67 North Fourth St.
Arthur Clair Landis ran the Swift & Company’s operations in Cuba from 1900 to 1919. Within two months of the armistice for the World War I he was on a ship to Europe to re-open Swift operations in Germany. In 1920, with Germany’s economy in shambles, he purchased a sumptuous mansion at Harvestehuder Weg 22 in Hamburg, along with its furnishings, artwork, china and a Bechstein grand piano, from a bankrupt banker. Clair, his wife Bertha, and their five children lived happily in Hamburg, traveled extensively through Europe, and struck up a warm relationship with the widow of Richard Wagner. In 1933, when the Nazis came to power, Clair retired, the household goods were put in storage, and the family returned to Central PA. In 1938 they purchased and remodeled the house at 67 North Fourth St. in Newport. Also in 1938, Bertha and her youngest daughter, Mary Marguerite, a recent Smith College graduate, returned to Germany to pack up some of the furnishings that had been in storage for five years. During their trip, an air raid drill convinced Bertha that a new war was on the horizon, so they packed up all the contents in the warehouse and shipped them from Hamburg to Baltimore. They were then transported by train to Newport in four railroad cars and unloaded at the freight depot, which is now the Weis Market parking lot. There are Newport residents still living who remember the circus-like atmosphere of that day.
Clair died in 1942. Bertha died in 1970. Mary inherited the house and lived there for over three decades. She became a community leader and was influential in many organizations, including the Newport Library, the Civic Club, and the Perry County Council of the Arts. Mary bequeathed Landis House and all of its contents to the Perry County Council of the Arts in memory of her parents, with the desire that it be used as PCCA offices and a venue for exhibitions and recitals. Many of the most noteworthy artifacts, including much Wagner memorabilia, opera props, and statuary, became the core of the Landis Collection of art and artifacts and are frequently on display. The mansion has been extensively remodeled and now includes an art classroom, a display gallery, music room, art resource center, staff offices, a suite to house the Landis Collection, and a bedroom for resident artists from outside the region. For more information about Landis House and the Perry County Council of the Arts, visit www.perrycountyarts.org or call 717.567.7023.