The Friends of the Mark Twain House will rededicate a garden in memory of Fran Gordon, the irrepressible founder of The Friends, on Saturday, June 16, at 3:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public.
Fran was a tireless promoter of Hartford and, especially, The Mark Twain House. Starting in 1967, she organized fundraisers, programs, and recruited new members to the Friends group, which still thrives.
She and other members scrubbed the floors, washed the linens, and attracted 2,000 visitors for a New Year’s open house in 1972. She helped decorate the house for Christmas parties and the Friends’ famed Holiday House tour, became a board member, and collected labels from sugar boxes to buy sterling silver teaspoons.
For the house’s 100th anniversary in 1974, she recruited actor Hal Holbrook to portray Twain, and actress Celeste Holm, who played Aunt Polly in a 1973 film version of Tom Sawyer, to be the stars of a benefit fashion show.
Her motto was, “If it’s not fun, I’m not going to do it. So make it fun.”
In 2009, a garden in her honor was established on the raised rooftop next to the patio.
The new garden, near The Carriage House, was created by Connecticut Master Gardeners under the direction of Laura Barnett Goldberg, and includes a meandering pathway to encourage visitors to enjoy perennials. Look for tree peony, blueberry and rose bushes, heirloom day lilies, sedum, butterfly weed, Black Eyed Susan, cone flowers, iris, bee balm, veronica helianthus, and phlox.
Fran died in 2014. Her daughter, Kappy Scoppettone of Lebanon, NH, plans to attend the rededication.