The General Crook House Museum offers visitors a look into the lives of George and Mary Crook, and so much more.
Built in 1879, the fort was home to the Crooks in the late 1800s as George served as commander of the Department of the Platte. The museum highlights Crook’s role in the trial of Ponca Chief Standing Bear as he became a defender of Native American rights.
The first and second floors of the house are restored to their original condition, a process that took more than 30 years. The basement houses an annual exhibit by the Douglas County Historical Society to highlight historic events that took place in Omaha that residents might not know.
Keeping community members informed about the history of the city is one of the main goals of the historical society.
“It’s really important to preserve what we have left of history and the history of Omaha and Douglas County,” said Somier Mckibbin, guest and administrative coordinator at the house.
Throughout the year, events are held at the house to give visitors a deeper look into life at the fort and the history of Omaha. These events include genealogy classes, car shows, history lectures, luncheons and dinner parties.
Community outreach manager Veronica Kadlec says the authenticity of each event is important to preserving the rich history of the house. “Everything we do, we aim to be as historically accurate as possible,” she said.
Tea parties, luncheons and dinner parties take place in the formal dining room, which supplies partygoers with a view of the Crook House Victorian Heirloom Garden. The garden contains more than 110 varieties of heirloom flowers, trees and shrubs that are native to Nebraska. Flower beds are designed to mimic Oriental rugs, while an ivy-covered arbor provides a beautiful backdrop for wedding vows.
Almost all events hosted by the Douglas County Historical Society take place on house grounds. Dinner parties are popular during the winter at a time where period decorations dress the house for the holidays. Guests are hosted by “General Crook” and “Mary,” who are played by community members dedicated to preserving the history of the fort.
Many visitors are drawn to the museum for the annual Trans-Mississippi Exposition Centennial Celebration. Crook played an important role in the rights of Native Americans, and this event is a way for visitors to celebrate the end of the Standing Bear trial.
While the car shows and luncheons are a great way to bring the community together, Kadlec said it’s important for visitors to remember where they are.
“The main goal is when you walk out of here, especially if you live in the community, is that you’ve learned something completely new that you’ve never known about before,” she said.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum suggests visitors donate $6 for adults ($7 mid-November through December), $5 for students and military, and $4 for children ages 6 to 11. Guided group tours are available by appointment.
This year's Metro Guide lets you take an up-close look at the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area. The guide is our annual look at the events, communities, people and places that define our hometown. Metro Guide was published Aug. 2, 2015. To obtain a copy of the magazine, call 402-444-1419.