BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
For the last 25 years, the Garden Club of Montclair has taken on the task of decorating the Crane House and Historic YWCA during the holiday season for tours. The home was built in 1796 by Israel Crane and his wife, Fanny Pierson Crane.
This year, it has been nominated for a 2020 USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice Travel Award for “Best Holiday Home Tour,” it was announced last week by USA Today. The Crane House, later the historic YWCA, was one of 18 museums in the United States nominated for this award by a panel of nationally recognized travel experts for the USA Today travel award series, which celebrates destinations, attractions and experiences. The Crane House and Historic YWCA’s competition for the award includes historic homes like the Newport Breakers, the Biltmore, Monticello and Graceland.
Crane built the home on Glenridge Avenue at the age of 21. By the standards of the day, it was considered a mansion; it was located on 86 acres of farmland.
“The story goes that many people thought Crane was a bit crazy. How could such a young man afford such a fancy house? Crane, however, was an astute businessman and soon grew into the house. The house was the Crane family home for over 100 years,” the Montclair History Center says.
In 1920, African American women in the community purchased the home as headquarters for a YWCA, a segregated space. It was a significant part of the African American community for four decades. By 1965, the YWCA needed a new building, and local preservationists saved the house, moved it to its present location at 110 Orange Road and turned it into a museum. It has since been preserved.
The museum will offer a candlelight tour on Wednesday, Dec. 9, as Montclair History Center docents tell the history of the holidays from the 1700s to the 20th century. Prepackaged treats will be available to enjoy around a campfire at the end. Tours are available every 15 minutes between 4 and 8 p.m. Only five people will be allowed on each tour. Face masks will be required.
Private tours can also be booked throughout December.
The Montclair History Center is asking visitors, fans and supporters to cast their vote for the Crane House and Historic YWCA as part of the public voting process to select a winner. Everyone is invited to vote once per day through Monday, Dec. 7, at noon.
The 10 winning home tours will be announced on Friday, Dec. 18. Vote from the website montclairhistory.org.