Young Bing Crosby Photos Debut at 'White Christmas' Open House

Photos of young Bing Crosby

November 25, 2014

Gonzaga News Service 

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga University and the Advocates for Bing Crosby invite the public to celebrate the holiday season with a free "White Christmas" open house at Bing's boyhood home (508 E. Sharp Ave.) from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6. Hot cider and cookies will be available along with some new photos of Bing as a youngster.

The Crosby family recently donated the new images to Gonzaga in time for the event, which will include exhibits of Bing Crosby memorabilia from Gonzaga's collection. Of the 70 images donated to Gonzaga, about 25 of them depict a young Bing Crosby. The other images include photos of his parents and relatives. The display will include approximately 18 of the newly donated photos. Gonzaga's Crosby House will be freshly adorned in festive Christmas decorations and Bing's best Christmas recordings will be played. The Craftsman-style house where Gonzaga's most famous alumnus grew up is the public museum for the world's largest public collection of Bing Crosby memorabilia.

The house, which sits on Gonzaga's northern boundary at the main entrance to campus, was built by Bing's father and uncles. The family moved into the house when it was completed in 1913 and Bing lived there until he left for Hollywood in 1925. The Crosby family sold the home in 1936 to a neighbor, who lived there until 1978 when the Gonzaga Alumni Association purchased it. The University acquired the home in 2008.

Bing Crosby began donating items to Gonzaga in 1957, including gold and platinum records, trophies, plaques, and photographs and more. In addition to the generous donations of materials by Bing prior to his death, Crosby fans and family began to recognize Gonzaga as the home of all things Crosby. In 1993, the University received the entire collection from the Bing Crosby Historical Society in Tacoma, Washington. Additionally, several collectors have given major donations of Crosby recordings. It's the world's largest public collection of Bing Crosby memorabilia.

Thousands of visitors — from all 50 states and at least 20 countries — flock to Gonzaga each year to view the Crosby Collection. Crosby fans recognize Spokane as being his hometown and Gonzaga as his alma mater. Visitors can see approximately 200 items, including the duplicate Oscar he won in 1944 for "Going My Way." There are 22 gold and two platinum records from such titles as "White Christmas," "Silent Night," and "Swinging on a Star." Also displayed are movie stills and photographs, record albums, books, and sheet music. There are many trophies and awards he received over the years from various organizations. There are also items from the Crosby Research Foundation, such as the "Trip Trap," a mousetrap that the foundation invented. There is also a health device that Crosby endorsed called "Stretch to Your Health with the Stars."

What's on display in the Crosby House represents just a portion of the total Crosby Collection materials. What is not on display is housed in the University Archives and Special Collections vault in the Foley Center Library. This vault also houses the University's Rare Book Collection, the Gerard Manley Hopkins Collection and other manuscript collections.

The Crosby House is open to the public on weekdays from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. Schedules may vary during the University's Christmas break period for students from Dec. 20 through Jan. 12.