Save the Cracker House

It was 1872 when the home of St. Joseph native frank Sommers was built. Many might not be familiar with his name, but most have enjoyed his salty snack creation.

Sommers is credited with the invention of the saltine cracker, and his home has now been adopted by the Cracker House Project.

President of the project Leah Swindler said the home holds special meaning.

“This man built his business; he was an immigrant, lived the American dream and built his business from the ground up in St. Joseph,” Swindler said. “I think we should honor what’s gone before us and use it for our future entrepreneurs.”

This January, the project began restoring the exterior of the home by tearing down the old roof, but volunteers still have a long line of work ahead.

“The roof was very, very damaged from years of neglect — it had been leaking since the eighties, and so the interior is very damaged as well,” Swindler said.

Volunteer for the project Lauren Manning said the appearance of the house in its current state doesn’t scare her.

“I’ve seen houses actually in worse shape that are beautiful now and fully restored, and this is just a great opportunity to do that here,” Manning said.

All of the materials needed to fix the home have come from donations and volunteers. Overall the Cracker House needs roughly $60,000 to complete the project.

“Our initial goals about $60,000 to get the roof off and get a new roof back on,” Swindler said. “Up to that point we have spent about $25,000 on the house already, and we need another 25 to 30 to get the brickwork finished and then get the donated materials put on the roof.”

Aside from the amount of work that remains, Swindler has already begun sketching a plan for what the home will become once it’s restored to its former glory.

“We envision the first floor being an open space that is a little bit of retail, and maybe a community area,” Swindler said. “So, we’ve talked about a cafe, we’ve talked about a trolley depot that will be used for historical trolley tours for tourists.”

This coming month the project will begin a kick-starter campaign that will make it easier for those would like to donate or volunteer their time to helping out the project.

The Cracker House is currently accepting donations through their GoFundMe page at GoFundMe.com/crackerhouse.

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