I felt fortunate to see the centuries-old Parthenon in Athens back in 2008 when the Swellesleys went abroad as a family for the first and only time to date. The Swellesley juniors were deep into the Percy Jackson books at the time, and their enthusiasm for all things Greek enveloped the family.
More recently, I plotted a run while visiting Nashville to view the full-scale Parthenon replica near Vanderbilt College. The structure was built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Athena would have been proud.
But little did I realize that my Parthenon studies were incomplete until Wellesley Free Library made us aware that it was displaying a deliciously spectacular gingerbread-and-candy replica of the temple this season thanks to the efforts of Wellesley resident Grant Brown, family and friends, who have a history of gingerly building such elaborate structures. I rushed right over to see it, being careful not to touch or snack on it, for fear of leaving it in ruins. It’ll be there until the end of this year.
History.com describes the Parthenon as being “a symbol of the power, wealth and elevated culture of Athens,” and so this version of the architectural masterpiece could be said to be doing the same for our fair town, on a more modest scale.
The artist speaks
Brown says this year’s creation was inspired by a family trip to Greece this summer where they toured the Acropolis and the Parthenon. “We thought that amazing structure would be a fun inspiration. I had contemplated building the mountain and collection of temples at the top, but that seemed too aggressive given my day job and work-related travel,” he says.
Brown said he and his wife had many friends and family over on Sunday to help decorate the gingerbread house.
“My parents asked me last week to calculate the dollars and time spent on the preparation. I have steadfastly refused to do so. (Mainly because I’d introduce a bit of depression into the mix!),” says Brown, whose family has been hosting gingerbread parties for 18 years to help kick off the holidays.
“As for anyone tempted to disobey the Library’s signs, I speak from a position of authority when I say: Obey the Do Not Touch request! Some of the candy on every house is leftover and saved from prior years. It’s possible that the gummy bear that looks so enticing on the lawn of the Parthenon is circa 2016!”
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