Visitors flock to historic Crabill Homestead

Pat Tipton gives people a tour of the Crabill Homestead Saturday, May 14, 2022 during an open house. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Pat Tipton gives people a tour of the Crabill Homestead Saturday, May 14, 2022 during an open house. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

The site marked homecoming weekend with open houses.

Adorned in American flag bunting hanging from its windows and open doors allowing breezes offering relief from the summer-like weather, a nearly 200-year-old house was one of the area’s historical hotspots this past weekend.

The Crabill Homestead, the oldest home still accessible to the public in Clark County, which overlooks the C.J. Brown Reservoir, welcomed visitors for its homecoming weekend with open houses and marked its return to being managed by the Clark County Historical Society after 10 years.

“It just made sense for us to take it over as the Historical Society had managed and maintained it for several years before,” said Natalie Fritz, curator of library and archives at the Heritage Center of Clark County.

With people eager to get out again with pandemic restrictions decreased, tourists flocked to check out the secluded spot some distance from the park up a hill above the reservoir.

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Flossy Hulsizer and her husband, Bob, make their way up the long drive leading to the Crabill Homestead during an open house Saturday, May 14, 2022. The homestead, at Buck Creek State Park is again under the management of the Clark County Historical Society, the organization that originally led the restoration of the 1820s home. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Flossy Hulsizer and her husband, Bob, make their way up the long drive leading to the Crabill Homestead during an open house Saturday, May 14, 2022. The homestead, at Buck Creek State Park is again under the management of the Clark County Historical Society, the organization that originally led the restoration of the 1820s home. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Combined ShapeCaption
Flossy Hulsizer and her husband, Bob, make their way up the long drive leading to the Crabill Homestead during an open house Saturday, May 14, 2022. The homestead, at Buck Creek State Park is again under the management of the Clark County Historical Society, the organization that originally led the restoration of the 1820s home. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

They were greeted by longtime volunteers including Pat Tipton and Becky Bostick in their period costumes, and Roger Sherrock, executive director of the Heritage Center. The tour focused on the David and Barbara Crabill family and the 12 children they raised on the homestead beginning in 1826.

Tipton said one of the most frequent visitor comment is it must have been a great to wake up to a view of the reservoir. Visitors also learned that when the Crabills settled, the area was then plains and farmland. The reservoir and spillway were created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns it. The Historical Society began leasing the home in 1966.

The homestead’s restoration over the years has included acquiring interior woodwork from another similar home and several items inside have been set up to period specifications. Visitors got a glimpse of how the Crabills may have lived.

Drew and Laura Towles of Dayton were in the area for a memorial service and brought twins Tyson and Carson for a side trip. Laura’s parents own a vintage home in Champaign County and she noted similarities.

The twins were interested if there were any toys in the house and were curious about the many objects including the spindles on which clothes were created and a mirror that had waves on it, true to the time, as well as a recently-donated rope bed a historical group helped restore.

“I just love old houses,” Laura Towles said.

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The Crabill Homestead, one of the oldest homes in Clark County, held an open house Saturday, May 14, 2022. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Crabill Homestead, one of the oldest homes in Clark County, held an open house Saturday, May 14, 2022. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Combined ShapeCaption
The Crabill Homestead, one of the oldest homes in Clark County, held an open house Saturday, May 14, 2022. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Roxy Barr is making up for lost time, having stayed in and around her Dayton home crocheting for most of the two years of the pandemic. She’s gotten back to enjoying her other hobby of visiting historic places around the state and was revisiting the Crabill House for the first time in years.

“I wanted to see what they’d done to it. I like how they told about how this used to be land and wasn’t always a reservoir,” said Barr.

Her love of history has rubbed off on granddaughter Coleen Ohlinger, who also took the tour. She’ll graduate from Shawnee High School later this week and enjoyed this getaway. She plans to attend Miami University to study English Literature and hopes to teach high school someday, but both plan to continue their history-based trips in the meantime.

Tipton was in her element. A longtime volunteer at the Heritage Center when not volunteering at the Crabill House, doing this keeps her going.

“I enjoy sharing early Springfield and Clark County history to the people and the excitement they get in learning it,” Tipton said.

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Randy Setty, dressed in period clothing , stands in the doorway of the Crabill Homestead Saturday, May 14, 2022 during an open house celebrating the Clark County Historical Society's taking back management of the 1820s house at CJ Brown Reservoir. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Randy Setty, dressed in period clothing , stands in the doorway of the Crabill Homestead Saturday, May 14, 2022 during an open house celebrating the Clark County Historical Society's taking back management of the 1820s house at CJ Brown Reservoir. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Combined ShapeCaption
Randy Setty, dressed in period clothing , stands in the doorway of the Crabill Homestead Saturday, May 14, 2022 during an open house celebrating the Clark County Historical Society's taking back management of the 1820s house at CJ Brown Reservoir. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Crabill Homestead is open for tours the second weekend of the month 1-5 p.m. April through October. Suggested donation is $5 a person to help maintain the homestead.

Fritz said each month will have special themes including Christmas in July and an historic baseball game, and they hope to add evening events such as a tea party or a dinner and possibly a Halloween-themed one this year.

For more information on the Crabill House or upcoming events, visit www.facebook.com/CrabillHomestead/.

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