The library in the historic Asa Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe has had its worn carpeting replaced with a new "period-style" carpeting which, while not exactly the same, is very close to what was originally installed.
According to Ron Sheehan, Asa Packer Mansion executive director, the carpeting work, which was done by Ethan Allen Carpet and Furniture in Allentown, is part of the $500,000 overall Mansion Project funding which was secured with the help of state Rep. Keith McCall.
The oriental-style carpet, which has a 13-inch border around the edges, replaces the carpet that was installed in 1910, roughly two years before Mary Packer Cummings passed away.
They determined the age because when they lifted the old carpeting, there was a layer of newspaper underneath, and while a lot of it was destroyed just by the wear on the original carpeting, some of the newspaper remained legible enough to help them determine the age of the original carpet.
Sheehan said that with all projects at the mansion, they archive a piece of the original material and also take "before, during, and after" photographs of the project. All of this is archived for future reference.
He said this is the first project to be done with the $500,000 Mansion Project funding. The next projects will be to address heating and ventilation, and re-decking of the porch.
After those two major projects are done, they will look at more interior projects to the home.
Among some of the few remaining objects left in the library during the work were the ornate overhead chandelier and a massive steel safe, which was the original property of Asa Packer.
The chandelier, which was put in by the Packers during the 1878 remodeling of the house in anticipation of their 50th wedding anniversary, was originally gas and came from the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, where it took first place for Interior Home Lighting.
The large safe, which bears the manufacturer's name of Remington & Sherman Co., as well as the name "Cummings," which was Mary Packer's married name, sits in an alcove on a pad of granite which is reinforced from below.
Mary was the last person to live in the house until her death in 1912, so it has remained bearing her name.
The 18-room, 11,000-square-foot mansion was built in 1861 by Asa Packer, an industrialist and philanthropist who served in the U.S. Congress, built the Lehigh Valley Railroad and founded Lehigh University.
The home was donated to the borough in 1912 by Packer's daughter, Mary Packer Cummings, and was closed until 1956, when the Jim Thorpe Lions Club opened the mansion for public tours.
It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1985 and is open to the public for tours seven days a week from Memorial Day through November.
To learn more about the mansion visit www.asapackermansion.com.