Tag: Downtown Hackensack

‘Church on the Green’                                        (The First Reformed Church of Hackensack), the Church Cemetery and the Hackensack Green                                                                   42 Court Street                                      Hackensack, NJ 07601

‘Church on the Green’ (The First Reformed Church of Hackensack), the Church Cemetery and the Hackensack Green 42 Court Street Hackensack, NJ 07601

“Church on the Green” (The First Reformed Church of Hackensack), the Cemetery and the Hackensack Green

43 Court Street

Hackensack, NJ  07601

Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs

(201) 336-7267

(201) 342-7050



Due to their national historic significance the church, cemetery and the adjacent Hackensack Green were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The Green dates back to 1696 and is one of the oldest public squares in NJ. A strategic point during the American Revolution, Hackensack was a small village centered on The Green, a public meeting place where public notices were posted. In the 18th century it was where punishments were inflicted on criminals and where the local militia trained.

General Washington headquartered here in November 1776, while he surveyed the local roads and bridges. On November 20, 1776, he led his army into Hackensack. The army camped on The Green as Washington made the important decision to continue the retreat from overwhelming British and Hessian forces. On March 23, 1780, the British raided Hackensack and burned the courthouse that stood on the Green at that time. Since 1715, a Bergen County courthouse building faced The Green in Hackensack, the County Seat since 1710, making it the historic heart of Bergen County (County of Bergen Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs).

Dutch Reformed Church of Hackensack

The Cornerstone

The First Dutch Reformed Church congregation was organized in 1686, the oldest Reformed Dutch congregation in Bergen County and second oldest in NJ. (County of Bergen Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs).

During the first ten years, churchgoers worshiped in a private home outside the limits of modern-day Hackensack. The official name of the congregation was the “Dutch Reformed Church of Ackensack” and comprised thirty-three residents from Hackensack, New Barbadoes and Acquackanonk. All three of these townships made up most of northeastern New Jersey. Acquackanonk was located in the northern portion of modern Essex County. New Barbadoes was comprised of land west of the Hackensack River, while Ackensack was located to the east. In April of 1696, Captain John Berry (1619-1712), the proprietor of a large portion of land in northeastern New Jersey, donated two and three-quarter acres of his property to the congregation to support their efforts to build the church. Most of present-day Hackensack at that time was called “New Barbadoes Township” and Hackensack is thought to have gotten its unofficial name when the Church relocated to New Barbadoes and brought the name “Ackensack” with it.

The emergence of the Dutch Reformed Church in America developed from Dutch colonization of New York and New Jersey during the 17th century. Dutch settlement was prominent in these areas before the British took control of the area in the late 1600’s. Still, the Dutch were freely allowed to practice their religion in America, even under British sovereignty. The Hackensack First Reformed Church would become the second oldest Reformed Church in New Jersey and the first in Hackensack. Construction of the church was completed in the latter part of 1696.

John Berry’s donation of land was appropriately dubbed, “The Green” and the church soon became known as “The Church on the Green”. The first sermon was preached on November 15th, 1696, based on Psalm 26:8 “Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house and the place where thine honor dwelleth.” Although the first church was largely completed in 1696, the steeple was not built until 1708. The entire structure was rebuilt in 1728 on the same site. These two early church buildings were thought to have been octagonal structures.

Dutch Reformed Church of Hackensack III

The Back of the Dutch Reformed Church

In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, the British invaded Hackensack. They burned the courthouse and jail and threatened to destroy the Church on the Green, which was located adjacent to the aforementioned buildings. Fortunately, the church was spared. Dutch Colonial architecture with sandstone walls being the prominent feature of the building. Some aspects, especially the arched and pointed windows, appear to have Gothic elements.

The front of the church has three sets of double doors with similarly arched doorways and transom windows. This style was a precursor for many of the Reformed Dutch churches that were eventually build in New Jersey. Although the present-day building dates from 1791, the church was enlarged in 1847 and again in 1847 and again in 1869, thus containing newer elements.

The attached cemetery is original to the first building’s construction in the late seventeenth century but during the renovation in 1847, it was also enlarged. The neighboring service house was built in 1867 and was used as a Sunday school, lecture hall and chapel.

The churchyard cemetery features simple stone tablets and obelisks that are surrounded by a wrought iron fence. Some notable burials include General Enoch Poor (1736-1780), Colonel and New York Mayor Richard Varick (1753-1831), Congressman George Cassedy (1783-1842) and Congressman Adam Boyd (1746-1835). General Enoch Poor’s burial is especially noteworthy as he served alongside George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

Additionally, both Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette were in attendance at Poor’s funeral. Enoch Poor’s gravestone reads: “In Memory of the Hon’ble Brigadier General Enoch Poor of the State of New Hampshire who Departed this Life on the 8 day of Sept: 1780 aged 44 years/Washington, Lafayette and a portion of the American army attended the burial of Gen. Poor. In 1824, Lafayette visited this grave and turned away much affected, exclaimed, “Ah, that was one of my Generals!” Poor died in 1780, before the close of the Revolutionary War, so this gravestone is clearly not the original.

Dutch Reformed Church of Hackensack II

The cemetery at the Dutch Reformed Church

The Reformed Church was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places on April 25, 1983. Included in this nomination was the “Green”,  which is one of the oldest public squares in New Jersey. This area encompasses the Churchyard, the cemetery, the church outbuilding and the green area that is adjacent to the Bergen County Courthouse. There are a few monuments that occupy this space, including a statue memorial to General Enoch Poor, which was dedicated in 1904 and the Hackensack War Memorial, which dates to 1924. The church continues to be a prominent feature of the history of Hackensack through community and self-guided walking tours. In addition to this, there are yearly Memorial Day commemorations, where a wreath is placed over General Enoch Poor’s grave and a tour of the church is provided to the attendees of the celebration.

Surrounding the Green, there are a few other historical buildings:

*The Peter Zabriskie Mansion site at 50 Main Street.

*Archibald Campbell’s Tavern Site at 41 Main Street

*The Hackensack War Memorial

*Site of the Burned Jail

*The Annual Christmas Tree on the Green

Christmas Tree at Hackensack Green

Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Bergen County Historical Society pamphlet and the Clio Website on the First Dutch Reformed Church of Hackensack and from visiting downtown Hackensack. Please call the church at (201) 342-7050 for details on visiting it. Please remember this is a resting place.

The Bergen County Court House                           10 Main Street                                        Hackensack, New Jersey 07601

The Bergen County Court House 10 Main Street Hackensack, New Jersey 07601

The Bergen County Court House: Hackensack, New Jersey

10 Main Street

Hackensack, NJ 07601

(201) 221-0700


Open: Monday-Friday-8:30am-4:30pm

*Call about touring the facility when court is in session.

The Bergen County Justice Complex (including the Bergen County Court House) was placed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic placed on November 22, 1982 and January 11, 1983 respectively. The Register nomination referred to the building’s significance as “important to the judicial of the Bergen County Justice Complex-the Court House, the Jail (now called the ‘Old Jail’), and the Administration Building-were the work of important architects and all possessed architectural quality and interesting examples of early 20th century technology.

Bergen County Courthouse IV

Designed by James Riely Gordon, in the Beaux Art style reflecting monuments of classical Rome and Italian Renaissance, the Court House incorporated rich materials including marble and bronze. With a dome modeled on the U.S. Capital, it incorporated other art forms including painting, sculpture and stained glass. The exterior contains many sculptures including the female statue of “Enlightenment Giving Power” on the dome’s cupola. The dome’s interior is decorated with Tiffany stained glass panels. Three of the courtrooms have elaborate stained glass skylights fabricated by the famous Lamb Studios. Some of the courtrooms also contain large murals painted in the 1930’s by artists working for the Federal Art Project of the Works Project Administration.

Bergen County Courthouse III

The Hackensack Green, Courthouse and Dutch Reformed Church and Cemetery

The symbolic value of the Court House was recognized when it was built in 1910-1912. A local newspaper, The Hackensack Republican, wrote on July 7, 1910 that the courts “stand for the protection of rights, for the redressing of wrongs and for the punishment of crime. There are the great safeguards of the freedom of the people…Hence we build these courthouses as temples of justice-substantial, ornate and commodious as the appropriate form for the great duties which are here to exercised”.

Bergen County Courthouse II.jpg

Bergen County Court House 1715-1912

First Court House 1715: The Court House was combined jail and courthouse built on the site of three blocks south of the present County Administration  Building. It was located in an area known as Quacksack, later becoming part of the southern portion of Hackensack. It was built of stone laid up by two of the freeholders, John Stagg and Ryer Ryerson.

Second Court House 1734: This Court House, built on “land near the Dutch Church by Hackensack River.” was probably on or adjacent to the Green in Hackensack and closer to the river than the site of the current courthouse. It burned in 1780 during the Revolutionary War in the British raid of Hackensack.

Third Court House 1780: The 1780 Court House was something of a temporary structure built during the Revolutionary War away from Hackensack. It was a log building with the courthouse and jail housed under one roof, erected at “The Ponds” (Present day Oakland) in northwest Bergen County.

Fourth Court House 1786: The fourth Court House was built on a site “about 100 feet east of Main Street,” Hackensack where present day Bridge Street connects with Main Street (southern side of Bridge Street) fronting on the river. It was built on land bought from Peter Zabriskie, who lived in the magnificent Mansion House which faced the Green.

Fifth Court House 1819: The Fifth Court House was a brick structure built on the site of the present courthouse on land deeded to the county by Robert Campbell, a prominent Hackensack attorney and son of Archibald Campbell, whose tavern on the west side of Main Street faced the Green. Campbell specified that the land was deeded for the use of the county. If used for any other purpose, it was to revert to Campbell’s heirs. It was torn down in January 1912 when the present courthouse building had been completed on the side behind it and to its west.

Sixth Court House 1912: The present Court House was designed by James Riely Gordon (1863-1937), a prominent architect responsible for the design of about 70 courthouses and two state capitals. The cornerstone was laid July 6, 1910 and was built by John T. Brady & Company of New York. Completed in February 1912 at the cost of $1,617,000, it was the subject of considerable investigation and lawsuits due to charges that there was over-payment of funds as well as added costs, which became the basis for political battles.


For Justice Center information: contact http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/bergen/


2015 Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs

The Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

*Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historical Affairs pamphlet. Please refer to the website for tours and other information on visiting the site as it is a working courthouse. Please check the website and email or call before you visit.