The BENJAMIN F. PACKARD Cabin
The ship’s cabin exhibit of the Benjamin F. Packard has been relocated to the Museum’s Stillman Building as part of the configuration of the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle. The exhibit, which was formerly located in a building adjacent to the North Boat Shed, is now displayed in the renovated second floor of the building.
The new space is larger than the old building and offers the opportunity to expand the exhibit to provide additional context about the American merchant trade that the Benjamin F. Packard represents.
About the Benjamin F. Packard
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 19th 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 20-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, WA (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 the Packard was scuttled, some of the aftercabin paneling and interior furnishings were removed and brought to Mystic Seaport, 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.