but the world,” he said.

The public unveiling of the Harris piece, which was sculpted from Danby White marble donated by Vermont Quarries, will be at noon Oct. 6.

The project was funded by Rotary Clubs in Rutland City, Rutland South, Killington and Dalton, Mass., as well as by Rutland Blooms, retired Rutland City Schools Superintendent Mary Moran and an anonymous donor.

A second fall unveiling, of a sculpture honoring Martin Henry Freeman, who was born in Rutland and went on to become the first Black president of an American college, will be scheduled soon.


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