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Stephen Crane House


508 4th Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Stephen Crane House is a historic house in Asbury Park, New Jersey, which is a testament to the life and legacy of the famous author Stephen Crane. This house has been preserved by the Asbury Park Historical Society to commemorate the time the author spent living in Asbury Park and to celebrate his contribution to American literature.

The house was built in 1878, originally constructed to be a summer home in the seaside town of Asbury Park. Stephen Crane’s mother, Mary “Helen” Peck Crane, recently widowed, purchased the home at 508 Fourth Avenue in 1883 and was the first year-round resident of the house she dubbed “Arbutus Cottage.” Stephen Crane lived in Asbury Park with his mother and sister from 1883 to 1892. 

Who was Stephen Crane

Stephen Crane is widely regarded as one of the most influential American writers of the late 19th century. He is best known for his novel, “The Red Badge of Courage,” which is considered a masterpiece of American literature. The novel tells the story of a young Union soldier during the Civil War and explores themes of fear, bravery, and the meaning of courage. The novel was widely acclaimed for its realistic portrayal of the war and the soldier’s experience, and it has been adapted into several films and stage productions.

Apart from “The Red Badge of Courage,” Crane is also known for a few other works, such as “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets,” “The Open Boat,” and a poetry collection “The Black Riders, and other lines,” as well as some short stories. His writing style was characterized by his use of naturalism, which sought to depict life as it is, without any romantic or idealistic embellishments. His works were also noted for their vivid imagery, psychological depth, and social commentary, and he was considered an important voice of his time.

Ownership of the Stephen Crane House

With his mother’s death in 1891, the Arbutus Cottage would stay within the Crane family for another 8 years and be eventually sold in 1899. The period after the Crane family, the house would see several different owners and be used in a manner of different ways. It wasn’t until after the second world war that Florence McCorkendale and her husband would create a period of stability by rebranding the house as Hotel Florence. However, after their passing the house was back on the market in 1993. 

Eventually, in 1995, Asbury Park citizen Thomas Hayes and his wife heard about the connection to Stephen Crane and purchased the house, which was in danger of being raised, in hopes to restore it to its former glory. After months of work and help from a local historian Werner Baumgartner as well as several community volunteers, the Stephen Crane House opened to the public as a museum to honor the legacy of Stephen Crane. The museum also started hosting several cultural events such as story sessions and theater presentations. 

In 2001 the Hayes family decided to move on from Asbury Park, and their neighbor Frank D’Alessandro, a retired educator, bought the house to continue the work of restoring the house. During this time, several upstairs rooms were restored and opened for viewing, civic organizations started hosting meetings at the house, and the Lecture Room theater was created as well. The Stephen Crane House became a literary culture hub as its events expanded to include book clubs, film screenings, writers’ groups, and theater productions. 

Asbury Park Historical Society HQ

Frank D’Alessandro was also a member of the Asbury Park Historical Society, conducting their monthly meetings at the house. In 2015, Frank would officially donate the house to the society. In that same year and before the official ownership change, after extensive historical research, the Stephen Crane House was inducted into the New Jersey Register of Historical Places. 

As one of the oldest houses in Asbury Park, The Stephen Crane House continues to serve as the Asbury Park Historical Society’s headquarters. The society is dedicated to the continued restoration and preservation of the historic home. 

Visiting the Stephen Crane House

Visitors can tour the house on Sundays anytime between 12 PM – 2 PM or can make an appointment. For larger groups, an appointment must be made beforehand. The house can also be used for meetings or special events. The events calendar is updated regularly with cultural events that are open to the public. 

The Stephen Crane House is a valuable historic landmark that celebrates the life and works of one of America’s most renowned writers. The house is a must-visit for anyone interested in American literature, and it stands as a symbol of the power of community efforts to preserve the past and honor those who have contributed to it.

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