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History of Asbury Park
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APHS, P.O. Box 543,
Asbury Park, NJ 07712

508 4th Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

The Stephen Crane House, formerly Arbutus Cottage, was built at 508 Fourth Avenue in 1878, only seven years after the founding of Asbury Park. It remains what is probably the oldest residential structure in Asbury Park and is the sole-standing building in the United States associated with Stephen Crane.

Upon his mother’s purchase of the cottage in the summer of 1883, Crane took up residence in Asbury Park and began his writing career here. While away at boarding schools following his time as a student at the Asbury Park Public School, he would return here every summer through 1892 to write for his brother Townley’s news service, in between working on the fiction that would become his first published stories.

Not yet 12 when he moved here, Stephen had a pony, kept in the backyard barn, and he used to ride along the beachfronts in the Asbury Park area.

His mother was a leader and organizer in the local Women’s Christian Temperance Union and she would host dignitaries and meetings for the Union in the parlor of this house. She was also a well-known lecturer, writer, and organizer on women’s suffrage and topics concerning her Methodist faith. The house was also visited by WCTU founder Frances Willard in the 1880s.

Stephen’s mother died in 1891 and her son William bought out the interests of the other siblings, including Stephen who used his money to help publish Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets in 1893. The house, eventually sold in 1899, had several subsequent owners over the years, having served for decades as a boarding house and the Florence Hotel. The house eventually became uninhabitable and was slated for demolition.

In 1995, Asbury Park residents Tom and Regina Hayes purchased the house for $7,500, which was just $500 more than Mrs. Crane paid for it in 1883. Hayes was intrigued with the house once he learned of the famous author who called it home. The Hayes family and friends turned the Crane House into a community resource and small museum. When they left the city in 2001, they sold the house to Frank D’Alessandro, their Sixth Avenue neighbor, in order to have the house remain as a community resource.

Mr. D’Alessandro has generously offered to sell the Stephen Crane House to the Asbury Park Historical Society for $1; however, the house needs much restoration work.

D’Alessandro, in turn, would be allowed to continue to live in the rear carriage house, which he has converted into his personal residence.

In 2006, Bruce Springsteen donated $25,000 from proceeds of his “Seeger Sessions Band Tour” concerts in Asbury Park to the Stephen Crane House, which was used to repair the roof and do other maintenance projects. Since the Stephen Crane House is privately owned, it is not currently eligible to receive public or private grant money, and the Springsteen contribution remains the largest private contribution to date.

The Asbury Park Historical Society is currently in the process of filing a nominating application with the New Jersey State Historical Preservation Office to have the Crane House placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Once this is done, public, state, federal or private funding sources should become available.