East Texans will have a chance to support the preservation of local history this Saturday at the annual Miss Mabel’s Plants in the Patch Plant Sale organized by Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation.
Funds raised from the plant sale will be used to continue renovations at the Dean-Keener-Crim house, the oldest structure in Kilgore.
The home, along with furnishings, was donated to KHPF in 2000 and, for several years, foundation members have been carefully restoring and renovating the house in the hope it can become a local attraction.
“We’re working on restoring the house and this is one of our annual fundraisers,” said David Reeves, a KHPF member who has helped lead the restoration effort.
He said there is no set fundraising goal for this year’s plant sale, the group is trying to raise “just as much as we can.”
An anonymous donor has pledged to support the foundation’s fundraising efforts in 2019.
“This year we have a $20,000 dollar matching grant. They will match everything up to $20,000 that we can raise,” Reeves said. He doesn’t expect to meet the full match amount from plant sale funds alone but every little bit helps.
Past renovation efforts included installing new plumbing in the house, new electrical wiring and sheet rock. After years of work, the renovation project is steadily progressing.
“All of the major structural work and all that’s been done. We’re down to interior decorating and landscaping and the sprinkler system. Our major hurdle will be wallpapering. Once we get the wallpapering done then they can start furnishing the house again,” Reeves said.
Completing the work in a historically accurate way will be a challenge. Renovations are expensive and KHPF nets about $4,000 from each plant sale.
“The wallpapering is going to be several thousand dollars. We’re trying to pick out paper that’s period-appropriate for the house.”
First built in 1876, the Dean-Keener-Crim house located at 101 E. Lantrip St. was owned and expanded by several families in the area since Kilgore was first founded. In 1902, Wiley and Eudora Crim purchased the home, adding a screened porch and a well. Their home purchase was a lucky one, as seven oil wells were located on the Crim property during the East Texas Oil Boom.
The house remained in the ownership of the Crim family until 1999 and it was donated shortly thereafter.
“It’s the oldest house left in Kilgore and we’re taking it back to the period from the 1880s to the early 1900s which predates anything else in Kilgore as far as the time period. People can get a glimpse at what life was like in Kilgore before the discovery of oil,” Reeves said.
The plant sale will be held at the house on Lantrip Street from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 16. To learn more about the history of the Dean-Keener-Crim house and about KHPF, visit KilgoreHistory.org.
Reeves hopes locals will attend the plant sale to show their support for the restoration project and for the preservation of Kilgore history.
“We’d be grateful for everybody to come out and have a fun time and pick up plants for a good cause.”