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Lawyer for Mystery Benefactor of Virginia Woolf Monument Comes Forward

September 29, 1994

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ It’s not that he’s afraid of publicly honoring Virginia Woolf - it’s just that he’s a modest man, his lawyer said.

Attorney Donna M. Turley declined to identify the mystery benefactor who placed a granite bench inscribed with the writer’s words in a park. She would say only that the man and some friends carried the bench into the stand of pines at Fresh Pond Reservation on Sunday.

″He likes this grove,″ Turley said Wednesday during a news conference at the site. ″It is a place he enjoys coming to, and he wants others who enjoy it to have the bench for rest and meditation, if they want.″

She declined to say how much the man had paid for the bench, but some estimates said such an item would cost at a couple of thousand dollars.

City officials decided to allow the finely crafted bench with an inscription from the novel ″Orlando″ to remain at the site, not far from Fresh Pond.

″With all the negative press that’s out there, to see someone do something like this is a really positive gesture,″ said Mike Nicoloro, managing director of the Cambridge Water Department, which owns the land.

As news of the mystery spread Wednesday, people made a pilgrimage to the sprawling park and offered their opinions of the motive.

″Now, what I’m wondering is, did they bury someone there, or spread somebody’s ashes?″ asked Kay Hudgins.

″Because why else would they put a bench?″ she said, brushing stray pine needles from the polished surface.

″I suspect a woman was behind this,″ conjectured Pam Varley, who walks her springer spaniel Ellie through the reservation every day. ″It’s a womanly quote and it’s a womanly author and it’s a womanly idea.″

Pat McElearney read the inscription aloud to her husband: ″There are wild birds’ feathers - the owls, the nightjars. I shall dream wild dreams. I should lie at peace here with only the sky above.″

″Somebody who liked to think put this here,″ she said. ″It’s the perfect spot. Of course, it’s going to bother me, how it got in here.″

One trail biker speculated that the bench was left by aliens. His companion suggested that the culprit was the CIA.

″A rogue intellectual. There are plenty of those in Cambridge,″ Varley said.

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