A newly formed citizens group has purchased a 120-year-old Victorian home with plans to restore it.
The Craighead House, located next to railroad tracks and Yellow Breeches Creek in South Middleton Township, was known as “Craighead Station” in the 1930s.
The building was home to author Jean Craighead George, a Newbery Award-winning writer, and her twin brothers, Frank Jr. and John Craighead, who were best known for live-trapping and studying the grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park, moves that were credited with helping to save the species from extinction.
The recently established Craighead House Committee Corp. is in the process of purchasing the home thanks to a unnamed donor who was willing to put up some money for it, according to Johnson Coyle, one of the leaders of the group.
“We didn’t want someone else to buy it, and we would like to restore it to what it looked like in the 1930s,” Coyle said.
Repairing the home to save its Victorian architecture and hand-cartooned kitchen walls aren’t the only reasons the group wants to preserve history; they also want to offer office space for conservation-related organizations, a museum and displays, and educational programs.
“Most of (the money) hasn’t been raised yet as we have major repairs to make to get it in shape,” said Tom Benjey, a member of the group who is in the process of writing a book about the family that lived there.
The group is planning major fundraising efforts to pay off the mortgage and complete the renovation, he said.
A website, craigheadhouse.org, has been established, and donations can be given to the organization through PayPal.
Surviving family members were contacted and didn’t object to the sale.
“The family members were pleased to hear about the group buying the home because they didn’t have the means to personally fix it up,” Coyle said.