Adapted from and compiled by Betty Lou McBride
The town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, is steeped in Irish heritage and history. One of the most prominent connections is with the Molly Maguires, a group of Irish coal miners who fought for better wages and working conditions in the 1800s. Their story is reflected in several historic sites in Jim Thorpe, including where they were arraigned, where coffins for several Molly Maguires were made, and where seven were hanged.
At 46 Broadway, Rainbow's End is the site of the magistrate's office where the Molly Maguires were arraigned. Today, it's an ice cream and candy store, but the historic significance remains. Nearby at 44 Broadway, the Treasure Shop was the original site of Yeager Brothers Woodworking store where coffins for several Molly Maguires were made. From 1900 to 1979, it was the home of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Now, it's an Irish import and gift shop.
The attorney Charles Albright's home at 66 Broadway, known as the former Encore Restaurant or Albright Mansion, was appointed prosecutor in several Molly Maguire trials after the Commonwealth prosecutor was removed from the cases.
The Old Jail Museum at 128 W. Broadway was the site of the hanging of seven Irish coal miners known as Molly Maguires in the 1870s. The museum contains a famous handprint on the wall of a miner proclaiming his innocence before hanging. It's open for tours from May through October and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Carbon County Courthouse at Broadway and Susquehanna St. was designed by L.S. Jacoby and constructed in 1893. The oak-paneled courtroom features an elaborate spindled backdrop and stained-glass skylight, and it was used in the movie "The Molly Maguires" (Paramount 1969).
The Asa Packer Mansion on Packer Hill Rd. is an Italianate mansion of Asa Packer, a local pioneer and founder of the Lehigh Valley Railroad and Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Connected to coal mines through railroad ownership, it's a National Landmark Status and is open for tours seasonally.
Finally, the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on W. Broadway was founded in 1848 to serve the growing Irish Catholic population. The original church was constructed in 1850, and the present church was built in 1906 in Irish Romanesque style with altars of Carrara marble. The stained glass windows were created by Franz Meyer of Munich, Germany, and the church still holds Catholic services.
In addition to these sites, there are many more historic buildings and sites of interest in Jim Thorpe that reflect the town's rich Irish heritage. A tour of these sites is a must for anyone interested in learning more about the connection between Jim Thorpe and Ireland.