History of the CRAF Center from 1931 to present

Our History

1931-1992

In 1992 a group of people from the community organized to explore the fate of the "old middle school". This 43,000 square foot facility has served the community in many ways and very well. The original building is the two-story section on the northwest corner of the current facility. This portion was constructed in 1931 and served as a Kindergarten through 12th grade school and was called the Roscommon School. The previous school building was the Masonic Temple that was across the street.  The original building was added on to in 1935, 1954, and 1958 with the final addition completed in 1962.In 1993 the Gerrish Higgins Board of Education entered into a purchase agreement with the Village of Roscommon for acquisition of the "old middle school". With the school boards approval the building was assigned to the Roscommon Metropolitan Recreational Authority (R.M.R.A.).

1993 – CRAF Center Early Times

The last classes were in June of 1993 after which ownership was formally turned over to R.M.R.A. Earlier that summer the Roscommon Rotary Club and the Zonta Club contributed $35,000 and $15,000 respectfully to remodel, establish and equip the fitness center. The Higgins Lake-Roscommon Lions Club contributed funding to renovate both the men and women's locker rooms. For over 2 1/2 years the Camp Lehman trustee program through the Michigan Department of Corrections furnished an inexpensive work crew that completed a significant amount of the renovations throughout the facility.

Jo Ann Tyler proposed the acronym C.R.A.F. Center as the name of the facility based on the goals of the group to provide a facility that serves the community by offering a Center for Recreation, Activities, and Fitness Activities. The group adopted this as the facility name. What started out as a fitness center and gymnasium has mushroomed to the present day to include many activities, classes, community events and facility room rentals. A portion of the building has been deeded to Roscommon County for expansion of County facilities including Second Chance Academy, Juvenile Detention Center and Children’s Assessment Center. The added gazebo on the front lawn serves as the center of the Art Festival, Christmas in the Village as well as offering a fine free concert series throughout the summer. The C.R.A.F. acronym certainly exceeded its expectations when the group adopted it in the spring of 1993.

1993 - Present

The building is still owned and operated by the Roscommon Metropolitan Recreation Authority. Since acquiring the building a major portion of the roof recovered, windows replaced, some walls insulated and the gymnasium floor completely refinished in the mid 2000’s. The largest improvement were in 2016, 20 years after the initial opening of the building. This included replacement of hot water heating system, electrical upgrades, LED lighting throughout, new carpet, walls painted, new equipment, security system, 24 hour accessibility and signage showcasing the new logo for building identification. The last and biggest project was replacement of the gym floor that was planned for in June 2017.

Special Mention

One would be remiss in not mentioning Mary Loughray who made the largest individual financial contribution to the C.R.A.F. Center to establish and preserve the Enrichment Center, which represents the original 1931 building. Mary made a marvelous donation in the memory of her husband Woodrow "Woody" Loughray, whose spirit still remains with us. Many individuals and service groups were instrumental in the success of this facility and there are a number who are recognized on the Wall of Honor. The Gerrish-Higgins Alumni Committee hold a special fondness for the "old building" where so many alumni attended and use us for their meetings and Annual Alumni Gathering. In the most recent years the Roscommon DDA, the Roscommon Rotary, Roscommon County Community Foundation, area business and CRAF Center members have donated over $160,000.00 to the center for building upgrades, remodeling and equipment.