To all your history buffs, please visit Bergen County, NJ for interesting experience of visiting our historical sites and restaurants. Check out our Team Project from Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. “From Revolution to Renewal-A Historical Tour of Bergen County”.
I had the most interesting semester for Spring Term at the college where I work. Everything started off fine. We had classes in the the afternoon, good discussions on Marketing and had a very successful Team Project marketing the Lyndhurst Snack Shop, the new Bulldog Cafe, for business (See Day One Hundred and Fifty-Nine in MywalkinManhattan.com):
I had just handed out the next Team Project, “From Revolution to Renewal: Exploring the Historic Bergen County”, a major tourism project I wanted to the students to work on for the remainder of the semester the week before the break. I had the students to break up into groups and get to know one another and get their game plans…
Bergen County Department of Parks, Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs
Court Plaza South
21 Main Street, Room 203 W
Hackensack, N.J. 07601-7000
Survey of the Early Stone Houses of Bergen County:
One of the most important early American building types is that of the pre-1840 stone house built in areas with Dutch Cultural affiliation. Bergen County is unique in the abundance, variety and architectural quality of these early stone houses, although adjacent areas of New Jersey and New York have some of the type.
Materials and methods remained constant but the house which were built from the time of Dutch colonization in the 17th century vary in size, plan and stylistic detail. Bergen County’s surviving early stone houses many located along major thoroughfares, provide county residents with tangible links to the formation years of the County, State and Nation.
The Campbell-Christi House at New Bridge Landing/Bergen County Historical Society
The Survey of Early Stone Houses of Bergen County conducted in 1978-79 identified and recorded 230 of these early houses. Of these, 208 retained sufficient architectural integrity to be placed as a thematic group on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places in 1983, 1984 and 1985. A clear recognition of the houses importance is given by inclusion on these Registers, which are the State’s and Nation’s official lists of cultural resources worthy of preservation.
For inclusion in the Stone House Survey a building has to have at least two first story walls of pre-1840 stonework. The stone used in constructing the houses varies according to what as locally available. Many of the houses have reddish-brown sandstone walls but in the north-western section of the county rougher local fieldstone was utilized. Some houses have exterior walls of various types of stone and in some brick or frame exterior walls appear with stone ones. Frequently front facades display finer masonry work than do sides and rear. Usually the houses are 1 1/2 stories in height and have gable or gambrel roofs, sometimes with sweeping overhangs. Often there are side wings.
Wortendyke Barn in Oakland, NJ
Examples of the house-type are commonly called “Dutch Colonial.” This name most frequently applied to gambrel-roofed houses is a misnomer. Most of the houses were erected in the early 19th century, long after New Jersey passed from Dutch control in 1664. They date to a time when Anglo-American culture was being assimilated into Bergen’s Dutch cultural base. The typical stone house of the Colonial Period in Bergen County is a simple gable-roofed building.
Because they have been continuous use since they were constructed, many early stone houses have been modified and embellished. Often these changes in themselves have architectural distinction and are important to Bergen’s 19th and 20th century architectural history. Even when altered, the basic form and fabric of the original stone dwellings are usually recognizable and the houses are part of the county’s earliest architectural heritage.
Cadmus House in Fairlawn, NJ
The Stone House survey was sponsored by the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Bergen County Historic Sites Advisory Board and the Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs. It was prepared by the Office of Albin H. Rothe, A.I.A. Claire K. Tholl did the field survey. The survey was made possible by a grant-in-aid from the Office of New Jersey Heritage, Division of Parks and Forestry, N.J. Department of Environmental Protection and matched by funds from the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
The report for the Survey of the Early Stone Houses, with background text and inventory forms for houses, may be consulted at the Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs between 9:00am and 4:30pm weekdays.
Hopper House in Upper Saddle River, NJ
Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Bergen County Department of Parks, Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs pamphlet and I give them full credit for this information. Please contact the Department for more information on the subject.
I have been to many special events at the Garretson Forge & Farm over the years, but COVID had put a stop to many of them since 2020. The farm is now back and running beautifully with the help of their roster of volunteers and master gardeners manning the grounds both in the front and back of the homestead.
In previous years when I have visited, I have toured the home visiting the indoor kitchen and display room that is the oldest part of the house which was built in 1719.
The signage in front of the house
The kitchen of the Garretson Forge is from the original structure of the house.
The cooking utensils at the Garretson Forge kitchen
The spinning at the Garretson Forge farm was part of life
The newer part of the house where spinning takes place and where you can see examples of Dutch furniture with chest for clothing and a rope bed, where the expression ‘sleep tight don’t let the bedbugs bite’ comes from. You had to tighten a rope bed with a key to tighten the ropes at night and the mattresses were either made from straw or if you were lucky, goose feathers.
The newer part of the home with the upstairs dormers was built in 1760.
The upstairs is the newest addition to the house
The Garretson Family tree
Inside the original part of the home is the family tree of the Garretson family who lived in the house for six generations from 1719 to 1972 when the last of the Garretson line, the husband of the wife who was a direct descendant died and the home was bought by a developer. The also have a collection of Presidential signatures that are kept under lock and key at night.
The Presidential Signature Room
The Living Room fireplace is right off the Signature Room
The kitchen in the original 1719 part of the home is decorated with period utensils, herbs and vegetables for drying and all the things you would need to prepare food for the long winter. These things would have been placed in the fruit cellar.
The Herb Garden right off the kitchen
The water pump and herb garden are right in back of the kitchen
Outside the home during the recent Harvest Festival that I attended in October 2022, you can visit all sorts of farming equipment, sleds, and hoes for using on the farm to grow plants.
The barn has herbs drying for the season and foods being stored. This along with farm equipment. These items have been brought from all over Bergen County.
The Fall Festival 2022 on October 9th, 2022
The other barn had period carriages and even a dairy vehicle delivery of milk and eggs to homes. There were items drying out in the barn for basketmaking and even in the back the tombstone of an original member of the family.
The Barn Vehicles
The barn equipment
The backyard of the home is an extensive number of plantings that the Master Gardeners maintain and many of the items grown on the property go to a foodbank in Paterson, NJ. I thought that was a very nice donation to give especially these days. I was able to walk through what was left of the vegetables and fruits that had not either been picked or went through their growing cycle.
Items drying in the barn
Activities at the Harvest Festival included making colonial dishes from original recipes including a roasting ham on the fire, pumpkin pie, chopped vegetables for stew and a stew that was cooking on the fire.
The bounty of Fall in Colonial America
Unfortunately, we were not able to sample these delicious looking items because of a food license but everything looked really good. They had everything laid out on the table as the ladies explained to me how things were cooked back then.
Roasting meats on the fire a traditional way
Here and there were tables of items for sale including snacks, crafts and vintage decorative items for the home. This helps raise money for the maintenance of the house.
There was also a plant sale where items grown on the property were being sold for people’s decorative gardens.
Before I left, the master gardener explained to me that the Chinese Chestnut Tree in the back of the property was a documented tree and was one of the oldest and largest in the State of New Jersey. They are not too sure who planted it years ago.
Their Harvest Festival was a lot of fun and there were lots to do for families with small children. This takes place every October.
The History of Garretson Forge & Farm:
Garretson Forge & Farm is one of the oldest historic sites in Bergen County, New Jersey. Settled in 1719, this Dutch Colonial homestead was home to six generations of the Garretson family. Their homestead remains a rare surviving example of a simple farming life that was prevalent in the 1700’s and 1800’s. It now functions as a living museum and a working farm, preserving our colonial past and agricultural heritage.
Located along an old Native American trail, about a mile north of Garretson Lane, is one of the original farms in Slooterdam, owned by the Dutch family of Peter Garretson. Today, more than 300 years later, the trail has come to be known as River Road, Garretson Lane is now called Broadway and Slooterdam has evolved into Fair Lawn, yet the original farmhouse and remaining grounds are still referred to as the Garretson Homestead.
In the 17th century, New Jersey was divided into the Provinces of East and West Jersey by its English proprietors, Lords Berkeley and Carteret. These lands were then sold to a group of Quakers headed by William Penn. By 1692, part of East Jersey, known as the Saddle River Tract, had been divided into large lots, one of which was sold to the Stillwell family.
The Garretson homestead stand on a portion of land that was acquired in 1708 by David Daniellse from the Stillwell family. A copy of the original propriety deed signed by King George of England and the Lenni Lenape Chief, Spotted Tail and granting the land to David Daniellse, is hanging in the homestead. The original property was bounded on the west by the Passaic River and on the east by the Saddle River. Peter Garretson purchased the property from Mr. Daniellse in 1719.
After Peter Garretson’s death, title to the land was passed from one generation to the next. From time-to-time parcels of the tract were sold. The present site consists of 1.84 acres along River Road.
The beauty of the Garretson Forge Farm in the Fall
The house is an example of Dutch Colonial architecture which is charismatic of Bergen, Passaic and Hudson Counties.
One and one-half stories high and built about 1719 of rubble and undressed stone, the current kitchen wing is considered by most to be the homestead. It features a large open-hearth fireplace typical of Flemish design of the late 1600’s. On a late nineteenth-century photograph of the house, remnants of a brick beehive oven can be seen on the outer wall.
Farming equipment outside the barn
In 1760, the larger section of the house was built using dressed stone. The sandstone blocks were held together with mortar made of river mud mixed with straw and hogs hair. It was under this section that fragments of clay pipes (c1720) were uncovered.
The farmhouse on River Road in Fairlawn, NJ
Extensive renovations were made to the house in 1902. The present gambrel roof replaced a steep gable roof; a front door was replaced with a window; an inner stairway to the basement replaced cellar hatches. A large center Victorian stairway to the second floor was also built and the open-hearth fireplaces were enclosed in the Victorian style. A large pillared porch was also added.
An early nineteenth century carriage house still stands on the property along with a large barn and several smaller outbuildings, the oldest of which is a small wooden structure built circa 1800 in the Dutch barn style.
The barn and carriage house
The Garretson Family:
The history of the Garretson family in America began in 1660 with the emigration of Gerrit Gerritse, his wife, Annetje Hermansse and their son, Gerrit from Wageningen, Gelderland (Netherlands). They arrived in New Amsterdam and proceeded to the town of Bergen, where in 1668, Gerrit (Sr) bought from Philip Carteret, eight parcels of land. The family resided in what is now the Communipaw section of Jersey City, where Gerrit died in October of 1696. His wife died on September 7, 1696.
Some of Gerrit Gerritse’s children took the name Van Wagenen, while others retained that of Garretson, from the name of their father. The descendants of Gerrit Gerritse, going by the surname of Garretson, Van Wegenen and Van Wagoner are today numerous throughout Bergen and Hudson Counties.
Mary Garretson’s Tombstone is located in the barn
Peter Garretson, grandson of the elder Gerrit Gerritse, purchased the Slooterdam Patent from David Daniellse in 1719. The house was built shortly afterwards. Six generations of the Garretson family resided on the farm until the death of Mary Garretson Brocker in 1950. Her widower, Feenix Brocker, remained at the homestead and continued farming until 1974.
Originally a homestead farm, subsistence and market crops were grown from the early 1700’s through the early 1970’s by the Garretson family.
The back of the house
Today, the gardens at Garretson continue an agricultural tradition. A variety of heirloom vegetables, all open-pollinated are grown in the kitchen garden using organic and sustainable practices. Produce in season is donated to a local emergency food pantry. An extensive herb garden contains over 75 types of medicinal and culinary herbs that were grown in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds.
The Garretson farm gardens behind the house are tended to by the master gardeners.
Garretson’s Butterfly Garden provides host plants and nectar sources for many different kinds of butterflies. Since 2005, Garretson has been certified by Monarch Watch as a Monarch Waystation (monarch habitat).
The Children’s Garden at Garretson abounds in spring ephemeral wildflowers, bulbs and ferns. In the heat of summer its offers a welcome place to sit in the shade. Gardeners have been restoring native plants to this woodland area.
The garden sheds behind the house
Many of the garden volunteers are Rutgers-trained Master Gardeners who have done their community service at Garretson and who give back to the community and Bergen County Master Gardener Program by training new gardeners at Garretson.
The gardens at the Garretson Forge farms behind the house
Garretson Forge and Farm Restoration Inc.:
The Garretson property was sold in 1974 to a private builder for residential value, community members became interested in acquiring the property for preservation. This led to the founding of the Garretson Forge and Farm Restoration Inc. in 1974 for the purpose of raising funds for the purchase. Through the efforts of the organization, the community at large and government agencies, the necessary funds were raised for the acquisition of the property.
GFFR Inc. continued to raise funds to maintain the site and to restore the kitchen to its eighteenth-century design. Money was also used to purchase artifacts and articles related to Garretson history.
The open kitchen at the Garretson Farm
In 1977, ownership of the property was accepted by the Freeholders of Bergen County. Now a county historical site, the Garretson homestead continues to be administered by the members of Garretson Forge and Farm Restoration Inc.
GFFR Inc. is a volunteer organization whose mission is to preserve and maintain the Garretson homestead, keeping it open to the public; to educate the greater community about local and state history; to foster environmentally sustainable agricultural practices and biodiversity.
Programs and Special Events:
Throughout the year, Garretson Forge and Farm offers.
Living history events:
*The Spring Festival celebrating colonial life and crafts in the 1700’s.
*The Fall Festival celebrating the harvest and the 1800’s farm.
Fall Festival 2022
Civil War Activities at the Garretson Forge
Civil War activities at the Fall Festival
Spinning wool and cloth making at the Fall Festival
*Dutch Christmas presenting a traditional Dutch celebration with the homestead decorated in Victorian style.
The Map and Signature galleries
Children’s toys at the Garretson Forge
*Open House and garden tours
*Lectures on the environment and on local history.
The Signature and Map Collection at Garretson Forge
*The Master Gardener Program
*Garden and craft workshops
*The annual Butterfly Festival for families.
Community Service Programs:
*Eagle Scout Projects
*Community Seed Bank
*Seasonal produce donations to local food banks.
For more information on events, please check out the website:
I recently visited the Steuben House for a Christmas concert which was an evening of Christmas songs, a talk on the history of Christmas before, during and after the Revolutionary War. It was a very lively evening of song and lecture and the ladies who entertained us sang beautifully.
The Campbell-Christie House was used as the ‘pub’ for diners that night
Linda Russell & Company sang Christmas songs of the time and then talked in between about how Christmas was celebrated during the War years. She was a delight in her discussion and her and her daughter and their friend did a wonderful job.
The concert was entertaining, and the talk was interesting in the Van Steuben House
A sample of Linda Russell’s music
It seemed that while the Puritans put a damper on the Christmas holidays in New England the Dutch New Jersey and New York thoroughly enjoyed the holiday season after all their hard work during the Fall harvest months.
What was really nice was the Campbell-Christie House was open as a pub for dinner and light snacks and you could order things like Shepard Pie, Cheese & Onion Pie and Cake doughnuts and gingerbread for dessert while enjoying conversation by candlelight. It was an interesting and engaging history.
The Van Steuben House for the holidays was where the entertainment was that night
The house is nicely decorated for Christmas circa 1778
The Campbell-Christie House at Christmas 2020 Historical Event
Singer Linda Russell at the Christmas Tour Event at the BCHS 2020
Don’t miss their historic lectures and reenactments during the year. Check their website above for more activities.
The historic marker of the Campbell-Christie House
The Campbell-Christie House, an 18th century sandstone structure, is located in Historic New Bridge Landing State Park, River Edge. This historic building originally stood at the intersection of Henley Avenue & River Road, in New Milford, NJ. In 1977, in order to save it from demolition, Bergen County purchased and moved it south to this site next to the Hackensack River.
The Christie Family Pub sign
The house was used again for a pub for the Christmas concerts that returned to the site in December 2022. The house was set up as a restaurant with a limited menu before and after the concerts. The light fare was catered in and the menu was similar to what people would have eaten at that time but with a modern twist. The food was really good.
The house was used again for a pub on Christmas 2022 for the concert night
The Campbell-Christie House as the Blackhorse Pub for Christmas dinner
My Shepard’s Pie meal for the Christmas concert at the Blackhorse Pub
The Dutch Sweets dessert plate at the Blackhorse Pub in the Campbell-Christie House Christmas 2022
Sandstone houses were built continuously from the Dutch colonization of the 17th century through the founding of the Republic and the early years of the 19th century. The Campbell-Christie House, an outstanding example of this early regional architecture, is a 5 bay, 4 room center all building with two rooms to either side and two interior chimneys. This stone house form seems to have been built mainly after the Revolution and up to the turn of the century. The front wall is built out of well-dressed local sandstone with inset wooden trapezoidal lintels and side composed of roughly coursed sandstone.
The Campbell-Christie House during Washington’s Birthday Celebration
The Historic New Bridge Landing Site
Jacob Campbell, at the time of his marriage in 1774 built this house along the road (now Henley Avenue) that led from Old Bridge to the Schraalenburgh Church. Historical evidence records that Campbell, a mason by trade, also ran a tavern in his household. In 1795, the house was sold to John Christie, a blacksmith, who continued as a tavern keeper. Jacob Brinkerhoff-Christie, manager of the Comfort & Lumber Company, eventually inherited this large valuable homestead farm property along the Hackensack River. His son. John Walter, born in the house in 1865, was a famous inventor who built and raced cars (at one time holding the world’s speed record), invented the automotive front-wheel drive and is known as the “father of the modern tank”.
Historic New Bridge Landing Park is located at the narrows of the Hackensack River. Because of its strategic site along a tidal waterway it has been an active area of settlement, trade and commercial activities for thousands of years. The construction of the “New Bridge” in 1744 accelerated development of the area. Because of the nearness to Manhattan, New Bridge Landing was a principal base of operation during the Revolutionary War and considered an important strategic route, guarded by troops from both sides at different times. General George Washington, who made his headquarters in Zabriske’s house, led his soldiers in retreat across here on November 20, 1776, saving his troops from entrapment by advancing British troops.
On the Hackensack River’s west bank, near the bridge, is the Steuben House. Originally constructed by Jan Zabriskie in 1753 and doubled in size around 1765, it has been referred to as to as among the five “great houses” of Colonial Bergen County. The third stone house is the 18th century Demarest House, moved to this site in 1956 and owned by the Demarest-Blauvelt Foundation. The Historic New Bridge Landing Park Commission, a partnership of the Bergen County Historical Society, Blauvelt-Demarest Foundation, the County of Bergen, New Jersey Division of Parks & Forestry, New Milford Borough, River Edge Borough and Teaneck Township, operates the New Bridge Landing site.
This site also contains the County-owned 1888-89 Pratt-type, “pony” truss, iron swing bridge, the oldest highway swing bridge in New Jersey. The Campbell-Christie House, along with the other two houses and the bridge, is on the State & National Register of Historical Place. It is the headquarters of the Bergen County Historical Society and furnished with the furniture and collection owned by the Society. Open year round. For the FCHS calendar of event or go to http://www.bergencountyhistory.org.
(2015 Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs)
The Bergen County Division of Cultural & Affairs received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of the State.
Disclaimer: This information is taken directly form my pamphlet from the Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs. The site holds it position in its participation in the Revolutionary War and should not missed. I give them full credit for this information. Please call them for more information.
The reenactment of the Historic Bridge attack during the American Revolution at the Bergen County Historical Society. I give the Historical Society full credit for this information.