Experience the beauty and charm of one of Pennsylvania’s finest communities as the Muncy Historical Society hosts its annual Historic Homes and Walking Tour from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, October 20. The $12 tour donation includes admission to showcase properties, a descriptive brochure, special exhibits, shopping opportunities, interaction with living history performers, trolley rides and refreshments.
Society Executive Director William Poulton invites everyone to experience the nostalgia of Muncy when the society offers its guests a different happening annually, and on October 20, guests will experience a combination of unique properties, special one-day only exhibits, and personal engagements. Poulton is particularly excited to announce that a replica of the custom coffin in which President Lincoln is buried will be on display and Mary Todd Lincoln will be available to comment on her first lady experiences and to answer questions.
One stop, and the event ticket center, for the Homes and Walking Tour is the Muncy Historical Society, housed in one of Muncy’s earliest frame homes. The two and one-half story, seven-bay frame building represents the Greek revival style. Muncy’s artistic heritage is readily apparent at this stop where the creative geniuses of more than 50 local past and contemporary artists’ works are on display. The museum’s collection includes a wide range of original art and exemplary craftsmanship, including photography, oil paintings, jewelry, pottery, woodworking, quilting, mosaics, watercolor, sculpture, and home décor. The Civil War theme continues with this year’s special exhibits at the 40 N. Main Street location. In the Society’s meeting room, the movie “Lincoln” will be aired and a collection of mourning attire will be on display.
The properties are always interesting since the Society features homes representing a variety of architectural styles, from Colonial to Federal to Victorian eclectic. The St. James Episcopal Church, a masterpiece of Gothic Revival style, will be this year’s featured church; parishers will be grilling hot dogs in the garden area and Mary Todd Lincoln will be discussing her life experiences from the sanctuary at 4:15 p.m. The trolley will be making its way up and down Muncy’s main street during the event hours and the on-board guide will regale passengers with pertinent facts about Muncy’s artistic and historical heritage. There will be a number of stops, clearly marked, so that passengers can embark and disembark conveniently near all of the tour locations.
Ticket holders may park in one of the centrally located designated areas and most of the Muncy properties are within easy walking distance.
Advance tickets, at the discounted price of $10 for the Historic Homes and Walking Tour, may be purchased from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., October 11, 14 and 18, or by mail at P.O. Box 11, Muncy, PA 17756. Tickets the day of the tour are $12 and may be purchased at the Muncy Historical Society.
More information is available by calling the Muncy Historical Society at 546-5917. On the Internet at http://www.MuncyHistoricalSociety.org.
Abraham Lincoln’s Replica Coffin
Replica of custom coffin used to show President Lincoln brings history to Muncy
A replica of the coffin in which president Abraham Lincoln is buried will be on display in Muncy during its annual Homes Tour on October 20, noon to 4 p.m.
It is one of five replicas made 10 years ago by the Batesville Casket Company of Indiana. The coffin was built on the only known surviving 1865 photograph of the one in which President Lincoln is shown lying in state.
Four of the five coffin replicas travel the nation for display at funeral homes and the fifth remains as part of the permanent collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
President Lincoln’s coffin was the most elaborate of that time. His coffin was constructed of solid walnut, lined with lead and completely covered in expensive black cloth. It was 6 feet, 6 inches long and was decorated with sterling silver handles and sterling silver studs extending the entire length of its sides. Though the coffin appears austere compared to modern caskets, the original was custom made for the president and featured a removable two-part top and a lead lining. The replica does not contain lead. The distinction between a coffin and a casket is that a coffin has six sides (diamond shaped) and a casket has four sides.
It is estimated that one million people viewed President Lincoln’s body from the time of his death until his burial in Springfield, Illinois. His coffin was the most elaborate of that time. President Lincoln also had the distinction of having the largest funeral throughout the world, until President John F. Kennedy’s death in 1963.
It could be said that Abraham Lincoln’s death triggered the beginning of modern day funeral service. President Lincoln was the first public figure to be embalmed and put on view for almost three weeks. The embalming technique used on President Lincoln was primarily used on soldiers who died during the Civil War and needed to be transported home for burial. Being able to view the body for extended periods of time without being iced was the precursor for modern day funeral service. People at that time thought embalming was a barbaric violation of the body, but Lincoln’s funeral had changed that perception. President Lincoln’s public viewing introduced the population to the benefits of embalming. Mourners were able to see the late president for twenty days and embalming made it possible.
The coffin played prominently in a plot by thieves to steal the president’s body. In 1876, when a counterfeiting ring’s top engraver was imprisoned, his gang decided to break into the tomb and steal the body. They planned to hold Lincoln for a ransom of $200,000 in gold and the freedom of the engraver. As the coffin was being removed from the tomb, the plot was foiled when lawmen made their move.
In 1900, President Lincoln’s son, Robert, was afraid that more attempts to steal the President’s body would be made. He decided that the new burial chamber was inadequate and plans were made to permanently protect the President from any future attempts to enter the grave. It was during this time of construction that the coffin of President Lincoln was opened. A select few had the opportunity to view the body of President Lincoln one last time. The reasoning for this was to ensure that previous attempts to steal the body of the President were not successful. It was determined that the body in the coffin was indeed that of the President. His appearance had not changed much since that of his original burial in 1865.
On September 26, 1901, President Lincoln was then permanently buried. The coffin was placed in a cage 10 feet deep and encased in 4,000 pounds of concrete. At last, President Lincoln was at rest.
The replica of Lincoln’s coffin will be just one of the stops as part of the Muncy Historic Homes Tour event on October 20, from noon to 4 p.m.
Pat Jordan Returns to Muncy as Mary Todd Lincoln
The Muncy Historical launched its Civil War commemorative activities in 2011by enlisting the help of Pat Jordan who presented two one-woman plays – one on the life of Clara Barton and the other on the life of Louisa May Alcott. Alcott was an avid women’s rights advocate and the sole support of her family for years while Barton is renowned for establishing the first chapter of the American Red Cross, bringing disaster relief to countless thousands throughout the nation and abroad. Jordan’s interest in history has led her to portray Martha Washington, Betsy Ross, and Amelia Earhart among others.
Jordan, a professional singer-actor, published writer and director, has appeared in scores of productions at the Philadelphia Academy of Music and New York’s Cooper’s Union, Walnut Street Studio Stages, the 42nd Street Theatre and the Cluman Theatre in New York. Jordan is in demand as a private teacher of stage performance as well as on-camera acting and musical theater. She also is an Artist-in-Education drama instructor, stage director, and program director of the Chester Theatre Arts Outreach Program, a foundation-sponsored youth initiative celebrating its 10th year. She studied at H-B Studio with Herbert Berghoff and Hal Holden and the Juilliard Opera Workshop. Pat holds a BA (cum laude) in Theatre and Communication Arts from Villanova University as well as advanced study in acting, directing and playwriting.
Earlier this year, she had the opportunity to portray Mary Todd Lincoln at the National Portrait Gallery’s Inaugural Weekend Celebration in Washington, D.C. and in this return trip to Muncy Jordan will “meet and greet” Historic Homes Tour ticketholders from noon to 3:45 p.m. as this same personality. The “meet and greet” opportunity is available to ticketholders only.
After a short break, Jordan will make her way to the St. James Episcopal Church sanctuary, one of the stops featured on this year’s annual historic tour. Beginning at 4:15 p.m. Jordan, as Mary Todd Lincoln, will cover the character’s life from childhood to just before the assassination of President Lincoln. During the questions and answer portion, Jordan will “step out of character” when she will talk about what happened between the president’s death and the arrival in Illinois. This public performance is open to the general public and there will be a $5 admission fee for anyone not displaying a Homes Tour wristband.