The Hopper-Goetschius Museum
363 East Saddle River Road
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Open: Please check website for seasonal openings
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 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 recently 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 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.
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 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-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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
(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.
*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 Geotschius house for many years.
*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.
*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.
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.