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Betsy’s Corner: The Young Mansion is alive and well

I got a tour of the Young Mansion!

This impressive place is a historic palace thanks to three men who had a collective vision and made it a reality! Thanks to Andrew Lam, Chris Orzulak and HenryClement the house is a product of adaptive re-use as a collection of businesses within the historic district.

For ages, I walked past the Young Mansion or drove by it in my car and thought how sad it looked. It was heartbreaking and depressing like a painfully slow death. A bank foreclosed on it and the front porch was about to fall off as recently as 2015. But we are all fortunate because it has come back to life!

This has been a huge undertaking and countless hours have been spent restoring, fixing and repairing the inside and outside of the historic home prominently on our town green. The architecture of the Brewer-Young Mansion is unique in our town. Longmeadow consists of several early colonial era wooden structures and homes from the 20th Century predominately. The large and imposing white painted mansion with tall columns and high profile was built in 1884-1885 during the Victorian Era, in the Colonial Revival style. It was constructed during a transitional time period as the rural farming community was changing and a suburban community full of commuters was born. In the 1880s we became a “Streetcar Suburb.”

Edward and Henry Wolcott built the large home for their father Reverend Samuel Wolcott, known for composing hymns. At one point it was covered in brown shingles. In 1901 it was sold to State Senator George Brewer who sold it to his friend, Mrs. Wilbur F. Young in 1921. She was the widow and former wife and co-inventor of Absorbine, Jr. a horse and later human liniment. Mary Ida Young(1865-1960) kept a menagerie of animals such as peacocks, horses, dogs and cats. Her family and grandchildren grew up there. Her large mansion and extensive gardens were part of the social scene in the evolving community with its massive welcoming rooms. The vast land acreage stretched west to the Connecticut River and she kept a horse track before the Interstate known as I-91 bisected the Meadows.

The mansion stayed in the family for several decades until the late 1980s. During the last few decades the home was not cared for and started a ruinous decline. Now the mansion has been divided into over five businesses and is restored to its former glory.

When I arrived on site in early August, the place was full of activity. Two workers were refinishing hardwood inlaid flooring in a space to become the business of an event planner. Details such as leaded glass and fireplaces remain from the original architectural designs and all plumbing and electricity have been updated. The high ceiling front hall French wallpaper, from Paris, was in process of being restored and patched. A new elevator has been installed, but we took the refinished stairs up to the top floor to check out 743Workspace, a shared office space that covers the whole floor from front to back. It is a bright clean space that used to be the billiard room and bedrooms.

Jason Pananos, owner of 734’s third-floor business, showed us around and explained how he rented the private office spaces via word of mouth already, before it was even finished. A large conference room and kitchenette have also been installed. It is a marvelous idea and perfect for those that find it difficult to work from home but need local space. Common workspace memberships are still available. For more information, please contact Jason and check his website, www.734workspace.com.

I have great news!

You may have heard about this already, but you have an upcoming opportunity to see the inside of the Young Mansion. It is a gem and well worth the opportunity to see the place and support a good cause. Proceeds from the sale of tour tickets will go to The Friends of Storrs Library. The date is Saturday, Oct. 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to see the Young Mansion and several other homes in town. Tickets can be reserved at Storrs Library for $25 per person. After Oct. 2 if tickets are still available, the cost will be $30. A total of seven houses will be on the tour. Please remember to put this on your calendars! Contact foslhousetour@gmail.com for answers to your questions. Further details can be found at the Storrs Library website, www.friendsofstorrslibrary.org.

Reserve your tickets now, and then pick them up at the library starting on Oct. 2.

Stop by and become a Friend of the Storrs Library. I have visited countless times during the past 20 years, and can honestly say it is one of my favorite locations in town.

Our children always did the summer reading programs, and we took books home almost every week!

This fantastic local resource is a special place. If you want to find out more about the history of our town, please ask to do research on the second floor in the History Room. It’s not a secret, but well worth exploring.

While you are at it, check out the new exhibit next-door at the Storrs House, home of the Longmeadow Historical Society.