Tag: Historic Museums of Bergen County

Waldwick Museum of Local History                        4 Hewson Avenue                                      Waldwick, NJ 07463

Waldwick Museum of Local History 4 Hewson Avenue Waldwick, NJ 07463

Waldwick Museum of Local History

4 Hewson Avenue

Waldwick, NJ  07463

(201) 873-8913

http://www.WaldwickMuseum.org

https://www.facebook.com/waldwick.MLH/

The Museum is open one Sunday afternoon a month and for special events only.

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46892-d14049026-Reviews-Waldwick_Museum_of_Local_History-Waldwick_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I visited the Waldwick Museum of Local History during the Northwest Bergen History Coalition 8th Annual History Day for their exhibition, “How Immigration & the Railroad Shaped our Towns”. They currently have an exhibition on the “100th Anniversary of Waldwick”. The Waldwick Museum is in the restored 1887 Railroad Station, which has served the town of Waldwick and the surrounding towns.

The Museum is has been planned for years and the restoration was spearheaded by Doug Cowie, the Vice-President of the Waldwick Community Alliance, who at the ribbon cutting ceremony at the opening on May 22nd, 2016, thanked resident, Kay Williams. Ms. Williams formed the Waldwick Historical Society in 1977.

The town is celebrating their 100 Anniversary and the new exhibition at the museum reflects it with exhibitions and memorabilia from the town of Waldwick. The currently exhibition is broken down into sections.

The main part of the museum has the history of the town displayed including the schools, police and fire departments and town organizations. The history of the railroad service in town is displayed of how it developed and the how the town grew around the station. Since the town is celebrating its ‘100th Birthday’, there are all sorts of pictures of the town at various stages.

Waldwick Museum of Local History V

The inside displays

The museum is only open once a month so please check their website.

In a ‘Brief History of the Borough of Waldwick’, the timeline for the town is:

Pre-1700: Lenni-Lenape Indians inhabited the land.

1600’s: European farmers settled the land.

Late 1700’s: Franklin Turnpike is a toll road.

1840’s: The Railroad connecting Jersey City with Suffern is built and ran through Waldwick, then named New Prospect.

1852: Erie Railroad Company takes over the railroad.

1880: New Prospect becomes a depot.

1886: An architectural Queen Anne Style depot is built. The depot is called ‘Waldwick’ meaning “Light in the Woods”. The depot brings more commerce to the area also called Orville Township.

1890: The Railroad Signal Tower is erected in a similar style as the Depot.

1919: The small railroad hamlet is incorporated as the Borough of Waldwick.

When I visited the museum that day, the theme of the day was how immigration had changed the suburbs and how the Town of Waldwick had a increase of Italian immigrants move into the town bringing their traditions with them and how it shaped the town.

They also had an extensive exhibition of the town’s railroad past with maps and pictures of the old railroads. The pictures are accompanied with memorabilia from the railroad era. There is also artifacts from the town in different eras on display.

The museum has limited hours and is run by volunteers. It is open one afternoon a month and for special events.

History of the Waldwick Train Station:

The Waldwick Railroad Station is one of the few extant frame terminal predating 1900 on the Erie Railroad line in New Jersey. Planned and built in 1887, the structure’s Queen Anne style is representative of the small suburban railroad depots erected throughout the United States in the last quarter of the 19th century. In 1996, the Station was named to the National Registry of Historic Places as well as the New Jersey Registry of Historic Places.

It also serves as home to the Waldwick Museum of Local History where exhibits commemorate life in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries and the impact that the railroad has had on the Borough of Waldwick and the surrounding area. The Waldwick Community Alliance (WCA) has complied a collection of hundreds of historical photographs and documents as well as artifacts from that time that are or will be on display. The WCA exhibits these historic artifacts along with others that are donated and collected.

Waldwick Museum of Local History IV

(The Waldwick Historical Society)

Disclaimer: This information was from the Waldwick Historical Society and I give them full credit for this information.

Waldwick Signal Tower                                             1 Bohnert Place                                         Waldwick, NJ 07463

Waldwick Signal Tower 1 Bohnert Place Waldwick, NJ 07463

Waldwick Signal Tower

1 Bohnert Place

Waldwick, NJ  07463

http://www.wctower@optimum.net

http://www.allaboardwaldwick.org/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Erie-Railroad-Signal-Tower-Waldwick-Yard/135792839782599

Open: Please note the website for when the two buildings, the tower and the railroad station museum are open.

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46892-d10366154-Reviews-Erie_Railroad_Signal_Tower-Waldwick_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

This was the second time I visited the Waldwick Signal Tower, one of the last surviving of its kind on the railroad line. The architectural Queen Anne Style depot was built in 1886. The depot was called ‘Waldwick’ meaning “Light in the Woods”. The railroad signal tower was erected in 1890 in a similar style as the depot (Waldwick Historical Society).

Waldwick Signal Tower II

The History of the Signal Tower

The tower is a two story museum right next to the tracks in a rather obscure location in the back which you have to reach coming off Hopper Road to 1 Bohnert Place and the parking lot is off to the side.

Waldwick Signal Tower IV

There is some walking here and not ADA accessible as the building was built so long ago but you can see it from a car from the parking lot and get a feel for its look and purpose at an earlier time in history. The main room downstairs had an interesting exhibition of railroad deeds from the various railroads that used to be part of the system of Bergen County whereas the upstairs which can be reached from the outside.

Upstairs you get a better view of the tracks and the surrounding area. There was a train video going the first time I was there and there are members of the Waldwick Historical Society on hand to answer any questions.

Waldwick Signal Tower History:

Waldwick’s Train Signal Tower is both historically and architecturally significant. It is a rare historical treasure for its residents and railroad enthusiasts from far and wide. Before the turn of the 20th Century, the Waldwick rail yard was an active repair depot and turn station for the Erie Main Line from Jersey City, NJ to Port Jervis, NY and was a major employer in Waldwick thus  contributing  to the borough’s residential and commercial growth.

The ornate Queen Anne style building was built in 1890 and housed the mechanism connecting switches and signals allowing trains to safely move from one track to another. The tower men who operated the switches by hand had great power indeed in their time.

By the mid-1980’s, upgrades in computerized signal equipment warranted the elimination of the tower. The tower was slated for demolition in June 1987. The Waldwick Historical Society members led by Kay Williams campaigned to place the tower on The National Registry of Historical Places. This accomplishment allowed the tower to at least stay dormant till the next wave of enthusiasts came along in 1999.

Waldwick Signal Tower III

The tower before the renovation

Michael Brunkhorst and Glenn Corbet banded together a group of citizens to form the All Aboard committee of Waldwick’s Historical Society. Curtis Springfield of Wanaque, who is the great-grandson of the renowned locomotive engineer, Harvey Springfield, got wind of the tower’s trials. He stepped up to the plate and purchased the tower for $6,000 then gave the Tower to the Borough of Waldwick as a gift to preserve for future generations in honor of the trainman’s family name.

The small All Aboard group set out to create awareness of the tower’s existence and it’s plight. Before long, fund drives were organized grant applications were filed. The response of a number of supporters including Mr. Robert Keeble, have given this project a solid start.

Meticulous measures are currently being made and can now be witnessed at the track end of Bohnert Place, to maintain the tower’s historical authenticity. Attention is being given to the placement of exact shaped decorative shingles and the repair and replacement of the original slate roof are among the initial stages of it’s restoration.

Waldwick Signal Tower

The Mission Statement:

The All Aboard continues seeking membership and financial support to complete the tower with the vision of becoming “The Harvey Springfield Memorial Tower at Waldwick” for generations of Waldwick citizens and for rail enthusiasts everywhere. If funding continues the tower is sure to be the pride of Waldwick with time and care.

This information comes from the Waldwick Historical Society’s pamphlet.

All Aboard Waldwick

Bless this tower, standing tall,

With Memories we share with all;

Bless the levers standing there,

Their work now finished,

with a prayer;

Bless this time in history now,

Remembering its always, this we vow;

Bless the ones who share this song,

And keep us all in health and strong.

Words by Helen Taylor.

A Brief History of the Borough of Waldwick

Pre-1700: Lenni-Lepane Indians inhabited the land.

1600’s: European farmers settled the land.

Late 1700’s: Franklin Turnpike is a toll road.

1840’s: The railroad connecting Jersey City with Suffern is built and ran through Waldwick, then named New Prospect.

1852: Erie Railroad Company takes over the railroad.

1880: New Prospect becomes a depot.

1886: An architectural Queen Anne Style depot is built. The Depot is called ‘Waldwick’ meaning “Light in the Woods”. The depot brings more commerce to the area also called ‘Orville Township’.

1890: The Railroad Signal Tower is erected in a similar style as the Depot.

1919: The small railroad hamlet is incorporated as the Borough of Waldwick.

Disclaimer: This information is taken directly from the Waldwick Historical Society pamphlet and I give them full credit for the information. Try to take time to see both  the tower and the museum by the train station. The Whistle Stop Restaurant is around the corner and has a reputation for excellent sandwiches and ice cream.

The Old Station Museum                                      171 Old Station Lane                                   Mahwah, NJ 07430

The Old Station Museum 171 Old Station Lane Mahwah, NJ 07430

The Old Station Museum

171 Old Station Lane

Mahwah, NJ  07430

(201) 512-0099

http://www.mahwahmuseum.org

http://mahwahmuseum.org/mahwah-history/old-station-timetable/

https://mahwahmuseum.org/the-old-station-museum/

*The Museum is currently closed for the season yet it was open for this event. It will reopen in late June. Admission to the museum is $3.00 per person over the age of 16 and is free for kids under 16 years of age.

TripAdvisor Review:

 

As part of my tour on the Eighth Annual Northwest Bergen History Coalition Day, I visited the Old Station Museum, which is partnered with the Mahwah Museum (mentioned in this blog also) and its concentration is on the history of trains and the trains that serviced the area.

Old Station Museum VI

They had an interesting exhibition on the trains that used to run in the area before they consolidated years ago, the companies that ran them and a full train display (as well as there is a complete train set in the lower level of the Mahwah Museum that you should not miss. It will bring the kid out in you).

One of the displays that I really liked was the Pullman Car exhibition of menus, china and other things that were used on the car to make service the best it could be. Like they mentioned in the display, food was a loss leader to the company which was made up in the ticket itself but it is what made the experience for the passenger. It what was brought them to the train in the first place. All I could keep thinking of was Eve Marie Saint in ‘North by Northwest’ when she was dining with Cary Grant.

Old Station Museum IV

The inside of the Caboose at the Old Station Museum in Mahwah.

The best part of the museum is when you tour the museum’s caboose that is located in the back of the museum. There are displays of the men that worked the line and their role in the railroad as well as a display of their living conditions. With new technology the caboose went out of service and there are very few left now. You really see the caboose from inside out and its purpose on the train.

The Old Station Museum and Caboose:

The exhibition at the station this season features several models built by former Mahwah resident, Hollis C. Bachmann. Mr. Bachmann constructed a model of N.Y.C. #999 and several other trolleys. We are fortunate to receive a donation of this balance of Mr. Bachmann’s collection from his niece, Kay Doody. Mr. Bachmann had built out model of the North Jersey Rapid Transit interurban car (trolley) that ran from Suffern to Paterson. You may remember seeing that model in our main museum building. It was constructed of tin cars, was two feet in length and included a detailed interior, having taken Mr. Bachmann six months to build. Please come by and see these really nicely detailed creations that are the offspring of that trolley.

Old Station Museum V

The Caboose

The Old Station Museum established in 1967 is located in a building that was the original station on the Erie Railroad in Mahwah. It was rescued from destruction, first by the Winters family and later by the Mahwah Historical Society. It contains many interesting artifacts given to the museum by collectors of railroad memorabilia. It also features a 1929 Erie cupola caboose which has been recently restored. There is a scale model of the Erie system and photos of the early days of railroading in Mahwah and along the rest of the mainline.

In 1848, the Paterson and Ramapo Railroad was built through Mahwah to carry passengers and freight from New York City via Paterson  to the mainline of the Erie Railroad located in Suffern, New York. From there, connections could be made to upstate New York then Chicago and on to the west.

In 1871, the leaders of Mahwah petitioned the Erie to allow a stop at a new station in Mahwah. The 1871 station remained in service until 1904 when the Erie expanded to four tracks and raised the roadbed from the ground level. The second station remained until 1914 when it was destroyed by fire. The current station was built in 1914 and still serves commuters today.

Old Station Museum III

The Old Station Museum with the Caboose

http://www.mahwahmuseum.org

Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the museum’s website and I give them full credit for all of the work. The museum will be reopening in June so be on the lookout for more information on events at the museum. It is a great place for kids.

 

 

The Schoolhouse Museum-Ridgewood Historical Society                                                                  650 Glen Avenue                                     Ridgewood, NJ 07450

The Schoolhouse Museum-Ridgewood Historical Society 650 Glen Avenue Ridgewood, NJ 07450

The Schoolhouse Museum-Ridgewood Historical Society

650 Glen Avenue

Ridgewood, NJ  07450

(201) 447-3242

RidgewoodHistoricalSociety@Verizon.net

Open: Sunday 2:00pm-4:00pm/Monday-Wednesday Closed/Thursday and Saturday: 1:00pm-3:00pm (please check the websites for changes in the schedule)

Admission: Donation $5.00

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46772-d10353516-Reviews-Schoolhouse_Museum-Ridgewood_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Ridgewood Schoolhouse Museum at 650 Glen Avenue

I have visited this interesting small history museum a few times and they do a wonderful job in presenting their displays with interesting facts catering not just to a local crowd, but anyone interested in history and events.

The historic marker outside the museum

The one-room schoolhouse, built in 1872, operated as a public school until 1905. It was part of the district school system formed in 1864 or 1865, which was geographically defined rather than by township. It was operated as School District No. 45. When the towns incorporated in 1894, that district system was dissolved, and the school became part of the Ridgewood school district.

Ridgewood Schoolhouse Museum II

The Ridgewood Schoolhouse Museum’s permanent collection

Tradition has it that the original land grant to the Dutch Reformed congregation from Pierre Fauconier and his daughter, Magdalena Valleau, stated that room should always be given upon the church land for a school. We know that a small school building opened in 1785. A second stone school was built in 1820 and eventually replaced by a frame structure in 1845.

Eventually the present schoolhouse was built in 1872 at a cost of $4600.00. It is likely that other schools existed on the church property from the time the church was built in 1735 to 1785, for the consistory assumed responsibility for education and the exact time when that responsibility was handed over to the public is not known.

The large bell summoned children from miles away to school each morning. The original belfry is gone but the bell stands in the entryway. It was used in other schools and a church after the school closed in 1905 but was returned to the historical society in 1977.

The original entry was divided into separate entrances and cloakrooms for boys and girls. The potbelly stove is original as are the windows and the two central lamps. The black boards around the room have been removed except for one behind the teacher’s platform.

There is a recreation of the old schoolhouse when you walk into the museum

When the Historical Society started the museum, the privy building was attached to the main building to provide more display area. In their special display area, they have an exhibition space for farming and a local comedian.

The schoolhouse display

In April 2018, they have a very interesting exhibition call “The Thread of Life” which tells the story of family’s progression in home life from the end of the Civil War until the beginning of the Depression and times changed between the Civil War and WWI. Between the Victorian Era, the sinking if the Titanic and the devastation of WWI, the baby boom of the teens and the ‘Roaring Twenties’ with the stock market built changed the attitudes.

The way of life for an entire generation until the Great Depression put a halt on it. You can see the changes of behavior in the displays of clothes and household decor. It is an interesting display.

A Morning Outfit during the Victorian Age

Union Army outfits and display for the “Civil War” artifacts

They also have an ongoing exhibition of farm equipment and a continuation of their “Farming in Bergen County” exhibition that just closed before this show. This is how farmers of Bergen County produced their crops. The Blauvelt, Zabriskie and Haring families are known farming family names in Bergen County and were important in business and politics during the after the Revolutionary War.

The “Farming and Agricultural” display

Also, see their ‘Halloween Cemetery Walk” in my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com” entry “This is Halloween” Day Ninety-Six, October 31, 2017. Don’t miss it this year!

Day Ninety-Six: This is Halloween-MywalkinManhattan.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/7062

The Cemetery Walks in October are extremely popular

Don’t miss the “Here comes the Brides” exhibition that just opened up in May of 2019. It shows the history of formal wear for weddings along with accessories, menswear, invitations and even cakes toppers.

Schoolhouse Museum II.jpg

‘Here comes the Bride’ Exhibition 2019

In July of 2020, as Phase Three of the Opening in the State of New Jersey, the Museum is now open from 2:00pm-4:00pm for viewing with a new exhibition “A” is for Artistry: Celebrating Centuries of Art, Artists & Creativity”. The exhibit is a combination of local donated art and heirlooms from Ridgewood and the surrounding towns.

The Exhibition “A is for Artistry”

There are interesting displays of early photography and portrait painting as a way of preserving a persons’ image for the future. The use of oil painting, tin and then photo ‘sittings’ came in vogue as the technology changed.

Portraits were the form of imagetry before photography was invented

There was an interesting display of Children’s toys from the handmade farm toys of clay and corn husks to the fancier toys of bisque and cloth when imports and specialty toy stores were created for children’s playthings. They even had a collection of the famous “Punch & Judy Dolls”.

The Punch & Judy Dolls at the “A is for Artistry” exhibition

Children’s playthings over the last two hundred years

Another standout of the exhibition was the display from General Westervelt, a local citizen of Bergen County whose shipping expertise helped the North during the Civil War. His use of navigation and sailing was a detriment to the South and there was a $1000.00 bounty on his head. He died during the Civil War.

The “Object Lessons-Treasures that tell our Stories” exhibition

In 2022, when the Museum reopened after a long closure with COVID, they opened with two exhibitions: One was “Object Lessons-Treasures that tell our stories”, in which household objects, farming equipment and all sorts of artifacts from the pre-Revolution, Revolutionary War and Civil War periods were shown. It showed the progression that life took for families between the Revolutionary War and the beginnings of the Victorian Age.

“American Revolutionary War” display

They had local Dutch family heirlooms such as chests, cabinets, china, clothing and even documents. The average Dutch family kept their family linens, china, silver and bedding in a locked chest as these were valuable family luxuries that needed protection and proper care.

Dutch Chest with family items that were locked up.

There was a “Lincoln display” at the museum. They had a copy of the poster from the night that President Lincoln was assassinated at Ford Theater during the performance of “My American Cousin”. There was a family shot of the Lincoln family and items from the period.

The “Lincoln Display” that showed an original poster from “Our American Cousin” the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

The other exhibition was “Toying with the Past: Antique Toys & Games”:

Toying with the Past was an interesting exhibition in that it showed how much toys have developed and changed over the years and how much they have stayed the same. There was a beautiful collection of china and bisque dolls, some that were made as playthings and others used as marketing tools to show women the latest fashions coming out of Europe. The dolls would be dressed in the dressmakers’ newest designs.

The Doll Collection is beautifully displayed

There were older versions of modern board games, everyday items like marbles and Jaxs. There were kitchen-based items that a little girl might be given to improve her domestic skills and there was even an early version of an “Easy Bake Oven”, with an electric oven that could be plugged in and boil water.

The items a young girl would receive to prepare her for homelife

Fancy rocking horses and dolls

Vehicles and Board Games that sparked children’s imagination

More dolls and vehicles over the last 100 years

There was also all sort of toys on wheels and rocking horses that could entertain a grumpy child for hours. They even had a selection of play clothes and school items to show what classroom work was like at the turn of the last century.

Childhood was changing for young people after the Civil War and during the Victorian Age

Special Events and Lectures at the Museum:

Don’t miss their ‘Cemetery Walks’ during the day. I took one recently at the old Dutch Reformed Church and we discussed the history of the church, the location of the old church versus the building of the new one, which is why the cemetery looks the way it does and the locations of the tombstones as well as how time and advancement in carving went from sandstone, which fades and chips over time when to the production of granite and marble for future tombstones.

The Cemetery Walks in Valleau Cemetery across from the museum

The cemetery is filled with names famous and prominent in Bergen County and North Jersey history which includes participation in the wars and the building of Bergen County including the Westervelt’s, Van Riper’s, Haring’s, Zabriskie’s, Terhune’s, Demerest’s, Blauvelt’s and Tice’s families. It is a fascinating place to learn Bergen County history and its development.

Ridgewood Cemetery Tour

The Cemetery Tours that take place the week before Halloween are interesting as well. The paths of the Valleau Cemetery in Ridgewood are lined with candles and you follow the path with the town historian who takes you on a creepy tour of the famous dead residents of Ridgewood. These include prominent athletes, business people and local laborers. You pretty much tour about a third of the cemetery as you move from one tombstone to another met by costumed actors, who they themselves have to sit in the cemetery in the dark waiting for you. That is a horror movie into itself.

The best part of the tour is you are greeted at the museum with a tour of the museum and a table laden with fresh apple cider and cider doughnuts that make the perfect refreshment on a cool fall evening. Make sure to take the 7:00pm tour when it is dark out and make the reservation well in advance as these tours fill up fast.

The Cemetery Walks are a fascinating look into Ridgewood, NJ’s past

Taking the Cemetery Tours is interesting!

Don’t miss their upcoming tours for Halloween, Christmas and their lecture series.

Please check out the museum’s website for all their very original special programming.