The mansion of David Munson and Eliza Wright Osborne at 99 South Street was a center of Auburn's business and social worlds. After the death of Munson in 1886, the widow Munson was free to act on her commitments to reform, whereupon the mansion became a hotbed of suffrage activism.
During the thirty-sixth annual convention of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association (NYSWSA), the mansion was the site of a reception on Monday, October 17, 1904, which was almost certainly attended by the nationally prominent suffrage activists Susan B. Anthony and Anna Howard Shaw. Thomas Mott Osborne, one of four children of David and Eliza, was then mayor of Auburn and officially greeted the delegates.
Other sites utilized by the convention included Music Hall, where plenary sessions took place; the Osborne House Hotel, which served as the convention headquarters; and the Osborne Annex, where various business meetings occurred.
The Osborne Family Story. Born in 1822, David Munson Osborne (often known simply as "Munson") was a farmer's son from Rye, New York. He left home at 15, working odd jobs, then trying his hand at various business ventures until he found success manufacturing agricultural equipment. His company, D. M. Osborne and Company (founded 1856) became one of Cayuga County's largest employers and a nationally significant maker of harvesting apparatus.
Eliza Wright (1830-1911) hailed from a family of ex-Quaker reformers. Her mother, Martha Coffin Wright, helped organize the 1848 woman's rights convention at Seneca Falls, served on the Underground Railroad, and was instrumental in persuading famed abolitionist and escaped slave Harriet Tubman to make her home in Auburn. (Martha's older sister was Lucretia Mott, whose role in organizing the Seneca Falls convention has tended to overshadow Martha's.) After marrying "Munson," Eliza muted her reform work out of deference to her husband, whose views were more conventional than hers. Following his death, she threw herself back into suffrage work. At various times she served as vice president of the NYSWSA and as first vice president of the Cayuga County Political Equality Club. (Political Equality Clubs acted as informal local or county-level chapters of the NYSWSA.) In addition, she became one of the most generous donors to the suffrage cause generally and to the work of Susan B. Anthony. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were frequent guests at suffrage meetings held at the mansion.
On October 17, 1904, in her seventies, Eliza Wright Munson hosted a reception here for delegates attending the thirty-sixth annual NYSWSA convention. She died on July 18, 1911, aged 82, and is buried in Auburn's Fort Hill Cemetery.
The mansion was demolished in 1936, with the exception of its library wing, which still survives today on a corner of the lot occupied by Auburn United Methodist Church. 3 Fitch Avenue, the address shown for the site on this page, is the postal address claimed by the Osborne Center for Social Justice, a small nonprofit that hopes to restore the library wing as an office and as a research library addressing regional social-reform issues.