CRA marks its 90th year

 

Funding from Crane helped build community center

Berkshire Eagle 11/11/2013, Page B01

By Phil Demers

Berkshire Eagle Staff

DALTON — Douglas Crane — great great- great-great grandson of the man who willed the money which built the Dalton Community Recreation Association — joined a crowd in ringing in the town institution’s 90th anniversary Saturday.

“Tonight we’re thinking back on someone that had the foresight to provide a gift to the town, the community,” Crane said.

“Obviously, this institution is a really important one for Dalton.”

That man was Winthrop Murray Crane, a Dalton native.

A businessman and politician, Crane greatly expanded the papermaking Crane & Co. and served as governor of Massachusetts and as a United States Senator in his lifetime.

Crane willed to the town $ 100,000 to build an educational, recreational, social and cultural center. He died in 1920, and the building opened in 1923.

The CRA has been a cornerstone of the town ever since. Swimming, sports, exercise classes, weddings, live music, voting — you name it, it goes on there.

On Saturday, Douglas Crane, now vice president of Crane, found the occasion an appropriate one for a short history lesson on the man, the business and the town.

He recounted how the company mostly profited by selling small paper cartridges for ammunition before the 1870s, when Winthrop Murray Crane headed to Washington, D.C., in search of a lucrative contract from the U.S. government to print money.

Crane underbid the closest competitor by one-tenth of one cent per pound of paper, and the rest is history. More than $ 26 billion in U. S. currency currently is in circulation throughout the world, and “every single one came from Dalton.”

“Without the events of that fateful day (in Washington), I wonder what Dalton would look like today? It’s hard to overestimate the importance,” Crane said.

The event also saw state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, present an award recognizing the CRA’s service to the community to current Executive Director Alison Peters.

John Kittredge, a CRA trustee, said the institution, with more than 100 programs available to people of all ages, is healthy as ever.

“ We’re doing very, very well,” he said.

To reach Phil Demers: pdemers@berkshireeagle.comor (413) 281-2859. On Twitter: @BE_PhilD