Bergenfield Museum Society
100 Cooper Street
Bergenfield, NJ 07621
Open: Sunday (Last day of the month)/Monday Closed/Tuesday 1:00pm-3:00pm/Wednesday-Friday Closed/Saturday 1:00pm-3:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
I visited the Bergenfield Museum recently, a museum that I have to admit I never knew existed and I know almost all the museum in Bergen County and was surprised what an informative museum it was not just showcasing the history of Bergenfield but of Bergen County. Room by room the museum is filled with displays on the history of the town, and it has progressed through the last two hundred years.
The Bergenfield Museum at 100 Cooper Street
The museum is located in the back of Cooper Park towards the back of the pond. The museum is part of a complex of barns that were once small manufacturing companies owned by the families that owned the house. The grounds have the three barns that are not in use now and the home that overlooks the pond. This beautiful park was created during the Great Depression and is a wonderful place to just walk around in and relax from everyday life.
The history of the house and grounds of the Bergenfield Museum
Please note getting to the museum can be confusing as Google Maps and the museum diagram to get there are wrong. You will need to go down Ralph Road and then park before entering the complex. It is hard with the turnaround in the site to drive out with your car.
The entrance to the Bergenfield Museum at 100 Cooper Street
I was met with a very enthusiastic group of volunteers who are so proud of the house and the way it is presented to the public. When you enter the house, you are met in the foyer of the home which is filled with pictures and small displays and then led to what was the parlor room where the family would have all their entertainment and socializing. Inside the room there is a very interesting portrait of a mysterious woman, who even the museum docents do not who she is, located above the fireplace.
The room is decorated in period furnishings and even has one of the original phonographs. My docent, David, showed me how it worked and how you were able to get the volume up on the record player by opening one of the small doors in the cabinet.
The ‘starter’ organ in the Living Room
The room towards the back has an extensive collection of toys from the last one hundred years. There were several toys such a china dolls and metal ovens that were popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s to modern Fisher Price toys of the 1970’s that I remember growing up with as a kid. The site had once been a toy factory before the turn of the last century and these displays honor that history.
The Toy Room at the Bergenfield Museum is quite extensive
The museum is very much dedicated to the history of the Borough of Bergenfield, NJ. There are nice displays of the town’s school district and its history. The old school system pictures feature items from elementary school to high school and items that students would have used at the school. The elementary school featured in many of the pictures is still used by the town today according to my tour guide, David that afternoon. He told me he had attended the school growing up.
There was a small display of both the Bergenfield Fire and Police Departments and their progression through the years in the town. It is funny how much has changed cosmetically about the look of the job but the job itself is still the same. Helping people and keeping the town safe.
When you enter what was once the dining room, is the Chair Collection of Tunis Richard Cooper, whose factory was one of the barns on the property.
The Chair Factory rules
Some of the samples of the chairs manufactured at the barn factory
There were all sorts of makes and kinds of chairs throughout the room as well as many decorative pieces. The museum has an extensive collection of all the decorative furnishings that were made on the property including what the factory looked like and the rules and conduct of the employees working there.
The next room is the working kitchen of the original house with all sorts of kitchen equipment through the ages including a collection of toasters. There is also a working heart where the volunteers do some cooking.
Everything to keep a kitchen running
The hearth of the kitchen is where all the action was in the kitchen
The back room of the house has a large military display that includes local heroes of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI and the Vietnam War. There are all sorts of memorabilia from the soldiers and their families.
The Military display describes Bergenfield’s contribution to military battle from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam
The Military Room showcases our contributions on freedom
The patriotic duties of the town of Bergenfield, NJ
Take time to walk the grounds and admire the park. This beautiful green space was built by the WPA during the Depression and the landscaped park includes Cooper’s pond, extensive gardens and paths of green lawn.
The grounds of the museum were once a farm and a working factory environment
The factory/barn on the Bergenfield Museum property
The grounds of the Bergenfield Museum in Cooper’s Pond Park
Cooper’s Pond Park is a quiet and very green oasis from the distractions of today. It is a nice patch of nature to just walk around in and relax and enjoy the beautiful sunny weather.
The History of the Bergenfield Museum:
Two Hundred years after the founding of the United States, local historian, Betty Schmelz began collecting artifacts that were essential for telling Bergenfield’s story. By 1988, her small collection had blossomed into full museum displays comprised of a century’s worth of wedding dresses, Camp Merritt and WWI memorabilia and testaments to the Bergenfield Music Department.
The Bergenfield Music Department display
From 2002 to 2014, the museum closed, and the collection was moved to storage until negotiations were settled with the Borough of Bergenfield. In July of 2013, volunteers reassembled the items for public viewing and began rehabilitation efforts.
The Museum House Timeline:
(From the museum’s pamphlet)
The tools to create those wonderful and decorative chairs
The Tunis R. Cooper property was originally owned by French Huguenot immigrants, the Demarest family. After years of changed ownership and purpose, the legacy of the property is now protected by the Bergenfield Museum Society:
The timeline of the town and its development
*1677-1693: The Demarest family negotiates a deed for the Cooper Property with local Native Americans and settles throughout Schraalenburgh (now known as Bergen County).
*1840: Richard Tunis Cooper purchases the property and begins hiring local farmers to manufacture chairs.
*1849-1890’s: Richard’s son, Tunis Richard Cooper, purchases the property and establishes a successful chair factory. A major warehouse is opened in New York City.
*1897-1997: Ownership of the estate changes several more times:
-1897: Toymaker Oskar Martin, purchased the property.
-1908: Amos Bergman holds ownership until his death.
-1949: Bergman housekeeper, Daisy Coringrato, sells the property to wool importers, Alec and Catherine Marchbank.
*1997: Marchbank family initiates efforts to preserve the remaining Cooper Chair Factory and surrounding land.
*2004: The Borough of Bergenfield purchases the property with the four remaining buildings and solidifies preservation efforts.
*2013: The Bergenfield Museum successfully opens with a collection of authentic Bergen County artifacts.
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