Left to right, Ken Beckman, Aaron Beckman, Grant Beckman, Howard Elliot Neely and Jane Neely Beckman. Howard was the then-93-year-old grandson of Aaron Neely, Sr., who built the house. COURTESY, Karen Meador, Neely Mansion Association.

Left to right, Ken Beckman, Aaron Beckman, Grant Beckman, Howard Elliot Neely and Jane Neely Beckman. Howard was the then-93-year-old grandson of Aaron Neely, Sr., who built the house. COURTESY, Karen Meador, Neely Mansion Association.

Neely Mansion celebrates its 125th anniversary

Community throws a party for the nationally-recognized historical home on Saturday

It’s no small feat to reach your 125th birthday, and Auburn’s Neely Mansion is getting ready to celebrate.

The community celebrates the mansion’s milestone on Saturday, June 22. It is a free event and open to the public.

For those not in the know, Neely Mansion, which is just outside city limits on Auburn-Black Diamond Road, was the home and farm of several families dating back to some of the first pioneers to come to the area.

By the 1970s, the well-lived-in home was in a state of massive disrepair, and its caretakers were unable to undertake the task of restoration.

That’s when the Neely Mansion Association stepped in, merging with the Auburn Arts Council in 1985 to take ownership of the building and start the years-long process of restoring the mansion to its former glory.

“It was a real wreck back in those days,” said Neely Mansion Association Treasurer Linda Van Nest, who was part of the organization when it was officially formed in 1983. “It took us about 15 years to restore it, and now we’re doing other things and sharing it with the public.”

It’s not just the house, the historical Japanese bathhouse, or the Acosta Tool Shed the Neely Mansion Association wants to showcase, but also the stories of the families that lived there after the mansion was built in 1894.

“Most everyone in the United States today had someone in their family that was an immigrant, and that was probably a farmer,” Van Nest said. “Our birthday party is to celebrate everybody. It celebrates not only those particular people, but all of us who have immigrants in our families who came over and were able to make (their) way in the United States.”

Saturday’s ceremonies honoring the five diverse families who lived at the National Historic Site from the Victorian Era through the 1980s begin at 11 a.m. The Cascade Foothills Chorale will perform period music, along with performances by the Washington State Square and Folk Dance Federation.

Refreshments and tours of the mansion, gardens, vintage farm equipment and 1930s Japanese bathhouse follow the ceremonies until 4 p.m.

For more information, visit neelymansion.org.

The family of Aaron, Sr. and Sarah Neely pose in front of their new Green River Valley home, east of Auburn, mid-1890s. The young boy, third from left, appears to be Aaron Neely, Jr., father of Howard Elliot Neely (see 2010 photo); Sarah Graham Neely, wife of Aaron, Sr., is on the far right. COURTESY, Neely Mansion Association.

The family of Aaron, Sr. and Sarah Neely pose in front of their new Green River Valley home, east of Auburn, mid-1890s. The young boy, third from left, appears to be Aaron Neely, Jr., father of Howard Elliot Neely (see 2010 photo); Sarah Graham Neely, wife of Aaron, Sr., is on the far right. COURTESY, Neely Mansion Association.

The family of Aaron, Sr. and Sarah Neely pose in front of their new Green River Valley home, east of Auburn, mid-1890s. The young boy, third from left, appears to be Aaron Neely, Jr., father of Howard Elliot Neely (see 2010 photo); Sarah Graham Neely, wife of Aaron, Sr., is on the far right. COURTESY, Neely Mansion Association.

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ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter
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