About The Packwood House Museum

Early History

museum_outside.jpgPackwood House Museum is among the oldest log-built structures of its kind in Pennsylvania, originally constructed as a two-story log cabin between 1796 and 1799.

It initially served as a tavern and inn for river travelers along the Susquehanna.

In the early 19th century, with the construction of the Pennsylvania Canal's crosscut at Lewisburg, the tavern evolved into a hotel known as the American House.

The hotel eventually expanded into an impressive three-story 27-room structure in the mid-19th century.

In the 1860's, with the arrival of the Pennsylvania Railroad to the downtown, interest in river travel faded and the hotel soon lost much of its business.

The American House closed in the late 1880s, and the structure was converted into three townhouses.

The Fetherstons

packwood-05-1957.jpgPackwood House Museum founders Edith and John Fetherston lived in the old hotel building from 1936 through the 1960s and '70s. Born in Lewisburg as Edith Kelly in 1885,

Edith obtained both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Bucknell. It was while teaching in Baltimore in 1916-17 that she met and married John Fetherston, a prominent New York civil engineer. They lived in various places on the East Coast before returning to Lewisburg in 1936, purchasing the 27-room building as a retirement home. They decided to name their new home "Packwood" after a Fetherston family ancestral home in England.

john_1930s.jpg edith_1939.jpg
John Fetherston Edith Fetherston

Edith enjoyed history and the arts and was a supporter of many programs at Bucknell. She frequented local estate auctions and amassed a significant collection of local historical artifacts, decorative arts, and furniture. She also traveled widely and collected an eclectic array of Oriental artifacts.

Visitors are thrilled to see Edith's collection, hailed as one of Pennsylvania's hidden gems.

Packwood House Museum

japanesetrees.jpgThe Fetherstons had no children. John died in 1962, Edith died in 1972, and in accordance with their wills, a trust was established and Packwood House Museum opened to the public in 1976 as "a Public Museum for the educational benefits of all persons."

Today, visitors see not only the historic building, but the Fetherstons' treasures of glass, ceramics, textiles, furniture, paintings, Pennsylvania German decorative arts, and Oriental art.

Edith's 1930's Oriental/Pennsylvania woodland garden also boasts the area's only collection of century-old cryptomeria trees, also known as Japanese cedars.

It truly is a world-class museum in a small town.