Cheryl Roberts and Jennifer Berry enjoy themselves at the Foss Mansion Centennial Party. The two, who are interested in becoming members of the Woman’s Literary Union, got into the spirit of the event and dressed in the fashion of their favorite decade. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — The Woman’s Literary Union kicked off its fundraising campaign Saturday night with a period-costume party to celebrate the Foss Mansion’s centennial. 

WLU President Kathy Lawrence said the goal is to raise $200,000 to put toward maintaining and repairing the 100-year-old mansion on Elm Street.

“I know it’s a lot of money, but I think we can do it,” Lawrence said. “We can make this house last another 100 years.” 

She said the mansion was gifted to the Woman’s Literary Union by Ella Foss, who with her husband, Horatio Foss, were the original owners of the house.

A Literary Union  member, Ella Foss passed away in 1941. Because she and Horatio never had children, their house was given to the union. 

“We are the caretakers of the building,” Lawrence said. 

At least 51 items in the house are original and most of the other items are nearly as old, if not older. 

“The house requires a lot of upkeep,”  WLU historian Denise Scammon said. “There are so many things we’d like to do.” 

The list of projects includes attic insulation, plumbing upgrades and repairs, interior painting, exterior and storm window replacement and the addition of handicapped-accessible bathrooms. 

Some major repairs have already been done, including repairing and repaving the driveway, repairing the foundation of the house and garage and replacing the Carriage House. 

Lawrence said the union depends a lot on donations and volunteers to get things done. 

Betty Turgeon came up with the idea to host a centennial party to showcase the house.

“I love the house, the architecture and the fact it has survived 100 years. We are the second owners of the house,” Turgeon said. “She’s starting to show her age, but she’s still a beautiful house.” 

Proceeds from the party tickets were the first contribution to the capital campaign. A $35 ticket got you appetizers and desserts, wine and beer or non-alcoholic beverages. 

Friends Cheryl Roberts and Jennifer Berry, both from L-A, decided to come to the party because of a Facebook post. 

“I saw it and asked if she wanted to go,” Roberts said. “Then I saw we were supposed to dress up as your favorite decade.” 

Roberts dressed in her best 1970s disco get-up and Berry donned a Jennifer Grey-esque ’80s ensemble. 

“We’re big into Lewiston-Auburn community events,” Roberts said. “We were saying it would be nice to get even more involved and meet new people.” 

They had both been to the house before for events but decided at the party to become members of the Literary Union. 

Berry said it seemed like something that would be fun to do. 

Member Cheryl Pelletier said if someone wants to become a member there is a brochure at the house you fill out and pay a fee depending on the level of involvement you prefer.  

Benefits include being able to attend monthly events, including Bunco games, a book club and themed teas. Members also can rent the house for a party at a discounted rate. Many members also are involved in the Prom Dress Giveaway.

Ron Martin and Norm Turgeon wait patiently for their wives and daughters at the Foss Mansion on Saturday evening. The centennial party was in honor of the mansion’s 100th year. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Upcoming events at Foss Mansion

* Santa Tea, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2. $5 per person.

* Holiday Open House, 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, and Sunday, Dec. 3. $5 per person.

* Christmas High Tea, 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, featuring the League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen. $25 per person; reservations required.


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