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.
Originally designed as his own home, today the James Rose Center serves as the headquarters of a non-profit educational foundation, the mission of which is to improve the environment through research, education, preservation and design.
I recently toured the James Rose House with members of the Ridgewood Historical Museum. We had a lecture on the house and James Rose’s work in the industry as an architect and the other projects he had worked on over the years before his death in 1991.
The lecture was followed by a tour of the house with the group and then a small lecture and tour with the guide. We got to see the whole house, what he was trying to achieve in the design and the renovation work on the house as it is in pretty bad shape. The materials that were used to build the house were not the best quality and have rotted over the years. There is a lot of restoration work on the house that is needed.
We were able to walk all around the house and what struck me was the use of nature in the design of the house. He used the trees and brook on the property to achieve the aesthetic of the design of the house but over the years it has been used against it as the trees have either grown too big around the house or have died, in which one did and caused thousands of dollars of damage on the house. Still, it was an interesting tour of how the house was used as a studio and a family home for him, his mother and unmarried sister.
James Rose (1913-1991) was a maverick landscape architect whose rebellious nature caused one writer to refer him as the “James Dean of Landscape Architecture.” Here Rose created a unique work of art fusing modern sculpture, architecture and landscape into a single unified place for living.
(Information from the Center’s pamphlet)
For its unique modern spatial language, its expression of an alternative approach to conventional post war suburban residential development and as the constantly changing laboratory of one of landscape architecture’s most inventive minds, the Ridgewood home of James Rose is one of the twentieth century’s most important landscapes.
Rose began the design while in Okinawa during World War II with a model he made from scrapes found in construction battalion headquarters. “I wanted the spaces flowing easily from one to another, divided for privacy and for convenience.” Rose wrote in 1943. “I wanted the arrangement flexible and varied. Most of all, I wanted all this integrated with the site in a design that seemed to grow, to mature and to review itself as all living things do.”
Constructed in 1953, Rose described his home as a “tiny village” build on an area half the size of a tennis court. It was a composite of three buildings-a main house for his mother, a guesthouse for his sister and a studio for himself. This experimental landscape achieves a fusion of indoors and outdoors perhaps unequaled by other leading designers of this time. Rose later described it as “neither landscape nor architecture, but both; neither indoors, nor outdoors but both.”
It was conceived to accommodate rapid twentieth century charge. “I decided to go at the construction as you might a painting or sculpture.” Rose wrote. “I set the basic armature of walls and roofs and open spaces to establish their relationships but left it free in detail to allow for improvisation. In that way it would never be “finished,” but constantly evolving from one stage to the next-ametamorphosis,” Rose wrote, “such as we find commonly in nature.”
Consistent with this, the design changed dramatically during the almost forty years Rose lived here. From 1961, when Rose was invited by the Japanese government to participate in a World Design Conference (WoDeCo), he founded a mirror to his modern American design sensibility in the ancient culture of Japan. In changes such as the addition of the roof garden and zendo in the early 1970’s a fusion of ancient East and modern West is effected as Rose compares the filigrees of plant forms to the filigrees of structure. “In the bare architecture outline is a pattern of organic (rather than cosmetic) decoration and an inter division of space.”
Unfortunately in the eighties this remarkable design, built to accommodate rapid growth went into rapid disrepair. Neglect, fire and water damage threatened complete destruction until a foundation was established by Rose, Dean Cardasis and a few of Rose’s close friends was formed just before Rose’s death in 1991. In 1993 the rehabilitation of this important property began and continues to this day. The site serves students, scholars and the general public in its new life as the James Rose Center for Landscape Architectural Research and Design.
The rehabilitation reversed rampant deterioration of the previous decade. Support systems were revamped. Fire damage was repaired. The leaking roof was rebuilt and Rose’s roof garden was reconstructed. Salvageable wood was reconditioned and woven with new lumber. Garden pools were rebuilt and important planting edges re-established. Murals and other original artwork were reconditioned. Through the center’s ongoing efforts, Rose’s enduring creation has entered a new stage of its metamorphosis from which it will continue to evolve.
But it remains consistent with its origins as a important modern work and serves the same larger purpose it always had for Rose to pose for us elemental questions about the nature of design. “Change is the essence,” Rose observed. “To reveal what is always there is the trick. The metamorphosis is seen minute by minute, season by season, year by year. Through this looking glass, ‘finish’ is another word for death.”
(Ridgewood-James Rose Center History)
James Rose, landscape theorist, author and practitioner
Along with Garrett Eckbo and Dan Kiley, James C. Rose was one of the leaders of the modern movement in American landscape architecture. Rose was only five years old when his father died and with his mother and older sister, moved to New York City from rural Pennsylvania. He never graduated from high school (because he refused to take music and mechanical drafting) but nevertheless managed to enroll in architecture courses at Cornell University. A few years later he transferred as a special student to Harvard University to study landscape architecture. He was soon expelled from Harvard in 1937 for refusing to design landscapes in the Beaux Arts manner.
The design experiments for which he was expelled served as a basis for a series of provocative articles expounding modernism in landscape design, published in 1938 and 1939 in Pencil Points magazine (now Progressive Architecture). Subsequently Rose authored many other articles, including a series with Eckbo and Kiley as well as four books which advance both the theory and practice of landscape architecture in the twentieth century.
Rose was employed briefly in New York City in 1941 as a landscape architecture by Tuttle, Seelye, Place and Raymond where he worked on the design of a staging area to house thirty thousand men to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. For a short time, Rose had a sizable practice of his own in New York City but he quickly decided that large-scale public and corporate work would impose too many restrictions on his creative freedom and devoted most of his post WWII career to the design of private gardens.
Fusion of indoor and outdoor space:
In 1953, he began building one of his most significant designs, the Rose residence in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Rose conceived of the design while stationed in Okinawa, Japan in 1943. He made the first model from scraps found in construction battalion headquarters. After construction, the design was published in the December 1954 issue of Progressive Architecture, juxtaposed to the design for a traditional Japanese house built in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; the article cites Rose’s design for its spatial discipline. The design clearly expresses Rose’s idea of fusion between indoor and outdoor space as well as his notion that modern environmental design must be flexible between indoor and outdoor space as well as his notion that modern environmental design must be flexible to allow for changes in the environment as well as in the in the lives of its users.
Practice based on improvisation:
From 1953 until his death, Rose based an active professional practice in his home. Like Thomas Church and many others. Rose practiced a form of design/build because it gave him control over the finished work and allowed him to spontaneously improvise with the sites of his gardens. As a result of this, most examples also exist in Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, California and abroad.
Establishment of a landscape research and design study center:
James C. Rose was one of the most colorful figures in twentieth century landscape design. While skeptical of most institutions during his lifetime he served as guest lecturer and visiting critic at numerous landscape architecture and architecture schools. Before he died he set in motion an idea which had been in his mind for forty years; the establishment of a landscape research and design study center and created a foundation to support the transformation of his Ridgewood residence for this purpose. Rose died in his home in 1991 of cancer.
This museum was established in 1980 and is one of the only rare few in the United States dedicated solely to the arts of Africa. Its permanent collections, exhibited on a rotating basis, offer a unique advantage in the study and research of sub-Saharan sculpture and painting, costumes, textiles and decorative arts, religion and folklore.
The main hall of the museum
The African Art Museum of the SMA Fathers is one of five museums around the world founded and maintained by the Society of African Missions, an International Roman Catholic missionary organization that serves the people of Africa.
The stained glass windows and displays
The museum is the continued vision of SMA’s founder, Bishop Melchior de Marion Bresillac (1813-1859). The French-born clergyman urged his Society to respect and preserve the culture of the peoples they serve, the unique among the missionaries of his time. (This information is provided by the museum).
Their current exhibitions is on the “Africanizing of Christian Art” which shows the 20th Century encounter between Catholic Christianity and the visual culture of the Yoruba, a prominent west African people of southwest Nigeria under the conditions of late colonization (This information provided by the museum).
The hallway off the main room
The collection contains many works in the form of masks, textile work, religious figurines and decorative arts. Each display case shows a different theme in the art. The museum is the main hallway of the church. It grounds are also nice to walk around in in the nice weather.
The Carlstadt Historical Firehouse Museum is run by the Carlstadt Historical Society houses a remarkable collection that includes archival photographs, written documents, new articles, clothing and other items that bring the borough’s colorful history to life. You can find everything from 1930’s era school pennants to early 20th Century fife and drum corp uniforms to a vintage breathalyzer used by the police department.
The museum is the old firehouse
The first floor of the museum is dedicated to the War effort with memorabilia from residents who fought in WWI and WWII, articles from both the Carlstadt Police and Fire Department, pieces of artwork from buildings around the town and mementos from residents of the town. The second floor is dedicated to the school district with pennants from school graduations and parties (Carlstadt is home to the oldest continuing school picnic in the county), pictures of classes of the schools (I even found my aunt and uncles pictures from when they attended school here) and high school yearbooks.
If you are an alumnus of the school system, you will get a kick out of the second floor of the museum. Not only does it have the school archives but lots of pictures that were donated by alumni of the schools of their experiences. Years of school pennants line the ceiling.
The museum can be seen in one afternoon but you will spend more time just looking at all the pictures and getting lost in the experience. Don’t miss the displays from the Carlstadt Fire and Police Departments.
Carlstadt Fire Department history
Disclaimer: Some of the information was taken from the Bergen County Historical Society and some from my recent to the museum. The museum is open only on the 4th Sunday of each month and by appointment only so you need to plan accordingly.