Kemmerer Carriage House's resident docent
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Martha Sullivan is the new resident docent at the Kemmerer Carriage House in Kemmerer Park. Construction is continuing on the museum side of the Kemmerer Carriage House with hopes to open the space for weekends by Memorial Day.
In the latest stage of the preservation effort that transformed the Kemmerer Carriage House from a structure just days from the wrecking ball, to a restoration of the 1878 structure, and soon to become a gateway pocket museum to the historic section of Jim Thorpe, the property is now being partially supported by, and looked over by a resident docent.
Led by the preservation efforts of John Drury of the Mauch Chunk Museum, the former Kemmerer Carriage House was restored externally while being internally redesigned into two repurposed areas. One area will be a museum and welcome area to tell the story of the original nine families who lived on Packer Hill from the early 1800s to the early 1900s. The second area is a residence, designed to help offset the cost of operating the museum and to provide for a resident docent.
Martha Sullivan recently moved into the resident docent accommodations at the Carriage House in Kemmerer Park. "I'm by nature a green thumb," she explained. "I like to dig in the dirt. I just ordered seeds, and if I get the Kemmerer Park Association to agree, I've got plans to put up a garden."
Sullivan is a native of Marin and Sonoma counties, which are just north of San Francisco. She graduated from the University of San Jose with teaching credentials in 1967 and went on to work for 22 years as a speech and language pathologist in the public schools.
She changed careers to manage a horse breeding farm in Paso Robles, California, and then opened her own business, Lockwood Farm in Lockwood Calif., to breed horses which she operated for 18 years.
Her farm had up to 12 breeding stallions and serviced about 50 mares per year through the breeding program on the farm. In addition, Lockwood Farm air-shipped horse semen to breeders all over the world.
As part of the breeding program, Sullivan collected the samples from the studs, checked when the females were receptive, and artificially inseminated them.
When her parents became ill, Sullivan took a break from her horse breeding business and returned to Marin County. She also retired from her day job as a grant writer for a 350-meal-a-day soup kitchen for the homeless.
In 2011, her son and daughter-in-law suggested that she move from California to New York City. "I didn't want to live in New York City," Sullivan said. "Then, they suggested the Pocono Mountains. I went online and looked for a four-season town in the Poconos and I found Jim Thorpe."
"I found that the town had been nominated for a number of awards for tourist draw," she said. Sullivan contacted the Three Towers apartments in Jim Thorpe, and based on the photographs taken by owner Tom Loughery, she rented an apartment, and in September 2011, moved insight unseen.
Sullivan was happy with the town of Jim Thorpe but had never before lived in an apartment house, especially an apartment on the third floora far cry from her 20-acre horse farm.
She liked the outdoors, and on a walk with her son, they passed the Kemmerer Carriage House, which was then undergoing a major restoration. "He jokingly suggested that that's where I should live."
Sullivan had joined the Friends of the Dimmick Memorial Library and was friends with its librarian, Susan Sterling. Through that connection, she recognized Susan's husband, Jack Sterling at the site. When she saw him several days later, she asked him about the project and learned that it was slated to become a museum and an apartment.
She jumped at the chance, and after making inquiries and finding that the Association had not begun to look for a tenant for the property, lacking at application to submit, Sullivan submitted a resume. After the property was completed and advertised, the Association and Sullivan came to an agreement.
Sullivan is now at home in her apartment at the former Kemmerer Carriage House. She particularly likes the fact that her living room is where the horse stalls were located. In their stalls, the horses could look out over the parkwhich she can now do. It makes it feel at home to be living where the horses, that she once loved so much, once lived.
Construction is continuing on the museum side of the Kemmerer Carriage House with hopes to open the space for weekends by Memorial Day.