Crane House, 1817 and Howell Cabinet Shop, 1831
The side-hall dwelling house at 22 Church Street was constructed in 1817 for Reverend Elias Winans Crane. He was born at Elizabethtown, New Jersey, on March 18, 1796. He graduated the College of New Jersey in 1814 and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1817. On October 17, 1814,E. Winans Crane of Elizabethtown succeeded Charles Morford (who died September 20, 1814) as principal of the Newton Academy. Reverend Crane held this position until April 10, 1820, when the Academy trustees announced the engagement of Bernard O’ Kelly as principal. In August 1817, John Johnson sold Lot #2 of the Meadow Lots to Elias Winans Crane (1796-1840) and his wife, Hannah Margaretta (Johnson). This side-hall, Federal townhouse was built in 1817.

Elias W. Crane married Hannah Margaretta Johnson, a daughter of John and Hannah (Roy) Johnson, on September 12, 1819. Reverend Crane, D. D., became pastor at Springfield, New Jersey, in 1820 and at Jamaica, Long Island, in 1826. He became a director of Princeton Theological Seminary in 1836. Elias Crane died November 10, 1840.

In January 1831, Elias W. Crane deeded his house lot on Church Street to Lewis Howell. William Butler, housewright, built the vernacular Creek Revival, two and-a-half-story shop and dwelling at 24 & 24-1/2 Church Street for Lewis Howell in 1831. Such front gabled houses not only suited the prevailing taste for mimicking the pedimented form of Greek temples, but were well suited to narrow lots between other buildings. As was the custom of the times, this example served as residence and workshop. According to advertisements published in the Sussex Register, John Kraber came to Newton in April 1834 and took Judge Howell’s cabinet shop, next to the Sussex Bank. In April 1835, Ladner Trusdell and Samuel Griggs, chairmakers, opened a shop in the building next door to the Sussex Bank, lately built by Lewis Howell.

On August 6, 1883, the Court of Chancery authorized Martin Rosenkrans, guardian of Sarah M. Howell, to sell "the Two Houses and Lots situate on Church Street..." at public auction. On December 10, 1883, David R. Hull purchased the property for $1,900. On March 26, 1884, the Sussex Register reported: "Substantial improvements are being made to the houses on Church Street recently purchased by David R. Hull." In May 1885, Samuel Phyfe, grandson of cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe, purchased the Howell Dwelling and Shop at 24 Church Street, selling it to Oliver Steckel, Newton tobacconist, in April 1888. In October 1887, Hull sold the Crane House to Thomas Earl, an employee of the Rogers Locomotive Works in Paterson. In March 1920, Elizabeth Ball, mother and guardian of Sarah and Fred Earl, conveyed the Crane House at 22 Church Street to Annie Ryker, wife of contractor Edward Ryker. In October 1926, W. J. Decker, carpenter, added a two-story addition, 18' by 2S, to the rear.

In September 1933, Hart & Iliff Companies acquired title at Sheriff’s sale. Charles Iliff, owner of the building and head of the Newton Better Housing Committee, used the old Crane House as a model to show how modernization could increase property values "in greater proportion than the cost involved." In April 1935, the National Association of Real Estate Boards and a Cincinnati Realtor formally opened the house to the public as the "Half and Half’ house, allowing visitors to view the progress of renovation. The interior was redesigned for two apartments.

In August 1948, Hart & Iliff sold to Gladys Smale of Newton, a music teacher. In June 1954, she sold to Doctor Ralph Alford of Montclair, New Jersey.

Copyright 2000 Kevin W. Wright. All rights reserved.