Author Stephen Crane and Asbury Park’s paths intertwined at birth. Asbury Park was founded in 1871. Stephen Crane was born the same year.
“He was born in Newark; his father was the head of all of the Methodist churches in Newark at the time. His father had written pamphlets on the evils of reading novels, dancing, and things like that. All of the things that Stephen liked to do,” said Frank D’Alessandro, owner of The Stephen Crane House.
D’Alessandro purchased it in 2001 to preserve it as a museum. It’s filled with all sorts of artifacts. Original pressings of Crane’s books, magazines and newspaper articles he wrote. The oldest artifact other than the house itself is on old wooden ironing board.
“There’s absolutely no metal of any kind in it. So we think probably Mrs. Crane used it.”
The Stephen Crane House was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. There was a time the property was slated for demolition.
“Thank god Bruce Springsteen came along and gave us 25,000 dollars to fix the roof. That was the key to stabilizing the house.”
Crane was a rebellious Jersey artist in his own right during his Asbury Park years. His first novel 'Maggie, A Girl of the Streets was so controversial in 1893, he published it under a pseudonym so it wouldn’t tarnish his career writing for newspapers.
“His brother lived here in Asbury Park. [It’s] one of the reasons why his mother moved here. He was one of the founders of what became the Asbury Park Press, he would write stories for his brother,” D’Alessandro said. “He worked for William Randolph Hearst. He also worked for Joseph Pulitzer. They gave him money to go over to Cuba to help him ferment a war. As William Randolph Hearst gave us the Spanish American War.”
Not long after returning from Cuba, Stephen Crane was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. He was 28 years old.
“On June 5th, 1900, he died in Badenweiler, Germany. His wife took his body back to London so that his friends could say goodbye. Then he was on a steamer to New York. Had the funeral there at the end of June 1900. And then eventually he is buried in Hillside, New Jersey, right off of Route 22 in Evergreen Cemetery.”
Today, Stephen Crane’s works are taught in schools and universities all over the country. His novels have been adapted into films. And of course there’s this 19th century home, preserving itself and Stephen Crane’s legacy on the Jersey Shore.