About Arbor House

This beautiful Victorian home with the wrap around front porch was built 1898 to 1899 by William and Elisabeth Rohe.   William and his brother Charles grew up on a farm in Crete and attended Illinois College of Pharmacy of Northwestern University. In 1889 the two brothers opened their Rohe Drug Store in a building they purchased at 1364 Main Street, Crete.


In addition to drugs and patent medicines, their store sold wallpaper, paint, watches, clocks, jewelry, silverware, books, cigars, tobacco as well as sewing machines.  Students bought all their school supplies here.


In 1896 William Rohe became President of the First State Bank of Steger, leaving the drug store to his brother.  He served as Postmaster of Crete from 1894 to 1897, because the post office mailboxes were moved to the back of their drug store.  In 1917 William was elected Mayor of Crete and served until 1923.


William and Elisabeth married in 1897 and had two daughters, Helen and Ann, who were both born at home.  After Ann was born in 1901, they placed a name plate above their front door with the letters WEHA, using the first initials of their names.  William passed away in 1938 and Elisabeth in 1959 at the age of 96.


After Ann graduated from Purdue University in 1923, she taught school.  In 1927 she married Captain Ray Milton at West Point Military Academy.  Ann and their three children, Kent, Carl and Elisabeth, moved back to her parents’ home when her husband who was then a Colonel in the Army, was assigned overseas.


After her husband died in 1961, Ann continued to live at 1304 Main, enjoying the young teachers who rented her upstairs rooms.  She was very active in many Crete organizations and even held the Well Baby Clinic in her home when the Town Hall was not available.  In 1965 Ann was named Citizen of the Year by the Crete AMVETS organization.

In 1984 Ann entered into an installment contract with Mary Ann and Keith McLean that allowed her to live in her home till she passed away.  Fortunately, Ann was away visiting her son in 1986 when a fire broke out in her basement on Christmas Eve.  Some interior walls were damaged and smoke permeated the home.  After several months of work, Ann returned to her home where she passed away in 1991.


 The McLeans then became the full owners of this historic home.  They sold it in June 1992 to a David Colmar who rented it to Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage to provide more space next door to its main office in Crete for additional realtors. 


In 1997 the home became a family residence again when it was purchased by Tim and Susan Fuller.  Jeffrey Baranski and his family owned the home from 2011 to 2015. 


When Ken and Terry Mabs purchased the home in 2017, it had been through a mortgage foreclosure and was in very poor condition.  On a very cold day in February 2018 with no heat in the home, the officers of Crete Creative Art Gallery were able to see the interior with the Mabs and asked if they would consider having an art gallery on the first floor.  Crete Creative is very thankful that the Mabs’ answer was YES.   


However, so much work had to be done on the interior and exterior of this remarkable home by Terry and Ken that it took till September 6, 2019 for the Gallery to finally open.   The first exhibition with the theme Equine: Beauty featured the artwork of 17 artists from Illinois and Indiana.