Stephen Crane's Port Jervis on display
Photo exhibit highlights famous author’s local connections
PORT JERVIS — The Port Jervis Free Library has just opened a permanent photographic exhibit on Stephen Crane, most famous for the American Civil War classic "The Red Badge of Courage."
Famous at age 23 and dead not five years later, the New Jersey-born writer was brought to Port Jervis in 1878, at age 6, by his father. After his father’s death in 1880, Crane lived in Port Jervis for another three years. Throughout his short life he moved from place to place, with Port Jervis the third of his homes. These five years were arguably the longest continuous span of time he'd ever lived in one place.
After ending a disinterested semester at Syracuse University, where he met a fellow student from Port Jervis, Crane began regularly visiting his childhood home. Camping in Pike County and tromping through the woods of Forestburgh in Sullivan County were among his favorite pastimes.
Crane’s Port Jervis area experiences led to the creation of his first published works of fiction — “Sullivan County Tales and Sketches” — and last pieces, “Whilomville Stories,” loosely based on his Port Jervis childhood.
There is no hard proof supporting local folklore that Crane's interactions with Port Jervis's Civil War veterans inspired "The Red Badge of Courage." But local historians say strong circumstantial evidence supports that belief.
Conceived, sponsored, and curated by local Crane authority Robert Eurich, owner of the community-oriented portjervisny.com website, the exhibit primarily uses photos from the archives of the Minisink Valley Historical Society to tell Crane’s story though images of Port Jervis as he would have known it.
The exhibit opened to the public on Nov. 1, in commemoration of Crane’s 145th birthday. It may be viewed anytime during the library’s normal business hours.
The Port Jervis Free Library is located at 138 Pike Street. The library opened in 1903 and is the only Andrew Carnegie library in Orange County.
For more information contact Eurich at 607-754-8335 or webmaster@PortJervisNY.com; or Beverly Arlequeeuw, Port Jervis Free Library Director, at 845-856-7313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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