The Hopper-Goetschius Museum
363 East Saddle River Road
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Open: Please check website for seasonal openings
The Hopper-Goetschius House Museum
I visited the Hopper-Goetschius House Museum during the 8th Annual Northwest Bergen History Coalition History Day. I had never been here before and it is a real treat. There are many buildings on the property to visit on top of the house and the fact that this was someone’s house into the 1980’s is pretty interesting.
The historic marker in front of the house
The Hopper property in April 2023 for the Northwest Bergen History Day
Christmas Open House December 2019:
The house still holds many secrets. The best part of the tour of the house is the secret stairs in the kitchen that lead to the old second floor. This can only accessed behind a panel that leads to a narrow set of steps. You can see it from the new second floor from the top floor.
I attended Holiday Celebration on December 8th, 2019 and it was a beautiful sunny day for an outside event. It was a really nice afternoon. They had a visit with Santa at the Dutch barn which was decorated with trees surrounding him and presents and a decorated Dutch sleigh. In the schoolhouse, there were all sorts of games and talks to enjoy.
Santa in the Dutch Barn at the Hopper museum
In the outside kitchen, there were chestnuts and fresh popcorn being made that you could munch on while walking around enjoying the festivities and the smells of the cooking food were mouthwatering. The gentleman doing the cooking was doing a demonstration on how the food was cooked and the amount of time it took to make things.
The outside buildings still had a bit of snow left
The inside of the house was decorated for the Victorian holidays with a nicely decorated tree in the Living Room and garland all over the place. There was a Victorian music box playing songs and a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” being read on the hour.
In the kitchen of the oldest part of the house, they served hot cider and homemade Christmas cookies of all kinds. They were also selling fresh homemade jam that one of the members made. The kitchen was decorated for the holidays as well. There was an open tour of the house and it was fun to see the upstairs decorated with all sorts of Victorian toys and dolls. The fee was a $5.00 donation and it happens every first week of December at the site.
The Hopper House kitchen
The house is a treasure trove of period furniture and family items and on the property there is a schoolhouse, a barn, a blacksmith shop and an outhouse. During the Summer months, the house is open for special tours on the weekends and in the Fall, they have a Harvest Festival and Christmas holiday events. The house is run and operated by the Upper Saddle River Historical Society.
The antique toys in the upstairs bedroom
In April of 2023, I returned to the Hopper-Goetschius House for the Northwest Bergen History Coalition Day for the event. It was a gloomy day with mist and rain but that did not put a damper on the event. There were lots of activities going on in each of the buildings.
My first stop was at the barn where the ladies were doing a demonstration on spinning thread and we had a conversation of where the expression “Pop goes the weasel” came from (from the spun threat reaching its max and then the machine made a ‘pop’ sound). The ladies were demonstrating the way women spun yarn and made clothes and the work that it entailed.
The yarn spinning demonstration at the Hopper Barn
The ladies explaining how the spinning works
‘Pop goes the weasel’, the weasel at the Van Riper-Tice Barn
When I left the barn, I went over to the school house building to see what was going on. A very bored volunteer took up all my time and would not leave me alone. She had to read from a script and take me all over the house. I just wanted to get out of there. Thank God another person walked in so that I could escape and see the rest of the property.
The Ramsey House was moved to the property to save it from destruction and the society has done a good job transform it to a turn of the century classroom. This is a surprising display in many historical societies as I am sure that people have donated so much of their childhood mementos.
The Ramsey House schoolroom
The teacher’s seat at the school room. Nothing has really changed.
The farm artifacts at the Ramsey House schoolhouse
After the tour of the Ramsey House, I took the tour of the main house again and its secrets. The Hopper House is a very interesting home as the owner did not want plumbing in the house. Up until 1963, she still used the well. She was forced by her nephew to get a modern bathroom. I thought this was strange that the woman did not want a bathroom. She still used the outhouse into the 1960’s.
The Hopper House kitchen
The home is decorated with all sorts of beautiful antique furnishes and decorations. The house is so well organized and the volunteers do such a nice job telling its story especially at the holidays. I visited all the rooms where the volunteers explained its purpose.
The bedroom upstairs
Bedroom Three in the upstairs loft of the house
My last part of the tour was visiting the Smokehouse right behind the house. The volunteers were cooking corn bread, homemade potato soup and biscuits in the fireplace. It was interesting to see how food was cooked on the farm in the days before modern kitchens. The two volunteers working there were so happy to see someone. They told me that no one wanted any soup. On a cold rainy and misty day, I was taking them up on it and it was really good! Talk about warming you up.
The Smoke House on the Hopper estate was cooking away that afternoon
The volunteers were making breads, biscuits and soup that afternoon that warmed me up
The delicious Potato Soup warmed me up on this rainy day
The delicious Corn Bread was cooked with bacon fat and tasted so good! I munched on most of this.
I finished eating and talking with the volunteers about all cooking they were doing. They told me that they were following the recipes that were from the late 1700’s that would have been cooked at the farmhouse at that time. It was a really interesting conversation we had on cooking. It was nice to eat something as well. I was starved at this point.
After the meal, I left to go to the next site. I felt for these volunteers. The Hopper House is off the beaten tract and they must have not gotten the visitors that the other homes had seen. Still it was a wonderful visit with members who care so much about the house and its grounds.
Upper Saddle River Historical Society:
The Upper Saddle River Historical Society was organized in 1977 to collect, preserve and distribute the history of the Upper Saddle River area. The Society is also responsible for the management and restoration of the Hopper-Goetschius House Museum located at 245 Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
The Hopper estate with the barn, school house and ice house in the distance
The Historical Society has over 500 members and is host to nearly 2000 museum visitors each year. The Society holds program meetings throughout the year along with special events such as a Spring Concert, a wonderful Harvest Fair in the fall and an Old Time Holiday Open House in December, featuring mulled cider with chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
The Museum is open for tours every Sunday during July & August from 2:00pm-4:00pm or by appointment. For group or individual tours contact: Althea Gardner @ (201) 327-7807 or Kay Yeoman @(201) 327-2236.
Hopper-Goetschius House Museum Restoration Fund Drive
USR Historical Society.org
Hopper Genealogy Info. http://www.reetree.com
(Upper Saddle River Historical Society)
The Hopper House entrance hall
The Hopper-Goetschius house on the corner of Lake Street and East Saddle River Road dates back to 1739. Built by the Hopper family, it is the oldest remaining house in Upper Saddle River. We know it existed in 1739 because it was recorded in surveyor Charles Clinton’s journal and possible it is older. Rosalie Fellows Bailey in her book on pre-Revolutionary Dutch houses, says it was marked as the home of Gerrit Hoppa on a rough sheepskin map made about 1713.
The Goetschius family, the second owners of the house
The house underwent several changes in the mid 1800’s. The large central chimney with back to back fireplaces was removed. Probably, with more modern forms of heating available such as wood stoves, the fireplace seemed a bit old-fashioned and the owners took it out. Besides, they wanted to use the entrance hall as a room, so the stairway along the east wall was removed and a central staircase added where the fireplaces had once been. The dormers were added in the Victorian era.
The Hopper house in 2023
The Hoppers farmed the land and had a lot of it by today’s standards. The property extended from the Saddle River (Lion’s Park) up the hill almost to Montvale and up the East Road to where Creative Gardens was located.
The antique dolls at the Hopper House bedrooms
In 1814, the house became the home of the Reverend Stephen Goetschius of the Old Stone Church. It remained in the Goetschius family for a century and a half, always a place of central importance in town as Stephen Goetschius, the great-great grandson of the Reverend Stephen, served as the borough clerk for over 40 years and conducted his town business from the east room of the house.
The Hopper House Living Room
The house was without running water until Stephen’s death in 1962. Until improvements were made at that time, Steve’s wife, Lizzie, as those before her, carried water from the well for washing, cooking and shoveled coal for heat.
The Hopper House Kitchn
In 1985, the Hopper-Goetschius house was presented to the Borough of Upper Saddle River by Clinton and Grace Carlough. Lizzie Goetschius, the last resident of the house was Clint Carlough’s aunt. The house today serves as a museum, run by the Upper Saddle River Historical Society and offers the public historically related events throughout the year.
The Hopper House Living Room
(Upper Saddle River Historical Society)
The property also contains:
*The Privy or Outhouse that was in use at the Hopper-Goetschius House until 1962 when plumbing was installed in the house.
Hopper House estate with all the important buildings
*The Ramsey Sayer house was moved to the grounds in 1999 to become part of the museum complex. This is the oldest existing from house in Upper Saddle River, a good example of a tenant house common on farms in this area. The Ramsey Sayer house belonged to William Ramsey, the grandfather of Kate Fisher Goetschius, mother of Steve Goetschius, who lived in the Hopper Goetschius house for many years.
The Ramsey-Sayre House now serves as the makeshift schoolhouse
The schoolhouse at the turn of the last century
The Native American artifact collection at the Schoolhouse
*The Van Riper-Tice Barn was erected about 1800 by the Van Riper Family on their farm on West Saddle River Road (near the Cultural Center). It was later owned for many years by Harmon Tice. In 1989, it was scheduled to be demolished to make way for a development, the Historical Society dismantled it, moved it to the Museum ground and had it restored and rebuilt on its present location.
The inside of the Van Riper-Tice Barn at the Hopper House estate
Winter transportation at the barn
The farming equipment display
The displays of wool at the Van Riper-Tice Barn
*Snake Fence: a zig-zag fence of split rails once common in this area was added in the property north of the Van Riper Tice barn. The project was completed in 2001 with the help of Will Mazzuto and the vision of John Kroner and Joanne Lombardo.
The Hopper House estate
Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Upper Saddle River Historical Society website. Please check the site for the hours and days it is open.
- Bergen County, NJ "Northwest Bergen Historical Coalition" Event
- Decorated Homes at Christmas in the Hudson River Valley
- Experiences and Tours
- Exploring Historic Bergen County
- Exploring Upper Saddle River, NJ
- Gilded Age homes of the Hudson River Valley
- Historic Homes of New Jersey
- Historic Sites in New Jersey
- Parks and Historical Sites
- Small Historical Societies in New Jersey
- Small Museums and Galleries in New Jersey
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Remember to check their website out for times the house is open.
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Don’t miss visiting the Hopper-Goetschius House Museum at their Annual Christmas Open House every first week of December.
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