Cabin of the Benjamin F. Packard

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Benjamin Packard CabinThis complete cabin restoration of the Benjamin F. Packard is contained within its own building on the museum grounds.

The original 244-foot square-rigged sailing ship, more than twice the length of the Charles W. Morgan and last survivor of her type, was built in 1883 at the shipyard of Goss, Sawyer & Packard in Bath, Maine, and named for one of the builders. She was typical of the superbly designed, finely crafted “Down Easters” or “Cape Horners” of the late nineteenth century built to carry cargoes around Cape Horn between America’s Atlantic and Pacific ports. The “Down Easters” replaced the clipper ships as the economic demands called for less speed and more cargo-carrying capacity. During most of her twenty-odd years in the Cape Horn trade she was owned by Arthur Sewall & Co. of Bath, the largest firm of Cape Horn merchants at the time, and worked out of New York (though her official port of-registry was Bath). In 1908 she was purchased by the Northwest Fisheries Company of Seattle and was employed by them (1908-18), and later by the Booth Fisheries Company of Port Townsend (1918-25), as a “salmon packer,” carrying fisheries workers and equipment from Puget Sound up to the Alaskan fish canneries in the spring and returning in the fall with the workers and the fish. After the degradation of one last “voyage” from Puget Sound to New York as a lumber barge in tow through the Panama Canal, she was retired in 1927. Subsequent efforts to preserve her as a museum having failed, she came to rest as an amusement park attraction in Rye, New York, where she was irreparably damaged in the hurricane of 1938. Before she was scuttled, some of the aftercabin paneling and interior furnishings were removed and brought to the Museum, where they were stored until the reconstruction was begun almost 40 years later.

The portion of the aftercabin included is the captain’s stateroom; his day cabin, with its rich goldleafed panels restored, marble and brass fixtures, and plush upholstery; and the officers’ mess cabin. The excellence of the various woods, the fine veneers and graceful carving, and the elaborate decorations testify to the overall magnificence of the ship.

The Packard exhibit is housed in one of the buildings of the textile mill established by the Greenman brothers in the mid-nineteenth century. The entrance is marked by the Packard’s anchor. In the anteroom has been assembled a collection of memorabilia and explanatory materials relevant to the Packard’s history.