The weather smiled on the Friends of Auburn Heights Saturday during their second annual Auburn Heights Invitational Historic Automobile Display.
Throughout the day, visitors to the Yorklyn preserve were treated to the Magic Age of Steam, from rides around the property on a steam-powered locomotive to fresh, steam-popped popcorn. Mansion tours and rides in the steam-powered cars from the museum were also available.
On display from the Marshall Steam Museum was a large black 1937 Packard Model 1508 Sedan. Large in body and in engine (a V-12) this car was built for speed (175 hp) and for touring. It was purchased by Clarence Marshall in 1937 and has resided at Auburn Heights for 76 years.
Also on display was a Stanley Steam Car purchased by Marshall in 1949. Sent out for a full restoration in 2010, the Model 78 Roadster was completed in December 2012 in time to come home to Auburn Heights and celebrate its 100th birthday.
The event raised more than $26,000 for the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve, with much of the proceeds benefiting the Joseph Boxler Educational Fund.
"We are very pleased. We exceeded our goal and then some," said Susan Randolph, executive director of the Friends of Auburn Heights.
The educational fund is used to introduce children to the joy of science, technology and history that all comes together at Auburn Heights Preserve. Run by Director of Education Jesse Gagnon, the programs are a growing way to promote the Auburn Heights Preserve to the younger generation.
Many of the children who take part in the educational programs are already familiar with Auburn Heights from the long-running Steamin' Days, Randolph said. Visiting the mansion or steam museum is more than hearing a story, they see history and technology and science all in one location. Children visit the Marshall Steam Museum with its many historic steam-powered automobiles and trains, and learn about past modes of transportation, while also being exposed to history at the Auburn Heights Mansion, which is still furnished with Victorian décor.
"Children come out and discover the museums and see they're fun and exciting," Randolph said. "They light up, they get that ah-ha moment."
It was that excitement and love of learning that prompted Salesianum School student Joseph Boxler to become the youngest volunteer in the Marshall Steam Museum.
Boxler was an avid car lover who enjoyed his volunteer time in the steam museum until his tragic death at age 16 in a car crash.
Proceeds from food sales, a raffle and silent auction benefited the educational fund named for Boxler and established in 2007.
"Joseph would have loved today," his mother, Dorothy Boxler said. "He loved cars, people and being outdoors, this is a nice tribute to him."
Page 2 of 2 - Like Boxler, many of the younger visitors at the invitational were very curious about the cars on display.
That was just fine with Irenee "Brip" du Pont Jr., who was happy to let some of the younger visitors hop inside his 1918 Cadillac Type 57 7-Passanger Touring car.
Du Pont bought the car while he was a student at Dartmouth College in 1939 and has owned it and enjoyed driving it and showing it for 74 years. While in school, as many as nine of his friends would hop in and ride around with him.
"One of the girls who jumped in has stayed around awhile," he said, referencing his wife of almost 70 years, Barbara, whom he met at Dartmouth. The Cadillac took them to their first apartment on Long Island.
Another husband and wife who share a bond over their classic car were Charlie and Cheyl Eggert, of Morristown, NJ. The Eggerts regularly show their historic 1931 Cadillac V16 Cabriolet and enjoy the interaction with other car enthusiasts.
Earlier this year, their V16 won Best of Show at the Misselwood Concourse d'Elegance at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., and Best of Show at the National Cadillac & LaSalle Club show in Quincy, Mass., the same week.
The classic lines and the scallop shaped fenders of the Art Deco designed V16 drew a lot of admirers during the event.
"I love to drive it," Charles Eggert said. "And I love to look at it. I think it's a piece of artwork."
Inside the Marshall Steam Museum was a special art exhibit of items from The Hagley Museum's Z. Taylor Vinson Transportation Collection, which included travel dusters worn by women at the turn of the last century as they traveled by car or train. The dusters were necessary to keep off soot and dust from the clothing of the time.
Blaire O. Gagnon, assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island, and mother to Auburn Heights' Jesse Gagnon, gave a presentation on how early women's fashion trends were influenced by the automobile.