A hidden Lewisburg gem: The Packwood House Museum

Lili Kilkenny, Contributing Writer

The Packwood House Museum, located on Market Street, is one of the oldest and most historic buildings in Lewisburg. The founders of the museum were John and Edith Fetherston, the latter of whom obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University. She spent years in New York after her graduation from the University and returned to Lewisburg for her retirement.

The museum has immense collections of ceramics, textiles, glass, furniture, paintings, and Asian art that the Fetherstons have cultivated over several years for display in their home. In their will, the Fetherstons set up a trust for the museum to be enjoyed by the public for years to come as a place of interest and education.

The Fetherstons’ personal collections are displayed throughout the house; this winter, a special gingerbread house exhibit will be featured.

For students, the museum can be a valuable resource and learning opportunity. Students from Associate Professor of Art and Art History and Department Chair Janice Mann’s course “The West Encounters the Rest,” which focuses on American collectors and house museums, were so intrigued by the Packwood House that they received a summer grant to research and catalog the items in the house.

“The students fell in love with the place because it’s intriguing and interesting, sort of like your grandmother’s attic; it’s a mystery that students want to solve,” Mann said.

Nicole Adams ‘18 is currently working on a documentary about the rich history of the Packwood House. Another University student wrote an honors thesis about theatre, dance, and costume design based on the wardrobe of Edith Fetherston.

According to the museum’s website, the building initially served as a tavern and inn before expanding to a three story, 27-room hotel. The Fetherstons moved into the home in 1936, and stayed until John’s death in 1962 and Edith’s death in 1972. Four years later, the museum opened to the public for “the educational benefits of all persons.”

Other opportunities are available to students as well: “We are always looking for student volunteers to help out,” Packwood House administrator Jennifer Snyder said.  Any students who are interested should contact [email protected] or call 570-524-0323.

Students who want to visit the museum can pay a small fee of $10 for a docent led tour of the house’s rich history. There is also a museum shop where visitors can purchase items made by local artisans as well as educational books and DVDs to gain a better understanding of the Lewisburg community.

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