Cranford Historical Preservation Advisory Board

Cranford Historical Preservation Advisory Board
Cranford Historical Preservation Advisory Board
Abbreviation HPAB
Formation (December 28, 1993)
Purpose/focus To help protect and preserve the architectural heritage and character of Cranford.
Location Cranford, New Jersey 07016
Region served Cranford, New Jersey
Membership Appointed members, associate members and alternates
Chairperson Maureen Strazdon

Cranford Historical Preservation Advisory Board was established on December 28, 1993 by the Township of Cranford, New Jersey, USA to identify and preserve buildings of historic significance.



Cranford, New Jersey is home to a diverse number of historic architectural styles, historically significant buildings, and landmarks. Structures dating from 1740 through the present can be found in a relatively small area of the township.

The purpose of the Historic Preservation Advisory Board is to identify, record and maintain a system for survey and inventory of all building sites, places and landmarks and structures of historical or architectural significance based on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation. The powers and duties of the Cranford Historical Preservation Advisory Board are available by accessing the Code of the Township of Cranford (Chapter 6-40.19). The Cranford Historical Preservation Advisory Board meets on the last Thursday of every month where submissions for inclusion as inventory of Cranford's historic places are reviewed at that time.

Historic Houses and Buildings of Cranford

The Crane-Phillips House

Crane-Philips House
Cranford Historical Preservation Advisory Board is located in New Jersey
Location: 125 N. Union Avenue
Cranford, New Jersey
Coordinates: 40°39′27″N 74°17′26″W / 40.6575°N 74.29056°W / 40.6575; -74.29056Coordinates: 40°39′27″N 74°17′26″W / 40.6575°N 74.29056°W / 40.6575; -74.29056
Area: }
Governing body: Local
NRHP Reference#: [1]
NJRHP #: [2]
Added to NRHP: August 14, 1997

The Crane-Phillips House is a Victorian cottage in the architectural style of Andrew Jackson Downing, the first American architect. The Crane-Phillips House, now a museum offers visitors a rare glimpse of what life was like for a modest family in the Victorian era of opulence. It illustrates the late 19th century as the era of invention and highlights inventions that changed everyday life for the average person by way of the house's second owners, the Phillips family. Henry Phillips was one of the first inventors of the modern kitchen range hood and his brother, Dr. Charles H. Phillips, was the inventor of Phillips Milk of Magnesia.

"The Little House on the Rahway", as the Crane-Phillips House is known, was first built about 1840 by Josiah Crane as a honeymoon cottage for his son, Josiah Jr. The Crane's were the first settlers to come to the area in the early 18th century (1715), build mills on the river and establish a farm on the west side of the Rahway River. Josiah Crane Jr. sold the property in 1867 to Henry and Cecelia Phillips, who lived there until Henry's death in 1911. It was Mr. and Mrs. Phillips who built most of the cottage in the Downing style.

The Cranford Historical Society has been in the middle of a major restoration project to restore the museum to much the way it looked in the late 19th century, modernize and upgrade, and create new and better permanent exhibits including an authentic late 19th century kitchen. The project's completion will transform the "Little House" into a living history museum where costumed docents help bring visitors back in time. The museum will continue to feature permanent and changing exhibits that depict three centuries of local history as it relates to the history of New Jersey and the nation.

The Crane-Phillips House features an outstanding collection of Native American artifacts, American Revolutionary War and American Civil War artifacts, other arms and armaments, 19th century tools and farm implements, a charming little Victorian parlor and "Kate's room", a Victorian girl's bedroom circa 1870. Changing exhibits include major displays from the Society's extensive antique clothing collection.

The Crane-Phillips House Museum is on the National and State Register of Historic Places and was named an "American Treasure" by the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1999. [3]

The Sperry Homes

The Pierson House

The Pierson House, also known as the Crane House at 420 Riverside Drive. It is one of the best known houses in Cranford. Here the major clue is probably the house’s proximity (like the Klein House to the Old York Road) to a major artery of colonial travel. In this case, the artery is Crane’s Ford, a shallow and thus important stretch of the Rahway River. It was easily traversable on horseback during colonial days, and the Pierson House, built circa 1740, was probably put there to keep an eye on it.

The Pierson house started life as a 1½ story wood structure, probably not that much different than those we’ve seen so far, but the original has disappeared under generations of renovations. The most recent, in 1929, restored the Pierson house to the correct time period, the middle 18th century, although on a much more grandiose scale. Inside, the original basement walls, some of the beams, and several of the pegged oak floor boards of the 1740 house remain, but on the whole, the Pierson House serves as a quintessential example of one of the unshakable laws of architecture; nothing exists in a vacuum.

The Pierson house today is a private residence, owned and occupied by members of the Crane family. Repairs to the property are underway due to flood damage from Hurricane Irene.

Norris Oakley House

The Norris-Oakey House at 1119 Orange Avenue. First built in 1750, and then in 1820 single-handedly transformed into the best surviving example of Cranford’s first definitive architecture, the Federal style. The windows tell the story here. These are the smaller, squatter ones of the left hand side which remain from the original East Jersey Cottage. Imagine the far right-hand one is the door. When the house was enlarged, the old door became a window and a new door, probably like this one, complete with a row of federal-style ornamental sidelights, was added. The taller, more elegant windows, here on the 1820 addition, begin to look like ones on fashionable houses being built in the larger cities and towns of the new republic. So to keep up with what of the Federal style has trickled down to this predominately rural area, the old side gets another full story and a half, as shown by the knee windows under the eaves. Speaking of eaves, they are a Federal trait as are the ornamentations underneath called dentils, although these here are reproductions. The overall effect is a bit more sophisticated, a bit more classical, than the humble cottages and farmhouses in the area. Carried over from England in the books and works of architects Robert and John Adam in the late 18th century, Federalism takes its cues from buildings of ancient Pompeii which had just been excavated during the Adams’ time. It is characterized by an imposing rigidity, relieved here and there by curves and a certain airiness not found in earlier high-styled buildings of the Georgian period. The trickling-down effect of any style leads to the term vernacular, so while although the Norris-Oakey House is hardly a triumph of textbook Federalism, it is a good rendering of what a few 1820 people out in the country, with their ears to the ground could come up with.

See also


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ "New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places - Union County". NJ DEP - Historic Preservation Office. July 7, 2009. p. 19. 
  3. ^ "Cranford: Images in America", Robert Fridlington, Arcadia Publishing; 1995.

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