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Longtime head of Asa Packer Mansion stepping down

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    The Asa Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe gets a fresh coat of paint by CJ and TJ Home Improvements Monday afternoon.

Published October 12. 2019 05:48AM

The longtime head of the Asa Packer Mansion will step down from his role at the end of the year.

Ronald Sheehan has held a leadership role at the mansion for 33 years. At the end of this year, he will step down as executive director, a job he has held since 1997.

Sheehan came before Jim Thorpe Borough Council on Thursday night to announce the plan for his succession. The borough owns the mansion, but it is operated by the Jim Thorpe Lions Club through its mansion committee.

On Jan. 1, Ava Bretzik, the current director of the museum, will assume the title of museum curator. She will share responsibility for the mansion with the mansion committee and its chairman, Jim Trainer.

Bretzik has actually worked at the museum longer than Sheehan, with more than 40 years of service.

“I have every confidence in her,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan said as of Jan. 1, he will no longer be the face of the mansion, but he will stay on the mansion committee through July 2021.

“There’s a lot of knowledge to be passed on, and we want to make sure that is done properly,” he said.

The mansion was built in 1861 for Asa Packer, the philanthropist and railroad magnate who founded Lehigh University. His daughter, Mary Packer Cummings, gave the home and its contents to the borough as part of her will, so it would remain as a memorial to her father.

Council President Greg Strubinger said he was happy to hear that there will be a smooth transition of leadership at the mansion.

“We’re very happy that it’s being turned over from one set of good hands to another,” he said.

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