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Monday, October 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Bing Crosby collection on display in his boyhood home

In the Crosby House on the Gonzaga University campus, curator Stephanie Plowman explains the history of the best-actor Oscar that Bing Crosby won in 1945 for the movie “Going My Way.” (Colin Mulvany)
In the Crosby House on the Gonzaga University campus, curator Stephanie Plowman explains the history of the best-actor Oscar that Bing Crosby won in 1945 for the movie “Going My Way.” (Colin Mulvany)

In a display case in the boyhood home of Bing Crosby is a 1946 Newsweek magazine with a portrait of Crosby on the cover.

The headline reads, “Crosby: His music is for millions.”

It is also timeless, judging from Crosby’s enduring popularity.

The magazine is just one piece of Gonzaga University’s collection of Crosby memorabilia, which has been moved from the Crosbyana Room at the Crosby Student Center to the Crosby House at 508 E. Sharp Ave.

A grand opening for the reorganized collection will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

In the former dining room of the 1913 Crosby House are photographs of Bing, his first wife and their four children. She died in 1953 from cancer. Later photos show Crosby and his second wife, Kathryn, and their three children.

In the living room is a working Victrola with a recording of Crosby’s version of the Irving Berlin song “White Christmas.”

In the adjoining room is an authorized duplicate of Crosby’s best-actor Oscar from 1945, given for his role in the movie “Going My Way.”

The back wall is lined with his gold records.

In a corner is a photograph of Crosby performing with the Gonzaga University Glee Club on ABC radio in 1949 in Hollywood.

“I always say Bing put Spokane on the map,” said Stephanie Plowman, Crosby curator and special collections librarian at Gonzaga.

Plowman said a key to Crosby’s success was the classical education he received at GU, including Greek, Latin, religion, philosophy and elocution.

“He is the only classically trained singer of his time,” she said.

She said Gonzaga has the largest collection of Crosby memorabilia not held by Kathryn Crosby, who survives Bing.

The Crosbyana Room has long been a draw for tourists from around the world, Plowman said. Each year, about 1,000 people come to see the collection. The guest book proves it.

From the collection’s new home in the Crosby House, a visitor can look out the windows and see the places where he attended grade school, high school, college and church.

The home was purchased by the GU Alumni Association in 1978, according to a university news release. The university acquired the home in 2008.

Gonzaga installed new lighting in the dining room and parlor, added display cases and painted the walls and portions of the woodwork. But much of the home’s elegant woodwork and other Craftsman elements remain in original condition.

Crosby was born in Tacoma in 1903 and was brought to Spokane in 1906 when his father went to work as a bookkeeper at a brewery here, Plowman said.

The family initially rented a home two blocks to the north of campus.

Crosby lived in the Sharp Avenue house until he left college in 1925 to pursue his career in Hollywood.

Advocates of the Bing Crosby Theater are hosting Saturday’s grand opening.

The collection’s regular hours will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. On Saturday, volunteers from the advocates group will open the display from 1 to 4 p.m. There is no charge to visit the Crosby House.

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