CROWN POINT — The Old Homestead Preservation Society is chipping away at repairs to one of Lake County's oldest surviving homes.
This year, the Society began repainting the 173-year-old home at 227 S. Court St. near Crown Point’s historic downtown square — a $20,000 project the nonprofit began raising funds for more than a year ago.
The initiative began in June 2019 with $1,000, and a call for help to tend to the home.
Since, the Society raised nearly $10,000 to complete the repairs, and received up to $10,000 from the Crown Point Redevelopment Commission to see the work through.
"I think the Redevelopment (Commission), the reason they were OK in doing this, is that it's another tourism draw as well. Old home history, anything like that, is an anchor to your downtown," said Kara Graper, secretary of the Old Homestead Preservation Society.
The Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved the donation to the Old Homestead Preservation Society in September.
"It's a treasure, and it is the future generations,'" Carol Drasga, a member of the Commission and treasurer of the Society, said during the meeting. "I think we're very fortunate in Crown Point to have such a historical building, and I so appreciate the support of, of course, Public Works and the RDC."
Graper said the board has been planning to paint the Old Homestead for three years, and although work has begun, three other sides of the house still need to be scraped and painted, among other repairs.
The home will have to be painted every three to four years, and will cost about $5,000 to keep up, Graper said.
The Old Homestead, also known as the Wellington A. Clark house, was built in 1847 by Wellington A. Clark, who hailed from Naples, New York. Today, the home is on the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures and the National Register of Historic Places.
Everything in the home is from the pioneer time period from the 1850s through the 1870s, Graper said.
"There's less and less and less numbers of these houses," Graper said. "We always say this used to be an old Indian burial ground, and then it's kind of like a family folklore, folk tale. We actually have something here that does have the walls made out of horsehide and horse hair."
Typically, the Society hosts tours for local elementary school students, however, the coronavirus pandemic has halted visits to the historic house, for now, Graper said.
"Last year, we did several tours," Graper said, noting students typically visit in May. "They sit on the floor in the front area, and we tell them about the home and its history. It's important for them to connect that — so they will be the next people to preserve the home. And that's been happening for about 10 years."
Though closed during the pandemic, Graper said the board is using the time to digitize the Old Homestead's archives and update tags on everything in the home from a chamber pot to a hair comb.
Once able to reopen, the Society is hoping to have the Old Homestead open on a regular basis instead of by appointment only, Graper said.
"We'd also need more volunteers, like docents, because everything is so (much) older in there ... the volunteers, we kind of need them to watch to make sure people aren't picking up things and touching things," Graper said.
Graper said the society is working to find ways to involve more volunteers in the future. To learn more about the Old Homestead, donate or sign up for a membership, visit oldhomesteadcp.com.
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