Riverview, New Brunswick
September 29, 2003
The house is now operated by the Jim Thorpe Lions Club and the visit is by tour. It is a wonderful time-capsule and the interiors are not so much large as they are livable. What strikes the visitor in every room is the woodwork. Packer didn’t spend that much on the house originally… probably around $14,000, typical for a large house of the time. At the time of his 50th wedding anniversary, he redecorated, adding ornate woodwork throughout the house and stained glass in the stair landings, spending $75000. It was worth it.
Entry is through the office where Packer managed his empire with his male secretary. Although it is an office, it features a magnificent chandelier. Next to the office is the parlour, which features draperies that were Packer’s 50th wedding anniversary present to his wife. Along with the fine woodwork in all the rooms, in the parlour, and the adjoining hallway, one is aware that the walls are stenciled with a technique that involves throwing sand or gravel at the walls--interesting. The tour of the main level goes to the dining and kitchen areas of the house and up the servant’s stairs to the bedrooms. This is one house that the visitor sees, with the exception of the ground floor, in its entirety.
When the Packers died, the house ended up in the hands of their daughter, Mary Packer Cummins. After an unfortunate marriage, she returned. Much of what the visitor sees has her impression on it. When she died in 1912, the house stood vacant for 40 years. . .it is a miracle that it survived. In many cities it would have been terribly vandalized. In Jim Thorpe, however, it survived with its glass, furniture, and decorations intact until it was finally open to the public in 1956. The carpets are a little threadbare, but it makes for a wonderful visit.
From journal Travelling in Eastern Pennsylvania