A piece of history here on campus

By Jessica Marrella
April 29, 2004

Pictures by Cecelia Francisco, photoshop graphic by Angelina Wagner

In the near future, Cabrini will be applying to the National Registry of Historical Places. Built 103 years ago, Cabrini’s Mansion is considered to be a landmark building.

This upcoming Sunday, May 2, the alumni affairs office will be giving tours of the Mansion starting at 1 p.m. Tours run every half hour and last approximately one hour. The cost is $10 per person, $3 for Cabrini students and $5 for seniors and outside students. Light refreshments will be served.

All proceeds go to the Mansion’s fund. This fund was started as an alumni project and helps repair and restore the Mansion. In the past the money has been used to replace carpet, repair lighting and fix the ceiling. Each year alumni raise about $2,500 to contribute to the fund.

For the past 15 years, the Mansion tour has been an annual event run by alumni volunteers. The four tour guides include Martha Dale, the Director of Alumni Affairs, Michael Caranfa, who has been with Cabrini for thirty years, Nancy Costello, class of ’71 and Jacque Murray, class of ’69. Lori Cellucci, class of ’87 and chair of the mansion tour, is also very involved.

The tour guides and chair have spent a lot of time educating themselves about the Mansion. Their interest in the Mansion’s history sparked when George Thomas, who is a nationally recognized authority of historical architecture, came to visit Cabrini. Since then, alumni involved have done individual research and even contacted the butler that worked for the Durrance’s, the second family to live in the Mansion before Cabrini bought it.

Because the Mansion tour has been an annual event for so long, the planning is almost like clockwork. Each tour guide is assigned to a different section of the Mansion. Information covered during the tours include architecture, the buildings history, how families lived at the time that the Mansion was built, famous people that have passed through and the early years of the college.

Invitations were mailed out to local parents, alumni, neighbors and organizations in early April. In the past, the tours have had as many as 125 people participate and as few as 40-50. “I’m really hoping for a good turn out this year, especially from students,” Dale said.

So what makes the Mansion such an interesting place? For one, Horace Trumbauer was the architect. He is the person that designed the Widener Library at Harvard University and the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Another reason for the Mansion’s appeal is that the Paul and Durrance families both lived there. The Paul family built the mansion in 1901 and then the Durrance family bought it from them. The Durrances family is the one who started the Campbell Soup company. The Mansion was the site of many elaborate social parties while the families lived there.

A highlight of the tour is the basement. During his tour Caranfa points out a hidden room. Another interesting room is upstairs. The Pauls and Durrances used the room as a linen closet even though it is big enough to house three people as a triple.

If you would like to make a reservation please call Donna Potts at extension 8226.

Posted to the web by Cecelia Francisco

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Jessica Marrella

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