Facelift for Crane House planned

Crane Historical Society treasurer Jo Prophet (left) and secretary Mary Mills (right) stand in front of a replica of the Georgie Oakes steamboat in the Harrison Museum. The two were responsible for applying for a grant that was recently awarded to the museum for exterior repairs.

The Crane House Museum in Harrison will get a facelift come summer 2020.

The improvements to the exterior of the building will be possible thanks to a $6,500 grant that was awarded by the Idaho Heritage Trust (IHT.)

The IHT awards grants for the preservation of state historical sites. The trust focuses on Idaho’s smaller rural communities. IHT has shown support for the Crane Historical Society with other grants over the past 20 years.

The IHT has awarded over $3 million in grants throughout the state.

Crane Historical Society secretary, Mary Mills, and treasurer Jo Prophet wrote the grant with hopes that the renovations will help further preserve the museum. The house was originally built in 1891 by the Crane Family who had officially established the city of Harrison.

“The museum was the first house in Harrison,” Mrs. Mills said. “It's been through a lot and it was critical that we preserve the building. It just needed it.”

The house has seen a lot of change to the city of Harrison over the years, from the city going from being the largest town on Lake Coeur d'Alene to becoming a quiet lake community. The house even survived a fire in 1917 that devastated a large amount of the businesses in Harrison at the time.

“The fire had destroyed a lot of buildings, it's one of the reasons we have a city park in Harrison is because a lot of the businesses that were on that lot burned down,” Mrs. Mills said. “Luckily the Crane House made it out unharmed.”

She said that the house needs exterior work and the affected areas are around the roof and window sill where rot has been detected. She said that the funds will be used to repair those areas and give the house a fresh coat of paint.

Mrs. Mills said that despite the house needing renovations, the museum still sees a large number of people pass through its doors in the summer. She said that the museum hadn't got to a point where the needed repairs affected whether it would be open or not.

Mrs. Mills said that the museum is one of the main tourist attractions in town and the repairs will hopefully attract even more tourists.

“We do pretty good for a museum in a small town,” Mrs. Mills said. “We get a lot of people who come to Harrison via car, boat, or motorcycle, and when they stop in they are looking for things to do.”

The museum has a lot of things for tourists and locals to discover.

Visitors can find a plethora of local vintage pictures, books, records and more at the Crane House Museum. The museum also houses a 300-hour audio library containing old interviews conducted by Bert Russell who was an editor for the Harrison newspaper, the Searchlight. The interviews show a snapshot into the early days of life in Harrison strait from the voices of its' residents.

Mrs. Mills said that she has been working with the Crane Historical Society for over 10 years and that her family has a history in the Harrison area. She said that preserving the historic building and it's contents is very important to her.

“My grandmother would be proud,” Mrs. Mills said. “I haven't left since I got involved. The museum is something that I'm very passionate about.”

The Crane House Museum is ran solely by a staff of dedicated volunteers. The museum is funded by donations, grants, memberships and sales.

The museum is open from Memorial Day through September.

For more information visit the museum's website at cranehistoricalsociety.org.

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