century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

View all members

Charles R. Crane

Iron Manufacturer/Ambassador

Centurion, 1895–1939

Full Name Charles Richard Crane

Born 7 August 1858 in Chicago, Illinois

Died 15 February 1939 in Palm Springs, California

Buried Woods Hole Village Cemetery, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Proposed by George Haven Putnam and Edward Cary

Elected 6 April 1895 at age thirty-six

Archivist’s Note: Brother-in-law of Frank Rattray Lillie

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

At any time during the forty-four years of Charles R. Crane’s membership in the Century, this traveller, lover of mankind, intimate of presidents, and indiscreet diplomat was likely to appear at the club-house bubbling over with fascinating, private information on some remote nonentity or celebrity or on some phase of human life in China, Illinois, Russia, New England, Arabia, California, Egypt, and intervening points.

His detailed precise information was astounding. A Centurion, at two o’clock of a frosty morning in the Providence railroad station, once found Crane consuming a dish of oyster stew. “I always arrange my schedule,” said Crane, “to stop over at this station to enjoy one of these—the best oyster stew in the world!”

Among his countless exploits were the financing on the Bowery of the troupe of Russian players headed by the gifted and not quite forgotten actor Nazimoff; the purchase and preservation of lovely old “Westover,” the Byrd mansion on the James River (an 1863 painting of which, by Centurion Edward L. Henry, has long hung in the club-house); the reform of theatre construction in this and other countries following the Iroquois Theatre fire; the setting up of a fund of more than a million dollars for the Institute of Current World Affairs; the exploration, in his sixty-ninth year, of the little known eastern shore of the Red Sea; the material encouragement of the work of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole; the collection of examples of Near East art which he showed and lectured on at the club-house; and an interview, in 1933, with Adolph Hitler, whose “gestures and point-blank statements”—and nothing else—reminded him of Centurion Theodore Roosevelt.

Geoffrey Parsons
1939 Century Memorials