The Easton Tower
Red Mill Road
Route 4 & Saddle River Road
Paramus, NJ 07652
I recently visited the Easton Tower on a beautiful sunny day and it really is a treat to see. It is located on the Saddle River Bike Path, so you can access it from the other side of the park and park on that side of the road for easy access. After seeing the tower, take a walk up and down the Saddle River Bike Path. It is really beautiful to follow the river on a nice day. It is really picturesque and a wonderful place to take pictures and enjoy nature.
This information is provided by the Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs:
The Easton Tower is a unique historic site in Bergen County, NJ. This stone and wood frame structure was built along the Saddle River in 1900 as part of a private landscaped park in the Arcola area Paramus. Surrounded by busy NJ roadways, it is now adjacent to the County’s Saddle River Bikeway.
Once used to pump water to irrigate and provide a scenic setting for the estate of Edward Easton, it is a 20 foot rectangular, stone-masonry tower topped with a wood-frame structure and a wood-shingle, gabled roof. On the side is a large wood water wheel, which is under a wood-shingle roof. The architect Henry Ihnen designed it.
In the 18th century, this area along the Saddle River and near the heavily used Albany Post Road, was the location of many mills. Jacob Zabriskie, a Bergen County Freeholder during the Revolutionary War had leased the 80 acre mill site around 1766 and in 1771 acquired the mill that had been built in the 1740’s. Revolutionary maps identify it as “Demarest’s and Zabriskie’s Mills.” Over time it was rebuilt or expanded and in the early 1800’s painted red by its owner Albert Westerfelt. It is at this time it acquired the “Red Mill” name often mistakenly applied to Easton Tower. By the 1800’s, the mill had fallen into disrepair and was demolished circa 1894.
In 1899, Edward D. Easton (1856-1915), bought this almost 48 acre site, which included the mill pond and dam. The area was called “Arcola”. Easton’s father, a teacher, had originally brought his young family to this area and suggested the name for the new settlement after a town in Italy. Edward Easton was a notable figure in American technological history. He started out as a stenographer, reporter and then a court stenographer In Washington DC, covering many famous trials in the 1880’s. After the 1886 patent was granted for the method of engraving sound by incising wax cylinders, Easton went on to make his fortune in the recording industry. He was a founder and eventually president of the Columbia Phonograph Company, which became one of the three major recording companies at the turn of the twentieth century.
After opening an office in New York City, Eaton relocated his family from Washington DC to Arcola. He had a large house built on his property and commissioned the design of a landscaped park. The tower, to be built neat the site of the old Red Mill was a functioning structure pumping water to several fountains. There were also rustic bridges, lakes and expansive lawns. The tower was a favorite of photographers and appears in many contemporary postcards. People came from miles around to this beautiful spot to take boat rides and walks and in the winter, ice skate near the tower. Sources list the Easton home and park as having been used in early silent films.
After Easton’s death in 1915, the property went through various owners. In 1931, construction of the Route 208 connection with Route 4 at “the Old Mill at Arcola” provided access to the recently opened George Washington Bridge. This destroyed sections of the landscaped park and isolated the tower. In 1940, the 1.26 acres site was sold at a sheriff’s sale to Clyde A. Bogert. The County acquired the tower from the Bogerts and the Blauvelt-Demarest Foundation in 1956. In 1967, the Bergen County Park Commission dedicated the tower. Easton Tower was placed on the State and National Register of Historic Places and in 2008 was completely restored by the County. It can be viewed from the Saddle River Bikeway and visited year round.
Disclaimer: This information is taken from the Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs (C) 2015 pamphlet. The Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.
Special Note: I visited the site recently and it is hard to get to by car. It is located right off Saddle River Road and it is off on a odd bend in the road. It is a quick turn to the right so pay attention to the directions.