HISTORICAL SOCIETY TO ACQUIRE 1878 STEPHEN CRANE HOUSE
The Asbury Park Historical Society is working on a deal to take ownership of the Stephen Crane House and turn the 1878 house on Fourth Avenue into a museum. The society is trying to raise $100,000 this year to help fund related acquisition and repair costs.
The current owner of the house, Frank D'Alessandro, has offered to sell the house to the Historical Society for $1 if he can continue to live in the converted barn behind the house. D’Alessandro purchased the property in 2001.
"The society needs a home," D'Alessandro told the society membership at their annual meeting at the Asbury Park Library.
D'Alessandro bought the property from Tom and Regina Hayes in 2001 when the couple moved from Asbury Park. They paid $7,500 for it in 1995 and made some major improvements to the building, including a new roof paid for with a donation from Bruce Springsteen. They sold it with the stipulation that it be maintained as a museum. It has been used for special programs and performances for 10 years.
The Stephen Crane House at 508 Fourth Ave. is one of the oldest houses in Asbury Park - if not the oldest - and was built in 1878. Author Stephen Crane lived in the house for nine years, about one-third of his life. He died in 1900 at age 29. Crane's best known work is "The Red Badge of Courage" and his archives are kept at Syracuse University.
"This is the biggest challenge ever for the Historical Society," according to President Don Stine, who said its two previous challenges have been a monument for the Morro Castle shipwreck off Asbury Park and the refurbishing of the Rainbow Room sign from the former Albion Hotel which now hangs in the Transportation Center.
A number of issues need to be resolved, however, for the society to move forward and acquire the Crane House. A variance to turn it into a museum has already been granted by the city and it's been suggested the property could be divided into two separate lots for the house and the rear carriage house.
Applications are also pending to have the Crane House placed on the state and national Registries of Historic Places. If either the state or the federal government grants the application, approval by the other would be automatic.
The Historical Society is trying to raise $100,000 this year to fund closing costs, insurance, escrow funds, and repairs.