Helen Elston Smith lived in Lane Place from the early 1880s until 1934 when she donated the property to the Montgomery County Historical Society. She was “adopted” as a daughter by her aunt, Joanna Lane, from whom she was willed the property in 1914.
As the child of wealthy and prominent citizens, Helen Smith did not work, but instead became a major fixture on the Crawfordsville social scene. Once she was in her twenties, she began hosting countless numbers of afternoon teas and dinner parties at Lane Place. In particular, she always invited the children and teenagers of Crawfordsville to play and hold events on the Lane Place grounds. In 1896 she rose to the top of the local social pyramid by founding the Dramatic Club–the town’s most exclusive club.
During the 1910s and 1920s, she spent over $27,000 on improvements to Lane Place, and worked hard to maintain it as a historic property. Before the property was ever donated to the MCHS, she commonly gave tours of the house to tourists and other interested parties–a tradition that we now proudly continue.
Helen Smith was always the life of the party, and was a major fixture at local social, political, and community events in Crawfordsville for half a century. She is pictured above next to her BFF, Anna Willson (later the famed local principal), during a night on the town.