The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, October 13, 2021 1:00 am

63,807-piece anniversary gift

Lego mansion arrives at last

Brookside replica at St. Francis after artist's long journey

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Jason Pyett didn't anticipate problems delivering a 15th wedding anniversary gift he was commissioned to make for a University of Saint Francis dean – but then he arrived at the U.S.-Canada border.

Pyett could laugh about the experience Tuesday as he installed the creation – a 63,807-piece, 134-pound Lego replica of the university's Brookside Mansion – at the campus welcome center.

“The travel was a story unto itself,” said Pyett, founder of Playwell Bricks, a company offering custom Lego commission services.

After driving 20 hours from Nova Scotia, the Canadian arrived at the Windsor-Detroit border at 7 p.m. Friday.

“And I was turned away,” Pyett said, noting U.S. custom agents deemed his travel non-essential.

Fortunately, he said, his Playwell Bricks teammate Norm Roldan was already in Fort Wayne because the Lego structure was expected to be at the Brickworld event that weekend. Roldan drove to the border, and Canadian customs agents let the men transfer the bubble-wrapped replica to Roldan's SUV at 1 a.m.

That's when Pyett, who usually ships his commissioned projects, discovered the customs agents had damaged the hollow Lego mansion while searching his van earlier.

“They just smashed it,” Pyett said. “They utterly destroyed one section.”

Pyett eventually arrived in the Summit City via a nine-hour drive to Montreal and a flight to Indianapolis. He began repairing the mansion Monday in Robert and Andrea Geyer's garage.

By then, Robert Geyer had let Andrea Geyer in on the long-kept anniversary surprise. He initially commissioned the project envisioning the Brookside replica on display in her campus office, which has a view of the mansion.

Andrea Geyer – the university's dean of the College of Arts, Sciences and Business – immediately questioned her husband about the size when he showed her pictures, she recalled.

The couple, who enjoy working on Lego projects with their four children, decided to donate Pyett's creation to the university. Donor relations helped find the perfect fit, they said – the welcome center along Spring Street.

“A lot more students will see it here,” Andrea Geyer said.

Pyett created the replica using pictures of the mansion. Finally seeing the building in person was moving, he said, explaining he became intimately familiar with it during the build process.

The massive project arrived at its destination with only one piece missing – a green wedge piece.

Among the hundreds of Legos the Geyers own, Robert Geyer found the exact piece Pyett needed. It came from a Spider-Man set.

“Spider-Man saved the day,” Robert Geyer said.

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