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Step back in time at the Crosby House in Tumwater

The end of October is near, which means one more Sunday of getting a chance to visit the Crosby House Museum in Tumwater before it closes for the season.

Several people did that Sunday, including a group of seniors from a Lacey-area retirement facility who decided to visit a home built in 1860.

The house originally was home to Nathaniel Crosby III, a sailor, and Cordelia Jane Smith, a woman who crossed the plains and made her way to this part of the state, said Gail Dahm, president of the Olympia Chapter No. 4 of the Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington. The city of Tumwater owns the property, but the Olympia chapter runs the museum, she said.

The couple had two sons, Frank and Harry. Harry would father a son named Harry Lillis Crosby Jr. — known to the world as Bing — according to a brochure about the museum.

The house fell into disrepair over the years, until Olympia Chapter No. 4 acquired the property and fixed it up in the late 1940s through the early ’50s, Dahm said, including with donated period furnishings and fixtures. A bathroom and kitchen were later added to the house, she said.

The house originally had three bedrooms and what was thought to be a nursery, which is now a storage room, Dahm said. It also has no closets because people of the period used to put their belongings in chests and foot lockers.

Crosby House is open from April through the end of October, 1-4 p.m. Fridays and Sundays, at 703 Deschutes Way N. During the third Sundays of the month, re-enactors bring an additional historic touch to the museum, such as Etta Keller and her daughter, Courtney, both of Olympia, who were wearing 19th-century dresses Sunday.

And both were playing family members who had ties to the Crosby family: Courtney Keller was Phoebe Louisa, a niece, while Etta Keller played Phoebe’s mother, who, not to be confusing, also was named Phoebe.

“Tapping into history makes me feel close to them,” Courtney Keller said about the re-enactments. “It makes history more tangible.”

Etta Keller also is the administrative assistant for the Crosby House Museum, while Bev York, also dressed in period clothes Sunday, is the program coordinator.

“It’s a wonderful piece of history that needs to be told,” York said about the museum.

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