In 1920, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Montclair-North Essex opened a YWCA in the Israel Crane House. Alice Hooe Foster, the first African-American graduate of Montclair High School is credited with its founding. Foster worked with women from St. Luke’s Church to organize Montclair’s YWCA branch.
The YWCA used the house for offices, dormitories, and as a social center for African American women until 1965. It became a safe, respectable place for domestic servants to stay when then arrived in Montclair looking for work and a civic and social hub for African American women. Says Carrie Allen McCray in her book Freedom’s Child, “When we were young, the colored YWCA was located in a wonderful old house known as the Crane house. We knew every nook and cranny of that old house, which wrapped itself around us like a comforting blanket.”
The Israel Crane House was home to the YWCA for 45 years. In 1965, the YWCA decided it needed more space and wanted to demolish the house to make way for a new facility that would suit its needs.