Print

Johann Gutenberg and Benjamin Franklin return to Wallenberg Hall

Palo Alto sculptor Oleg Lobykin recreated the statues to replace the originals, which were taken down in 1949 and later disappeared from campus.

Lisa Lapin Oleg Lobykin's statue of Benjamin Franklin being lifted to its perch on Wallenberg Hall last month.

Oleg Lobykin's statue of Benjamin Franklin being lifted to its perch on Wallenberg Hall last month.

Stanford recently returned two giants from the 15th and 18th centuries – Johann  Gutenberg, who invented movable type, and Benjamin Franklin, one of the nation's founding fathers – to their sandstone perches on Wallenberg Hall.

Palo Alto sculptor Oleg Lobykin recreated the marble statues of Gutenberg (1398-1468) and Franklin (1706-1790) to replace statues that had disappeared from campus several decades ago.

Lobykin is the proprietor of Stonesculpt, a custom stone-carving company that offers fine stonework and restoration services. Over the last decade, he has restored the sandstone urns and balustrades in front of the Main Quad. This was the first time Lobykin had created large marble statues for Stanford.

During the two-year project, Lobykin created small-scale models of the statues, a full-size marble mock-up of Franklin's hand holding a quill pen, full-sized plaster of Paris mock-ups and, finally, a video showing the finished marble statues.

Gutenberg, dressed in a long flowing robe, holds a Bible in one hand and stamps for printing in another.

Franklin, dressed in traditional colonial attire, holds a quill pen in one hand and the Declaration of Independence in the other.

L.A. CiceroStatues of Johann Gutenberg and Benjamin Franklin again grace Wallenberg Hall.

Statues of Johann Gutenberg and Benjamin Franklin again grace Wallenberg Hall.

"Oleg is a very talented sculptor," said Sapna Marfatia, associate architect in the Stanford University Architect/Campus Planning and Design Office. "During each stage, his workmanship met all our expectations."

The statues, whose faces look out over the Oval, are securely bolted to the second-story exterior of Wallenberg Hall (Building 160) and to the sandstone pedestals on which they stand. The new statues were installed Jan. 12.

The original marble statues, created by Italian sculptor Antonio Frilli, were taken down in 1949 when the building was renovated to house Stanford Law School, which occupied the building from 1950 to 1975.

In the fall of 2007, the Stanford Historical Society published an announcement in Sandstone & Tile, "Seeking Missing Statues," saying the university was looking for information about the whereabouts of the statues – or, at the least, detailed photographs of them so they could be replicated.

That's when Marfatia learned of a picture taken by photographer Leo Holub in 1960 that showed Franklin lying face down in what appeared to be construction debris in a storage yard off Santa Teresa Street. At the time he took the photo, Holub was working in Stanford's campus planning office.

In the 2007 story, Sandstone & Tile published a photograph, taken before the 1906 earthquake, which showed the two statues on their second-story perches. In the distance, the photo showed the other two Frilli marble statues – depicting Alexander von Humboldt and Louis Agassiz – standing above the entrance to Jordan Hall.

The Agassiz statue earned a distinctive place in Stanford history after it fell during the 1906 earthquake and plunged head first into the pavement below.