BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Not many people can say where their ancestors once lived is now a historic site, but Rob Hanna can. “I think my mom would bring me here [the Former Governor’s Mansion] to visit at least once a Summer from before I can remember and she’d point out his portrait on the stairs and say: ‘Well, that’s your great grandfather,'” Hanna said.

Louis Hanna was the 11th Governor of North Dakota, serving between 1913 and 1917, and lived in what’s now the Former Governor’s Mansion. Now, in 2022, his great-grandson, is in charge of preserving history: a task about which he is very passionate.

“I guess I’m one of those people who can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in history. But more than anything, I’m just interested in humanity,” Hanna said.

Hanna is a North Dakota native and has been working for the state historical society since 2018. Before that, he worked at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. His responsibilities include budgeting and supervising, as well as making sure visitors to the state’s historic sites understand why they are just that: historic. Hanna said there’s nothing quite like getting to see history in person.

“They’re meaningful, they just speak for themselves. As long as we know how these places will best serve the community in each time and each generation, the rest will take care of itself,” Hanna said.

Hanna’s wife, Caitlin Straabe, said with Hanna’s help, the importance of North Dakota history won’t be forgotten. “I mean have I heard a similar story more than once? Absolutely. I’m interested in local history too. I have a minor in history; I didn’t major in it. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in his excitement because he’s so passionate about it and he does a really good job getting other people passionate about it too,” Straabe said.

Since he does have former gubernatorial ties, I asked the couple if they could ever see themselves living in a home full of history. “I don’t think the state would let us,” Straabe said, laughing. “I know exactly how drafty that house is,” Hanna said. “There would be some remodeling needing to be done. It’s for the public now, it’s not just for us,” Straabe added. As for thinking of following in great grandfather Hanna’s footsteps… “No. I don’t think I really have. I have no interest in doing that. I’m doing exactly what I love,” Hanna said.

If Hanna looks familiar, he was one of the many contributors to our story we aired last Summer on the 70th anniversary of the TV debut of Lawrence Welk.