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Facing east onto Mica Hill Road, the Crane homestead is surrounded by land once actively farmed. Some modern development has occurred in the immediate neighborhood which is encompassed by open fields.
Original features include the hewn double overhangs, which are characteristic of area architecture of this period. The off-center facade door is protected by a hip-roofed
portico supported by square posts. An exterior brick chimney has been added to the south elevation. Modern four-over-four sash are featured on the first floor and the
original twelve-over-twelve windows remain on the second floor. The small off-center window placed above the entranceway exhibits a six-over-six sash. A small shed-roofed
portico covers a south elevation entrance door. A large number of farm-related outbuildings are located on the property.
This 2 1/2 story, 3-bay, center-chimney colonial-period house was built between 1730 and 1755. Topped by a steeply-pitched, ridge-to-street gable roof, the clapboarded post-and-beam frame rests on a sandstone foundation.
While the early history of this house is obscure, we know Jesse Crane (1732-1794) lived here in the mid-eighteenth century and it is quite possible that he inherited the house from his father, Sergt. Silas Crane (1707-1763). Silas was the son of Henry Crane, one of Durham’s earliest proprietors, who settled in the southern portion of town which had been originally a portion of Killingworth and Guilford. Silas, a farmer and a member of the First Ecclesiastical Society, married Mercey Griswold in 1729. Upon his death in 1763 Silas left his dwelling house and homelot to be divided among his seven sons: Jesse, Silas, Robert, Eli, Flood, Frederick, and Nathan. In the distribution of Silas’s estate his widow Mercey received the entire home lot with dwelling house, and upon her death in 1782 it is possible that she willed it to her eldest son Jesse. A farmer like his father, Jesse and his wife Mary had one son, Lament, who died as a young child. Leaving no heirs, Jesse willed his entire estate to his newphew Nathan Crane. Nathan (b. 1772) was the son of Eli and Mehitabel (Chapman) Crane. Upon inheriting his uncle’s large estate in 1796, he caused some conflict within the family. In January of 1796 an appeal was filed in Middletown Superior Court by 21 of Nathan Crane’s relatives including aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, and brothers. The appeal asked the court to disregard the will and distribution of Jesse Crane’s estate and to appoint Frederick Crane, the younger brother of the deceased, to replace Nathan as administrator. The appeal was denied and Nathan retained ownership of the farm. In 1813 Nathan migrated to Westmoreland, New York, and sold the property to Hamlet Hickox. Guernsey Bates purchased the house shortly thereafter,and in 1839 Dennis Camp took title to the property as repayment of a debt. A farmer, Henry E. Nettleton acquired the “Crane Farm” in 1841. The son of Eliphaz and Lydia Nettleton, Henry E. (1807-1887) was educated in Durham’s district schools. As a young man he worked in marble quarries in both Connecticut and New York before returning home to Durham to farm. In 1839 he married Cornelia Camp, by whom he had four children: Rose, Frances, Henry Isiah, and Sabina. Mr. Nettleton, primarily a cattle and dairy farmer, also supplemented his income by charcoal burning. Active in the Democratic Party, he served as a town selectman for many years. In 1868 Henry E. sold the “Crane Farm” to his son Henry Isiah Nettleton, who became one of Durham’s “most substantial and influential farmers.” Henry Isiah (1847-1920) was educated in local schools and later attended the school of Daniel H. Chase in Middletown. A leading member of the Connecticut Pomological Society, Nettleton was well-known for his pioneer work in fruit growing. Successful in peach and berry farming, the Nettletons also operated a dairy farm. Henry I. married Rosetta Miller (1852-1923) of Middlefield. A member of the Methodist Church, Nettleton was also a member of the Durham Grange and served as tax collector for a number of years. In 1921 the farm was sold to the Banta family, who retain ownership today.
The Crane homestead derives its significance as one of Durham’s best architectural representatives from the first half of the eighteenth century. Historically the house
is important for its association with the Crane and Nettleton families.