by Paul Axel-Lute
Lucy Stone, public speaker, suffragist, and abolitionist, moved to Orange, New Jersey in April 1857 and lived there for about one year. Her house there became famous as the site of her protest against taxation without representation.
The purchase of the property is recorded in a deed from Franklin Woods to Lucy Stone, dated April 1, 1857, found in Essex County Deeds book F10 at page 529. The lot was approximately one acre in size, with frontage of 147 feet on Hurlbut Street. It cost $5,000, and was subject to two mortgages amounting to $2,100. Stone described the house as "a Gothic cottage," and noted that it was 75 feet from the road and was surrounded by fruit and ornamental trees, "guarded by one venerable old apple-tree."
Stone's husband, Henry Brown Blackwell, was away on business during most of the time that she lived in Orange, while she dealt alone with the care of the house and its garden, the burdens of pregnancy, and the care of their infant daughter. (He was at home for the occasion of the birth, on September 14, 1857.)
Upon receiving the tax bill on her home, Stone returned it to the Orange tax collector unpaid, giving as her reason "that women suffer taxation, and yet have no representation, which is not only unjust to one-half the adult population, but is contrary to our theory of government." (Her letter is quoted at greater length in the book by Elinor Rice Hays, Morning Star, at p.153, and the full text appears in Jersey Journeys, No.5, March 1998, published by the New Jersey Historical society.) In order to satisfy the tax, some of her household goods were seized and sold at public auction, on January 22, 1858. (It is said that they were purchased by a friendly neighbor and returned to Stone.)
In May 1858, ill and in financial difficulties, Stone made arrangements to rent out her house, and went to stay with her mother in Massachusetts. According to Kerr (p.108-110), Stone and Blackwell "moved back into Stone's small home in Orange" in mid-August 1858, shortly thereafter purchased a house with 20 acres in Bloomfield,N.J., but lived in Chicago and Evanston, Illinois from the fall of 1858 until the summer of 1859, when they returned to New Jersey and "settled into their home" (it is not clear which home is meant). According to Wheeler (Loving Warriors, p. 185-186), when Stone and Blackwell returned to New Jersey in summer 1859 they "moved into another house next door to the first one in Orange," before they moved to the 20-acre site in West Bloomfield (now Montclair). Both sources indicate that Blackwell had real estate offices in Orange and New York, and that Stone often took charge of the Orange office while Blackwell was in New York.
The "house next door" would have been on the lot that Henry Brown Blackwell had purchased June 29, 1857, from Charles Fairbanks on Hurlburt Street, adjoining Stone's lot on the north. (Essex Co. Deeds G10:152). This lot was sold by Blackwell and Stone on September 10,1861, to Ross C. Browning (Essex Co. Deeds N11:261).
The original Stone property was sold by Stone and Blackwell on August 17, 1858, to Fannie A. Judson, for $6,000, still subject to the two mortgages amounting to $2,100. (Essex Co. Deeds Q10:80).
Hurlbut Street was only one block long, running east-west from Center Street to Cone Street (now Day Street). On Plate 8 of Robinson's Atlas of Essex County (1890), the property which had been Lucy Stone's is that marked "Mrs. A. Stephens," at numbers 4 through 12 Hurlbut Street, with the Stone house being the one at No.8. On Plate 11 of the Atlas of the Oranges (1911), the house is seen on lot number 69, owned by Charles Ippolito, and the house number has changed to 16.
In 1915, a bronze plaque was mounted at the house, with this inscription composed by Oswald Garrison Villard: "In 1858 Lucy Stone, a noble pioneer in the emancipation of women, here first protested against their taxation without representation in New Jersey." The plaque was unveiled by Stone's daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, whose book states that a thousand suffragists were present for the ceremony. (It also states, erroneously, that the house was on Cone Street)
On a Sanborn map from around 1921, the house is called the Roma Circle Club House; this map has two sets of house numbers, indicating that the number changed again from 16 to 258.
The New York Times, on March 18, 1956, noted that the house at 258 Hurlbut Street, known as the "Boston Bay of American Womanhood," was to be demolished that spring, the property having been acquired by Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church for use as a parking lot and a new convent. Hurlbut Street is now part of Freeway Drive East (which runs along the south side of Interstate Route 280), and the site of the Lucy Stone House is now occupied by the convent, built in 1958, at number 264, and the parking area behind it. That block of Freeway Drive East is also known as Capuchin Way.
Atlas of the Oranges (Philadelphia: A.H.Mueller, publisher, 1911), plate 11
Blackwell, Alice Stone, Lucy Stone: Pioneer of Woman's Rights (Little, Brown,1930), p. 193-196
Hays, Elinor Rice, Morning Star: A Biography of Lucy Stone (Octagon Books, 1978), p.148-155.
Kerr, Andrea Moore, Lucy Stone: Speaking Out for Equality (Rutgers Univ. Press, 1992), p.101-110
Loving Warriors: Selected Letters of Lucy Stone and Henry B. Blackwell, 1853 to 1893, edited & introduced by Leslie Wheeler (Dial Press, 1981), p.168-171, 173-174, 178-179, 181-182, 185-186.
Robinson's Atlas of Essex County, New Jersey (New York:1890), plate 8
Sanborn Map Co., fire insurance map (circa 1921)
Sherr, Lynn & Kazickas, Jurate, The American Woman's Gazetteer (Bantam, 1976), p.153
"Suffragist's Home Doomed in Jersey," New York Times, March 18, 1956, p.118, col.5