PO Box 311
Dennisville, N.J. 08214-0311
Dennisville Historic Home Owners Association
Feature House For 2022
Captain Charles J. and Lydia Crawford House ca. 1852
The first video below was produced by Abby Margiotta, the owner’s niece, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of ownership of the Captain Charles J. and Lydia Crawford House by Jack Connolly and Jerry McManus (now deceased).
The second video is copied from the 2020 virtual Dennisville House Tour.
Captain Charles J. and Lydia Crawford House (c.1852) Owned by: Jack Connolly
From the Historical Perspective:
According to Ancestry.com, Charles married Lydia Goff on 7-17-1850. Captain Crawford purchased this land in 1851 for $110.00. The Captain Charles J. and Lydia Crawford House was built in 1852.
Charles Crawford was a Delaware Bay Captain who ferried goods back and forth between Philadelphia and Dennisville via the Delaware Bay / River. He spent many years at sea and, being a religious man, he always took his bible with him. His favorite Bible passages were marked with hair, dried flowers, and small coniferous branches. His Bible--"Charles Crawford’s Book" has been relocated through a family descendant, who currently lives in Dennisville. The Bible was "rebound" as opposed to being "restored" so as to keep his keepsake markers in place. It will be on display the night of the house tour.
While he was not at sea, the 1870 census records state that Captain Crawford, his wife Lydia and his 4 children along with Lydia’s father, Joseph, lived in this house. This was no mean feat as the original house was comprised of 1 room downstairs and 2 small rooms upstairs with no interior plumbing. The same year, the kitchen, which was originally not attached to the house, was built. After Captain Crawford’s death in 1878, according to a newspaper report, Lydia enlarged the house in 1881. The house remained in the Crawford / Wentzell families (Crawford’s daughter, Ella, married Levi Wentzell) until 1919 when it was sold to Paul Tomlinson of Millville, NJ for $700.00.
From the Personal Perspective:
In July 1988, the current owners purchased the house. The house was in deplorable condition: few windows or doors, floors that had more openings to the dirt than floor boards and holes in the roof and walls. Trees and shrubbery hid the house almost entirely from the street and the yard. In fact the house was slated for demolition and resale of the land.
The oldest part of the house includes the 1st floor dining room, 2nd floor bedroom and a bathroom (new in 1989). The next oldest part of the house is the 1870 kitchen. The next oldest part is the parlor with 1 bedroom above (western half of front block), which was added in 1881. In the years to follow, more additions were made including a lean to on the kitchen and a sun porch, most likely from the 1930's, which was rebuilt in 1990. A modern addition comprising a master bedroom suite, office, family room and laundry room was added in 1995 by the current owners.
The 1881 "parlor" contained a caged area below grade in which the previous owner's 2 monkeys were placed when company arrived. A co-employee of one of the current owners remembers seeing the monkeys from the school bus on the way to school past the house. Unfortunately when the current owners started their restorations of the house, they unearthed the remnants of the caged area and the skeletons of the 2 monkeys.
The original cooking fireplace in the dining room leaves only a visible hearth foundation under the floor. A later heating stove interior chimney, which replaced the fireplace, imploded during the late 1980's renovations by the current owners. Newer fireplaces and stoves now grace several rooms in the house. An authentic operating kitchen wood and coal cook stove is located in the kitchen and will be burning the night of the tour.
One of the earliest projects after closing in the house was the construction of a large 2 car garage. This served more as a place to store supplies, tools and furniture as work progressed on the house and the property in general. This work included the cleanup of the fallen in back porch, the cleanup of the remains of the outdoor shed/stable area which had been badly burned and the salvage of the original root cellar. This cellar has been converted to a beautiful Koi pond.
The original outhouse remains on the property and now serves as a garden shed. There are also 2 other outhouses which were brought into the property and serve as storage buildings.
The current owners' stewardship of the Captain Charles J. and Lydia Crawford house will help to insure a long standing history for this house within the Dennisville Historic District. Many years of hard work are reflected in this house’s "finished product". The house itself is a living documentary of how a house that was once slated for demolition was actually saved and lovingly restored to its present condition. They have tried to be as faithful to its original glory as possible not only by intermingling original materials and components with newer ones, but by a lot of TLC in hopes of giving this house at least another 161 year lifespan.
To donate to the Dennisville Historic Home Owners Association, Inc. and to support Historic Preservation efforts within the Dennisville Historic District, please mail your check to DHHOA, PO Box 311, Dennisville, NJ 08214-0311. The DHHOA is a 501(c)(3), tax exempt non-profit corporation and your donation is tax deductible. For income tax purposes, the DHHOA’s tax exempt identification # is 22-3087-061
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"Preserve what you have-you can never replace it." Jef Buehler, Main Street New Jersey, NJDCA