The Wortendyke Barn
13 Pascack Road
Park Ridge, NJ 07656
(201) 930-0124 (in season)/(201) 336-7267
Open: Seasonal April-October
Fee: Free (concerts are free)
The Wortendyke Barn Museum, a National Register landmark, is all that remains of the original Wortendyke family farm. The barn, built circa 1770, is an outstanding example of the vernacular architecture referred to as a “New World Dutch Barn”, which could be found throughout 18th and 19th century Bergen County. Most were built between 1624 and 1820 wherever Dutch farmers settled along the Hudson, Hackensack, Passaic, Raritan and Mohawk rivers. Today there are probably fewer than 100 of these barns left in various states of use and repair.
It was completely made of local wood, down to the nails called trunnels. Massive anchor beams support by posts creating an H-Frame, support the entire structure. These beams in turn support the ‘pulin’ plates, which support the roof. These barns were wider than long with steep, sloping roofs and low sidewalls, which created large storage areas. Farmers were able to store a variety of crops, keep many animals in the side bays and store hay in the large, roomy lofts. Because they were raised off the ground on a sill, the wood plan floors could last for decades. Large entrances on both gable ends allowed for the efficient unloading of wagons.
The Wortendyke Barn’s Museum exhibits include handmade 18th and 19th Century farm implements and tools and the history of the Wortendyke family farm and exhibits showing the agricultural history of Bergen County from the first settlers through the 20th century. The Wortendyke family settled in northern New Jersey in 1735 and maintained the land as a working family farm for over 115 years. After 1851, the land was sold several items but the barn continued to be used for its original purpose until well into the 20th century.
At the time the barn was built, most of the families living in the Hackensack Valley were independent farmers some owning hundreds of acres of fertile farmland. People of Dutch ancestry were numerous in Bergen County, speaking Dutch in their homes and churches. The Wortendyke family settled in this area in 1735, when Fredrick Wortendyke Senior moved from Tappan, NY and purchased 465 acres in present day Woodcliff Lake and Park Ridge. The family home, a sandstone house originally built around 1750, still stand directly across the street from the barn.
The Wortendyke Barn in the Fall
From 1735 to 1851, from before the French and Indian War until nine years before the start of the Civil War, when the farm was sold, the land was maintained by the Wortendyke family as a working farm. After 1851, the land was sold several times. From 1960 until the middle of the 1980’s, the Pascack Historical Society displayed some of their collections in the barn showing it on occasion. After restoration was completed in 1997, Bergen County opened the barn as an accessible museum and County Historic site.
The site now contains the barn and landscaped property that surrounds it. The old family homestead is now a private home but you can still see it from across the street. Many of the Wortendyke family are buried in the Dutch Reformed Church up the road, so take some time to visit the cemetery when you are in the area. The whole area is just beautiful this time of the year with all the trees and flowers in bloom and the woody areas close by. The Pascack Historical Society is also right up the road so plan your day wisely.
During the Summer and early Fall months, they have a nice array of outdoor concerts on the lawn outside the barn. These usually take place on the last Sunday of the Month so please check the County of Bergen Website for details.
Also visit the Reformed Church up the road and the family homestead across the street while visiting the barn. You will see more of the family history in the homestead and in the family cemetery at the Church.
The Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historical Affairs publication is funded by a general operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a Division of the Department of State.
*Disclaimer: This information about the Wortendyke Barn Museum was taken directly from the Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historical Affairs pamphlet. The barn is a beautiful example of Dutch architecture and really should be visited in the Spring and Fall for the areas true beauty shines. Please call the above number and ask about extended hours, programming and accessibility for the disabled.-