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Cranford Historical Society Marks its 90th Anniversary

Credits: The Cranford Historical Society
Credits: The Cranford Historical Society

It’s been an honor for me to be President of this fantastic non-profit organization for the past six years.  We have a wonderful Board of Trustees: Mary Wade, Vice President; Charles Goodfellow, Treasurer; John Dreyer, Chairman of the Board, William Curtis, Nancy Bender, Linda Bristow, Barbara Klaus, Christine Glazer, Pat Pavlak, Jean Kreiling, Jean Pascarella, Vic Bary Lori Hoffner, Louise Engstrom and our part-time Office Administrator, together we work as a team to preserve and perpetuate the history of Cranford.

This year marks the 90th Anniversary of the founding of the Cranford Historical Society on February 11, 1927 by a group of Cranford citizens in preserving and perpetuating the history of our fantastic town.  These citizens worked endlessly researching the history of Cranford finding old maps, collecting documents and photographs, etc.  They formed a Board of Trustees and would have their meetings in each others’ homes or at the Union Junior College.  To raise money, they needed the support of the community, like we do, and started a membership drive for only $2.50 a year.  In 1929, the Township of Cranford acquired the “Little House” on North Union Avenue.  In 1932, the Township gave the Cranford Historical Society the front room to display their archival possessions.  Mrs. Fannie Crane Hopfensach gave tours of this house four days a week until 1962.

In 1962, the Trustees started to make repairs to the “Little House” which was renovated with a half bathroom and kitchen facilities.  Support beams were placed in the basement.  The archival wing was added through the generosity of the Cranford Junior Service League and the “Little House” became a museum called the Crane-Phillips House Museum named after the two previous owners of the house.

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In 1964, the Cranford Historical Society placed a plaque commemorating the Pepperidge Tree called “Old Peppy” dated 200 years at that time.

In 1964, in celebration of New Jersey’s 300th anniversary, Trustee Homer Hall wrote a book called “300 Years at Crane’s Ford.”  This book shows the areas background in the days when Indians were its only inhabitants.  Also in 1964, the Cranford Historical Society discovered during the Revolutionary War, the militia assembled and crossed the Rahway River to join troops fight the “Battle of Springfield.”  The Cranford Historical Society also discovered the first school house in Cranford was located at the corner of South Union Avenue and Lincoln Avenue West.

In 1995 and 1996, the late Trustee and Curator Robert Fridlington and the late Past President and Trustee Larry Fuhro wrote two books for the Images of America series; Images of Cranford and Images of Cranford Volume II. Larry Fuhro also drew a map of Cranford in the early years. Maps and books are sold at the Hanson House office or at the Crane-Phillips House Museum.

More of the achievements of the Cranford Historical Society are:

Recordings of the Oral History of Cranford were recently put on CD’s.

Annual historic tours and visits by third graders and scouts of Cranford are given at the Crane-Phillips House Museum to show what life was like in the 1870’s without plumbing and electricity in Cranford.

The Cranford Historical Society has a newsletter called “The Mill Wheel” which is mailed to members five times a year.

All our free programs both for children and adults are held twice a month at the Crane-Phillips House Museum or the Hanson House.


In 1990, the Township of Cranford leased the Hanson House located at 38 Springfield Avenue to the Cranford Historical Society for their headquarters.  The Cranford Historical Society maintains the Hanson House and Crane-Phillips House museum under the leadership of the President and Board of Trustees.  The Cranford Historical Society maintains these two historical homes through grants, donations and membership dues.  Our dues now have risen from the start of $2.50 to now $15, $25, $50 or $100 of your choice.  We are always looking for new members.  If you are not a member, we cordially invite you to do so.


For many years, the Cranford Historical Society has restored the Hanson House and the Crane-Phillips House Museum. 


At the Crane-Phillips House Museum, Boy Scouts earned their Eagle Scout Award; one for building us an “Outhouse” and one for building a picket fence and arbor.  This fence separates the Victorian flower garden from the historic tool garden which years before were done by an Eagle Scout to showcase them and also our stone garden.  Another Boy Scout built a kiosk depicting historic sites in town located at Grey’s Funeral Home. A Girl Scout Troop built a vegetable garden bin so we could plant vegetable for our annual “Four Centuries in a Weekend” program for visitors to see.  A Girl Scout working on her gold award set up a monitor downstairs so that visitors unable to climb the steep steps to the second floor can view the two bedrooms.  The Cranford Historical Society also honored the Civil War by presenting programs to honor the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.  In addition, the Cranford Historical Society participates in the Cranford Memorial Day Parade every year.


The Cranford Historical Society has achieved so much through the years.  Our fundraisers in addition to receiving grants from Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey Historic Preservation Commission, donations from the community and membership dues have enabled us to achieve all that we have done and there is still more to do to continue to preserve and perpetuate the history of Cranford for future generations.


We had a food drive last year for Cranford Family Care at our Ice Cream Social which was a success.  The Cranford Historical Society also has the Cranford High School History Award Scholarship fund which is given to a Senior High School student every year.  We also train high school students to become docents at the museum to help our Trustees give tours. 


The Hanson House office is opened Monday and Tuesday from 9:30am to 11:30am and Monday through Thursday from 3:30pm to 5:30pm for the community to research their homes or have questions about the history of Cranford.  We have helped Cranford residents research their homes, some historic and some not.


In 2017, the Cranford Historical Society will be celebrating our 90th Anniversary at the “Moonlight Gala” on Saturday, September 16th, 2017 from 7:00pm to 10:00pm at Dreyer Farms on Springfield Avenue in Cranford.  This celebration is opened to our members and the community at a price of $35.00 per person.  R.S.V.P. by August 31st, 2017.  Flyers with attached remittance form will be in our newsletter, at the Cranford Library, Dreyer Farms and the Hanson House office and on our website.  If you would like to attend please fill out the invitation remittance form with your check made payable to the Cranford Historical Society and mail it to the Cranford Historical Society, 38 Springfield Avenue, Cranford NJ 07016. 



We will have a buffet table consisting of wine, cheese, fruit, shrimp, stuffed clams, eggplant parmesan on Italian bread topped with mozzarella cheese, cake, coffee, tea, soda and water.  There will be raffle baskets, a 50/50 raffle, a silent auction basket and door prize.  Music will be supplied by Tom Langmaark if you wish to dance under the moonlight.


Hope everyone will come out to celebrate with us on this historic 90th anniversary at historic Dreyer Farms. 


Proceeds benefit the Cranford Historical Society’s History Award Scholarship fund, maintenance of the Hanson House and Crane-Phillips House Museum and grounds.


I mentioned previously, the Society participates every year in “Union County’s Four Centuries in a Weekend” this year on Saturday, October 21, 2017 from 10:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 from 12:00pm to 5:00pm.  Our theme is Cranford Historical Society 90th Anniversary Celebration and to emphasize our anniversary we will be placing 90th anniversary stickers in each Four Centuries passports and giving out 90th anniversary pencils.  We hope all visitors and school students will come out to celebrate with us during this historic anniversary which will take place at the Crane-Phillips House Museum, 124 North Union Avenue, Cranford, NJ.

 Any questions please call our office at 908-276-0082 or email us at

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