A Piece Of History

LAKEWOOD – The Packard legacy lives on.

Individuals from all over the country traveled from Warren, Ohio, to take part in a historic tour of the Packard sites throughout the Lakewood area on Wednesday as a part of the 49th Packard Automobile Club National Meet, in conjunction with the 25th Annual Packard Legacy Weekend.

Nearly 90 participants flocked to the Lakewood Fire Department’s Model T Ford chemical fire truck, which was donated to the department in 1915 by James Packard.

The group walked through the Lakewood Historic Museum before being led by volunteers from the museum for the tours.

According to Peter Tacy and Howard Schaevitz, event participants, those in attendance were focused on the products and history of the Packard Motor Car Company.

“We all have a common interest in the Packard automobile,” Schaevitz said, noting it was his first time participating in the event.

Another attendee said he had been driving Packard automobiles for more than 60 years and was interested in learning more about the family.

Susan Lane, Lakewood historian, said that a Packard tour occurs every four or five years.

“The (visitors) want more knowledge of the Packards,” Lane said. “This year, they will tour the (Packard Estate) mansion – including inside the mansion – and two homes that were the family’s original cottages.”

According to Lane, the two cottages were moved to their current locations in 1905 so the mansion could be built on the existing land. The homes were moved with all of the family’s belongings still inside.

The tour also included a cottage near the Hewes Center Erie 2 BOCES campus and lunch at the Hotel Lenhart in Bemus Point, after which group members had the opportunity to ride the Stow Ferry across the lake.

In previous years, the group toured a mansion in Chautauqua Institution built in 1917 by William Doud Packard, but this year time constraints were a limiting factor, according to Lane.

The Packard history in the area dates back to 1874, when brothers Warren and John Packard first came to Lakewood as summer visitors. They bought the large Lakeview House, the earliest resort hotel, and 25 surrounding acres on which they built a number of lakeside cottages. Eventually, J. Ward Packard, Warren Packard’s younger son, built a mansion adjoining the Lakewood Park area and made Lakewood his permanent home.

The Packard Club was founded in 1953 for the purpose of bringing together individuals interested in the maintenance, preservation, restoration and use of Packard automobiles. The club organizes a variety of meets and events each year and represents more than 5,000 members.

The Lakewood Historic Museum will be open on Saturdays from 1-3 p.m. until Aug. 30.

Private, guided Packard tours are available by calling the village hall at 763-8557.