‘Christmas in the Mansion’ returns to Lauralton

Diane Siroky, Carla Fabrizio, Kathleen Donahue, co-chairs Maria Bravo and LeighAnne Paine Weber, and Bridget Keary provided event support.

Diane Siroky, Carla Fabrizio, Kathleen Donahue, co-chairs Maria Bravo and LeighAnne Paine Weber, and Bridget Keary provided event support.

Lauralton Hall welcomed the community to their newly revitalized, popular Christmas in the Mansion event, which began 29 years ago, after a 10-year pause. “All that glitters” was this year’s theme, as more than 1,400 visitors shopped 61 vendors’ wares in the beautifully decorated Victorian Gothic Mansion (circa 1864) and halls, visited the crèche in the century old chapel in Mercy Hall, enjoy baked goods, participated in raffles, met guest authors Amanda Rose and Damien Connolly, and reveled in merriment with very special guest — Santa Claus himself. Proceeds from this ‘Showcase of the Season’ will benefit the Lauralton Hall Annual Fund and will be used to support students in the 2018-2019 academic year.

“Although it’s the 29th year of Christmas in the Mansion, it’s the first year after a decade long hiatus,” said Elizabeth Miller, president and head of school at Lauralton, 200 High Street. “We are so pleased. Christmas in the Mansion was a distinctively Lauralton tradition run by parent volunteers and alumni for years. After a decade-long hiatus, last year we held a Sunday (prelude) event called, ‘It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas’ and this is our first true Christmas in the Mansion number 29.”

“I think that Lauralton lives at this beautiful intersection of tradition and innovation and this is an event that is distinctively Lauralton and so you don’t let go of something that’s a part of your identity. The community missed it and alumni were sad, they want to come home and see each other,” Miller said.

“In the Chapel which is 100 years old we have the beautiful historic crèche and the class of 1952 was all up there together. Last night at the preview party we had 20 women who came from the Class of 1998, it’s really about friendship and taking time out to do something with people that are meaningful to you it’s really the essence of Christmas in the Mansion,” said Miller.

“This is a beloved tradition at Lauralton Hall, it really bring the community together,” said Diane Siroky, director of marketing and communications. “We have alumni, current and past parents, staff retirees, all who get involved in the committee and have been planning this event before school started. We are thrilled to be hosting this again for the community.”

“Last night was our preview party, we were delighted to be sold out,” added Miller. “Trustees, current and past parents, retired teachers — it was lovely and really kicked off the advent season that starts today. Today we have had a steady stream of 60-plus vendors, everything from published poets and history authors to artisans and jewelry sellers, a little bit of everything.”

“The parking lots are all filled today, but regardless of the numbers, the fact that it’s a chance for our community to come home and see each other is what it’s all about,” said Miller. “I can’t tell you of how many great conversations we’ve overheard, grandmothers explaining to their granddaughters what it was like when they were here, young married alumni showing their husbands, this is where my locker was or this is where I met my best friend, it’s beautiful.”

Current students too were enthused of the event’s revival. “Christmas in the Mansion is something I look forward to each year,” said sophomore Skylar Wingate. “It’s a great way to get the whole community festive and in the Christmas spirit. We are really happy to have the event come back to Lauralton because it provides necessary finds for students and teachers. It’s so nice to know the event is not only fun but beneficial for the school and students.”

“A lot of people don’t know we are a historic property listed on the State and National Registry of Historic Places so we really enjoy opening the mansion to the whole community,” said Siroky. “The original mansion was built in 1846 and the Sisters of Mercy purchased the property in 1905 and opened the school. We are still continuing in that same mercy tradition as a Catholic independent college prep school for girls.

As stated on their website, Lauralton Hall is a Catholic college-preparatory school that empowers a young woman to excel in any endeavor, to find her own voice and to be a bearer of mercy to those in need.

Participating vendors were enthusiastic of the event’s reinvention. “We decided to be at Lauralton today because it’s a great holiday community event, it’s great to support this amazing community,” said Tori Brown, co-founder of The Two Oh Three. “We sell all Connecticut-themed apparel to give people a cool way to represent Coccecticut and their home state.”

Vendor Lynda Kilgore, owner of Miss Dallas Shop said, “We are honored to be a part of this event, it’s a great opportunity to represent our store. We just love the whole experience of being here. If I was young again, I’d come to school here! We have consignments, a venue for local artisans and new items. We are known as Milford’s little secret and promise you that if you enter as a stranger, you’ll leave as our friend.”

“People think of it as a fundraiser for the school and yes,” said Miller. “We’re grateful it raises funds for scholarships, financial aid and professional development for employees, but really above all, it’s a community engagement event.” Total proceeds were more than double of last year’s prelude.