The Ichabod Crane House (demolished 1989)
Ichabod Crane House, 3525 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island (demolished 1989)
The Ichabod Crane House
was originally built in the early nineteenth Century by Ozais Ansley as a small 1 1/2 story farmhouse. Ichabod Bennett Crane
(born New Jersey, 1787-1857), a career officer in the United States Army, bought this building and its surrounding five acres in 1854. It was during the war of 1812 that Crane had been stationed at Sacketts Harbor on Lake Ontario, where he helped construct Fort Pike. In 1814, New York Gov. Daniel D. Tompkins
(Staten Island’s own), who also served as acting Commander of the Northern Department during the war, visited the Fort for an inspection. One of Tompkins’s aides was none other than author Washington Irving
and is most likely the only time the two men met. Irving must have fancied Crane’s unique name, as he used it for of the meek schoolteacher in his 1820 story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
; the only similarity being in name: while the character in his book was very tall, frail, and lanky, Col. Crane was tall, robust and stocky. It was said that the Colonel was none too pleased with Irving for affixing his good name to this timid literary character.
Upon retiring to Staten Island in 1854 (but still considered to be on Active Duty), Crane had the Ansley farmhouse greatly enlarged and remodeled in a vernacular Gothic Revival style. Up until the time of documentation in the 1980′s, the house retained a fair amount of its gothic detailing including spires, decorative bargeboards, window drop moldings, arch topped attic windows and granite foundation. Significant interior features included a graceful center hall staircase, paneling under windows, seven fireplaces and plaster cornices.
Col. Crane died October 5, 1857 and is buried in a nearby cemetery. The house remained in the crane family until 1882. When it was sold by Dr. Charles Crane to Robert Ferguson of Travis whose family owned and occupied the house until 1966, when it was sold to developers (naturally).
Documentation of the Ichabod Crane house was undertaken during the winter and spring of 1988 by the Friends of Ichabod Crane and the Preservation League of Staten Island as part of an initial plan to save the building from planned demolition by moving the structure. Insufficient funds to facilitate such a move led to the decision by the Preservation League to use the funds and documentation previously gathered to prepare a set of measured drawings. Field notes were taken by Russell Powell and Conrad Fingado of Island Housewrights. Corp. Drawings were prepared by Russell Powell, Bret Morgan, Damon Holness and Andrea Kuo with guidance from the Washington D. C. Historic American Building Survey staff. The Crane house was demolished in March 1989 .
Illustrations: HABS, National Park Service