History of the Packard Manse
As a professor of surgery and medicine at Boston University, Dr. Horace Packard received honors from the Japanese government for sponsoring students from Japan.
The Manse was built in 1916, during World War 1, with eastern influenced architecture and lumber imported from Japan.
Josephine Crawford pioneered attendance at ivy league colleges by American women of African heritage. A wise financier, she also saved Dr. Packard's fortune during the Great Depression and continued on to run an orphanage at the Manse.
In the 1950s, Protestant clergymen redefined the Manse as the "Christian Fellowship", a camp to be used as conferences of renewal for Protestant churches. Soon afterward, they expanded as an ecumenical center, with the goal of uniting the entire community of faith.
Members of Taiz, whose recovery of monasticism for Protestants was influenced by Catholic Benedictine and Cistercian spirituality, stepped forward to remove divisions among Christians. The stained glass window portraying the circle of Christ with his disciples, was gifted by these monks and marks the sun porch as their place of prayer. The Manse became the first ecumenical center in the United Sates operated in a partnership by both Protestants and Catholics, and soon sustained a Christian-Jewish dialogue.
In the 1960s and 70s, the community at the Manse coordinated civil rights and peace movements in the Boston area, and in the social spirit of the time, became a collective movement.
During the 1980s and 90s, the community at the Manse focused its efforts and resources to serve the plight of women and others marginalized by our society's systematic injustices.
Throughout this time, this retreat center has continued to offer hospitality to various groups as diverse as youth from inner city parishes, families, the elderly, people in recovery, health care providers, HIV patients and their families, immigrants, colleges/universities, food activists, environmentalists, spiritual groups, and many others.
The Manse is also honored to host the vibrant energy of the drumming community, and the Nature focus of Spirit in Nature (SPIN), whose pathway guests now explore through the pine forest.