Bert Lahr Day

Gage Foundation Celebrates Bert Lahr Day


Aug. 13, 2009, Fayetteville, N.Y. “The excitement and support within the community of Fayetteville and Manlius about this very important woman and what she brought to the world, and making her known to the world, is amazing,” exclaimed author and editor Jane Lahr at an Aug. 13  fundraiser for the restoration of the home of Matilda Joslyn Gage. Lahr, author of the Independent Publisher Book Award winner “Searching for Mary Magdalene: A Journey in Art & Literature” (Welcome Books: Random House, 2006) and the daughter of actor Bert Lahr, was the special guest at the wine-and-cheese-tasting event hosted by Limestone Art and Framing Gallery.

“There’s this vibrant supporting group within the community that is something I haven’t really felt in a long time,” Lahr said. “Being in the room with the energy and the passion for Matilda Joslyn Gage was something. This community knows how important she is and wants to get that message into the world. It’s completely necessary and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.”

A highlight of the evening was the signing of the contract for the Phase 2 comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Home with Marc Leonardis of Leo Construction and Development of Skaneateles, who was awarded the contract.


During the event, Lahr talked about an amazing new connection she’s exploring between Oz and Gage, along with sharing a delightful history of her father’s long and varied career in show business. Bert Lahr is best known for his role as the Cowardly Lion in MGM’s “The Wizard of Oz” movie.

Heidi and David Francey, proprietors of Limestone Art and Framing Gallery, hosted the fundraiser, with Dana Decker, proprietor of Decker’s Wine and Liquors, and Jodi Stahl of Yancey’s Fancy: New York’s Artisan Cheese providing wine and cheese. And as an additional treat, Randy Malone of the Limestone Grille gifted each attendee at the reception with a coupon for 25 percent off dinner and drinks at the restaurant for those attending the fundraiser.

Fayetteville mayor Mark Olson declared August 13, 2009, to be Bert Lahr Day in the village of Fayetteville, and came to the gallery to read his proclamation:


AUGUST 13, 2009

WHEREAS:  L. Frank Baum, the author of the “Wizard of Oz” and 13 other Oz books, was the son-in-law of Fayetteville resident, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and

WHEREAS:  L. Frank Baum was married in the front parlor of the Gage Home at 210 East Genesee and visited it often, and

WHEREAS:  Baum lived in the Gage Home during the summer of 1887 and photographed the house, and

WHEREAS:  The Gage Home is being restored as an historic house museum, with the restoration guided by Baum’s photos, and

WHEREAS:  The Gage Home will be the only home in the United States where Baum lived and spent time that is open to the public, and

WHEREAS: Maud Gage Baum (the daughter of Matilda Joslyn Gage and the wife of L. Frank Baum) said her mother was responsible for the Oz books through her encouragement to Frank that he write them, and

WHEREAS: Matilda Joslyn Gage influenced Baum’s vision in his 14 Oz books of a peaceful, egalitarian, world run by women, and

WHEREAS: The Gage Home Museum will have a room – the front parlor – dedicated to telling the story of “The Mother of Oz” –  Matilda Joslyn Gage’s influence on the world of Oz, and

WHEREAS:  The world of Oz became known to the world through the 1939 MGM movie “The Wizard of Oz,” based on the book written by L. Frank Baum, and

WHEREAS:  Bert Lahr starred in the 1939 MGM movie “The Wizard of Oz,” and

WHEREAS:  August 13 is the anniversary of the birth of Bert Lahr, and

WHEREAS:  The week of August 13 marks the 70th anniversary of the opening of “The Wizard of Oz,” and

WHEREAS:  Jane Lahr, the daughter of Bert Lahr will visit the Gage Home on August 13 to celebrate the approach of the final stages of restoration of the Gage Home and to attend a fundraiser to raise funds for the house restoration

THEREFORE, let it be resolved that I, Mark Olson, mayor of Fayetteville, New York, do hereby declare August 13, 2009, Bert Lahr Day in the village of Fayetteville.

Photos on this page: 1) Fayetteville Mayor Marc Olson and Jane Lahr display the mayor’s proclamation declaring Aug. 13 to be Bert Lahr Day in the Village of Fayetteville. Both at the Limestone Art and Framing Gallery attending a fundraiser for the Gage Home. 2) Also at the gallery, Marc Leonardis of Leo Construction and Development (center) signs the contract for the Phase 2 comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation of the Gage Home. Pictured with him are Gage Foundation Executive Director Sally Roesch Wagner (left) and Al Byrne, co-chair of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Home Restoration Campaign.

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