WAHOO – One of Wahoo’s famous son’s birthdays is fast approaching and there is good reason to believe his birthplace will be ready for a celebration.
A repair project at Hanson House in Wahoo is moving into its final stages. Repair work began last November, after a two-vehicle crash at the nearby 12th and Linden streets intersection parked one of those vehicles in the dining room.
Progress on repairs stalled earlier this year when the Saunders County Historical Society, who owns the house, ran into problems finding wallpaper that matched the style of Victorian era home.
But Saunders County Historical Society Board Member Mary Bergan said that problem has been solved and the house should be ready for a grand reopening on the weekend of Oct. 26. That is just in time to celebrate the 123rd anniversary of Howard Hanson’s birth on Oct. 28.
Hanson – a famed music educator, director of Eastman School of Music and Pulitzer Prize winner – died in 1981, but had returned to his boyhood hometown many times during his career.
A sneak peak of the repairs at his boyhood home and music on the piano he once played took place on Aug. 28. Bergan said the third annual Piano and Peacock Party was a chance to open the house up once again and start to create some excitement for the grand re-opening.
There is still more work to do, though.
The room where the vehicle landed has been repaired and now the task at hand is to finish the walls. Rhonda McClure of Wahoo has been hired to do that.
McClure said most of the wall prep work has been done and she was anticipating putting up the wallpaper this week.
McClure’s part of the project involved removing the 40-year old plus wallpaper and preparing the walls for the new wallpaper. She said there are always challenges when working on projects of this type. Luckily, she has experienced very few surprises during the removal and drywall mudding.
“I’ve done enough of these old houses. I know what the potential problems could be,” she said.
Plus, this isn’t her first time working in Hanson House.
McClure fixed water stains in the corner of the dining room several years ago.
“So when I got to that corner, I already knew what was there,” she said.
When the pickup was forced last November over the porch and into the northeast corner of the house, some damage also occurred in the alcove area under the stairway.
McClure was also tasked to fix that area. On the wall that was damaged there, she was able to creatively do some faux painting to match the wallpaper in the nearby room.
A small patch was still needed last week above the doorway into the dining room. Luckily, there were some remnants of the original wallpaper and border still at the house.
Those will be able to be used for the patch, she said.
McClures work can also be seen in the kitchen. But, she said that wallpaper was put up years ago for another project at the house.
She joked that she had to come out of retirement this time to do the work at Hanson House. But really, she didn’t mind.
“I appreciate history and the community,” she said.
McClure moved here 45 years ago and considers it home. She wanted to do the project for her hometown and the hometown of a famous son.
“I’ve always been a fan of the five famous sons,” she added.
But as an artist herself, she is quick to point out that the majority of the five famous sons have something in common.
“There is one in sports, one in science and three in the arts,” McClure noted. “I support the arts.”
In addition to displays and information about Hanson, Hanson House also has displays on the other famous sons.
There is Darryl Zanuck (1902-1979), an early giant in the movie industry who won academy awards. The other “son” in the arts is C.W. Anderson (1891-1971, who was a children’s book author and illustrator and is perhaps best known for his “Billy and Blaze” series.
The sports son is “Wahoo Sam” Crawford (1880-1068), who was elected to the Baseball Hall of fame in 1957 and still holds a Major League Baseball record for triples.
The fifth person that has been tabbed as a Wahoo famous son is George Beadle (1903-1989). Beadle was a Nobel prize winning geneticist and seventh president of University of Chicago.
Bergan said she is excited to have the Hanson House open to the public again. There have been a few tours by appointment, but those have been limited due to the ongoing construction.
Before the big pre-birthday grand re-opening, she added that the entire house will have to be cleaned. Volunteers are being asked to help with this task.