The living room space has more information on the Cranes and their history, as well as photos of the house from the ’50s. ABIGAIL HADDOCK/Keys Weekly

The Crane Point Museum and Nature Center’s historic Crane House, built in 1954, has completed renovations, returning the home’s original style and integrating modern amenities. 

The house is named after Francis and Mary Crane, the conservationist couple who owned the property until the 1970s. Considered one of the earliest examples of modern architecture in the Keys, it was designed by architect Wahl Snyder. 

“He was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright,” said designer and Crane Point board vice president Lynn Voit. “His work is quite before its time.” 

Snyder built schools, hotels and homes throughout Florida, but not all the buildings were as lucky as the Crane House to have advocates like Voit and Crane Point CEO Charlotte Quinn. In 2021, Snyder’s home in Miami Shores was demolished, to the dismay of local historians, architects and artists. His “Crawford House” in Baton Rouge, Louisiana met a similar fate, despite local preservation societies’ attempts to get it on the National Register of Historic Places – including a petition with more than 7,000 signatures.

The Crane House however, now gets new life as a tribute to the history of South Florida and the Keys. 

“I was taking three trips a day to the house during these renovations, and I never got tired,” said Voit. “But I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. 

“I remember coming here 40 years ago, and there was nothing here. And then through Charlotte’s perseverance, we got that train. That got me interested. I’m an artist, so I like the visual presentation, and I like the history.” 

Now the house is filled with history. Original ceiling decorations honor the Great Pyrenees dogs the Cranes saved during World War II and brought to America, becoming founders of the breed in the U.S. Recreations of indigenous artifacts reflect pieces the couple collected and donated to museums.

Recovering this history was a huge effort. The many windows overlooking the Gulf of Mexico took six washers three days to clean. One bedroom still had its original 70-year-old 2-inch green shag carpet. And the bathrooms, now redone with ’50s-style colorful tiles, were simply described by Voit as “nasty.” Now the rooms are picturesque with vintage charm and Gulf views. The details, from the doorknobs to countertops, are authentic to the original vintage house, but also modern and functional.

Quinn and Voit both emphasized that this project was possible thanks to donors. 

“We are very grateful,” said Quinn. “We’ve seen so much generosity from such incredible people to make this happen.” 

Voit also praised the Marathon community. “Everybody here is giving back,” she said. “It’s a very giving community, and a melting pot of people. The people here at Crane Point are a melting pot too, but we all come together preserving this fabulous wonderland.”

With the renovations complete, Crane Point will be opening the Crane House as a venue for weddings, parties and business events. It is a prime spot for event photo opportunities, and offers a historic and naturally beautiful venue.

Abigail Haddock moved to the Keys 2 days after graduating from University of Miami, and works at Dolphin Research Center as a Research Specialist. She likes reading, volleyball, saying TV shows are 'on her list' and then accidentally never watching them, and her cat Sebastian.