Open: Every First and Third Saturday of the Month (Please check with the website on weather conditions)
Admission: Free but donations accepted
My review on TripAdvisor:
I have been wanting this charming little museum for several months. This is one of the featured historical museums in Southern New Jersey. The museum is representing the local farming and manufacturing industries as well as life in a farming community at the turn of the last century.
The museum was started in 1994 in a partnership with the town of Woodbine, NJ and houses the history of Dennis Township. It is an all-volunteer museum, and the docents were really helpful describing all the displays that surround this small former schoolhouse. Their Friends of the Dennis Township Museum group does a nice job walking you around the museum and describing the displays.
The museum tells the story of a small-town farming community with a history of different local businesses, the Dennisville School district from 1874-1948 and the Methodist colony that was a big part of the community in the early 1800’s. The shipping industry was very important to any small town that used to supply its fruits, vegetables and fish to Philadelphia.
Some of the displays were dedicated to the local family businesses with the small cranberry industry that used to be in the area with equipment and packaging. The Mason Basket Company used to make the small and large wooden baskets for fruits and vegetables used to ship these items to both New York City and Philadelphia. These baskets are a staple at any farmers marker today. The other big business in town was the shingle making business that prided itself on supplying the shingles for Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
The building had been the local one room schoolhouse for the surrounding community from 1874-1948 until the new schools were built in the 1950’s. There was a display on the school’s history as well as lots of pictures of the students at the turn of the last century with their period clothing and proper manners taking pictures with their schoolteachers. There were displays of desks, clothing and items that would have been in the school room.
The town had once been a Methodist community with a large meeting house and surrounding homes for parishioners to stay. They showed the meetings and how the group would spend their summers in the area.
The museum showcased live in a small-town farming community with all sorts of farm and farmhouse equipment. There were all sorts of home making items like cooking utensils to make meals from scratch, baking and serving in homes where being a housewife took a lot of strength. The farm equipment included hoes, racks and seeders that kept the farms going.
There were pictures of the renovations of the Ludlam family cemetery that had gone through a renovation by the Boy Scouts and showcased it beauty. The members did a nice job renovating the tombstones and landscaping.
In the corners of the museum, there is period clothing from the Civil War to the 1930’s with hats, gloves and dressing plus accessories. There is a small display to the local veterans of war. Near the entrance there is a working pipe organ and more information about the town from the early 1900’s.
The docents told me that they have the old town records and that people come to the museum to research their families that used to live in the area. They have had people come from all over the country to find their family roots.
For a small museum, it is chock full of small displays offering a glimpse into a community of time past and how it has grown over the future and changed.
Take time also to drive around this small town loaded with historical homes that have been beautifully maintained and labeled with the year that they were built. Some looked like they had the family names on them.
I visited the Bergenfield Museum recently, a museum that I have to admit I never knew existed and I know almost all the museum in Bergen County and was surprised what an informative museum it was not just showcasing the history of Bergenfield but of Bergen County. Room by room the museum is filled with displays on the history of the town, and it has progressed through the last two hundred years.
The Bergenfield Museum at 100 Cooper Street
The museum is located in the back of Cooper Park towards the back of the pond. The museum is part of a complex of barns that were once small manufacturing companies owned by the families that owned the house. The grounds have the three barns that are not in use now and the home that overlooks the pond. This beautiful park was created during the Great Depression and is a wonderful place to just walk around in and relax from everyday life.
The history of the house and grounds of the Bergenfield Museum
Please note getting to the museum can be confusing as Google Maps and the museum diagram to get there are wrong. You will need to go down Ralph Road and then park before entering the complex. It is hard with the turnaround in the site to drive out with your car.
The entrance to the Bergenfield Museum at 100 Cooper Street
I was met with a very enthusiastic group of volunteers who are so proud of the house and the way it is presented to the public. When you enter the house, you are met in the foyer of the home which is filled with pictures and small displays and then led to what was the parlor room where the family would have all their entertainment and socializing. Inside the room there is a very interesting portrait of a mysterious woman, who even the museum docents do not who she is, located above the fireplace.
The room is decorated in period furnishings and even has one of the original phonographs. My docent, David, showed me how it worked and how you were able to get the volume up on the record player by opening one of the small doors in the cabinet.
The ‘starter’ organ in the Living Room
The room towards the back has an extensive collection of toys from the last one hundred years. There were several toys such a china dolls and metal ovens that were popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s to modern Fisher Price toys of the 1970’s that I remember growing up with as a kid. The site had once been a toy factory before the turn of the last century and these displays honor that history.
The Toy Room at the Bergenfield Museum is quite extensive
The museum is very much dedicated to the history of the Borough of Bergenfield, NJ. There are nice displays of the town’s school district and its history. The old school system pictures feature items from elementary school to high school and items that students would have used at the school. The elementary school featured in many of the pictures is still used by the town today according to my tour guide, David that afternoon. He told me he had attended the school growing up.
There was a small display of both the Bergenfield Fire and Police Departments and their progression through the years in the town. It is funny how much has changed cosmetically about the look of the job but the job itself is still the same. Helping people and keeping the town safe.
When you enter what was once the dining room, is the Chair Collection of Tunis Richard Cooper, whose factory was one of the barns on the property.
The Chair Factory rules
Some of the samples of the chairs manufactured at the barn factory
There were all sorts of makes and kinds of chairs throughout the room as well as many decorative pieces. The museum has an extensive collection of all the decorative furnishings that were made on the property including what the factory looked like and the rules and conduct of the employees working there.
The next room is the working kitchen of the original house with all sorts of kitchen equipment through the ages including a collection of toasters. There is also a working heart where the volunteers do some cooking.
Everything to keep a kitchen running
The hearth of the kitchen is where all the action was in the kitchen
The back room of the house has a large military display that includes local heroes of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI and the Vietnam War. There are all sorts of memorabilia from the soldiers and their families.
The Military display describes Bergenfield’s contribution to military battle from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam
The Military Room showcases our contributions on freedom
The patriotic duties of the town of Bergenfield, NJ
Take time to walk the grounds and admire the park. This beautiful green space was built by the WPA during the Depression and the landscaped park includes Cooper’s pond, extensive gardens and paths of green lawn.
The grounds of the museum were once a farm and a working factory environment
The factory/barn on the Bergenfield Museum property
The grounds of the Bergenfield Museum in Cooper’s Pond Park
Cooper’s Pond Park is a quiet and very green oasis from the distractions of today. It is a nice patch of nature to just walk around in and relax and enjoy the beautiful sunny weather.
The History of the Bergenfield Museum:
Two Hundred years after the founding of the United States, local historian, Betty Schmelz began collecting artifacts that were essential for telling Bergenfield’s story. By 1988, her small collection had blossomed into full museum displays comprised of a century’s worth of wedding dresses, Camp Merritt and WWI memorabilia and testaments to the Bergenfield Music Department.
The Bergenfield Music Department display
From 2002 to 2014, the museum closed, and the collection was moved to storage until negotiations were settled with the Borough of Bergenfield. In July of 2013, volunteers reassembled the items for public viewing and began rehabilitation efforts.
The Museum House Timeline:
(From the museum’s pamphlet)
The tools to create those wonderful and decorative chairs
The Tunis R. Cooper property was originally owned by French Huguenot immigrants, the Demarest family. After years of changed ownership and purpose, the legacy of the property is now protected by the Bergenfield Museum Society:
The timeline of the town and its development
*1677-1693: The Demarest family negotiates a deed for the Cooper Property with local Native Americans and settles throughout Schraalenburgh (now known as Bergen County).
*1840: Richard Tunis Cooper purchases the property and begins hiring local farmers to manufacture chairs.
*1849-1890’s: Richard’s son, Tunis Richard Cooper, purchases the property and establishes a successful chair factory. A major warehouse is opened in New York City.
*1897-1997: Ownership of the estate changes several more times:
-1897: Toymaker Oskar Martin, purchased the property.
-1908: Amos Bergman holds ownership until his death.
-1949: Bergman housekeeper, Daisy Coringrato, sells the property to wool importers, Alec and Catherine Marchbank.
*1997: Marchbank family initiates efforts to preserve the remaining Cooper Chair Factory and surrounding land.
*2004: The Borough of Bergenfield purchases the property with the four remaining buildings and solidifies preservation efforts.
*2013: The Bergenfield Museum successfully opens with a collection of authentic Bergen County artifacts.
I visited the Mauricetown (pronounced ‘Morristown’ like its northern neighbor) on a trip to visit historical societies in southern New Jersey. Mauricetown comes from the Dutch word ‘Mauritus’ for the Mauritus River that flowed through the town. “Maurice’ is the English version of the word.
The town itself was used for shipping and trade up and down the East Coast and between 1830 and 1902, 61 ships were built in the boatyard in the village. The home that the Society is housed in is one of many ship captains homes that was built on this side of town being closer to the river for the other ship captains. Founded in 1984, the Society has taken it upon themselves to start collecting artifacts from the town.
When you first enter the museum to the right, there is an extensive collection of seafaring items and military artifacts. This includes many items from the Civil War and WWI. There was even a rare pair of original sharp shoot glasses.
The Military Collection at the Mauricetown Historical Society (MHS Picture)
In the Formal Parlor, the room was designed with original molding from decor of the house and a copy of the wallpaper that had been found behind paneling that had been put up in the 1970’s. The room was furnished in period furniture that was a mixture of late 1890’s to the 1920’s.
The Mauricetown Historical Society ‘Parlor Room’ with the original molding and copy of wall paper
On the second floor, one room was dedicated to a Captain Bacon and his wife, Carolyn, another was full of pictures of the town of Mauricetown through the times, there was a collection of clothing through the ages and a quilt collection that was very impressive.
There was one quilt on display that had the names of all the sea captains and their families. Many of the decendants of the town come here to research their families and look at this quilt. There is also another quilt with items native to the area.
One of the rooms discusses the Mauricetown Shipping and Fishing industry with all sorts of photos and equipment. There was even a display of the ‘Bridge Key’ from the original bridge that lead into town. There was also an interesting display on the town’s Oyster Industry.
In the Children’s Room, there was an extensive collection of dolls, children’s playthings through the ages, clothing and school pictures of the town through the years.
On the outside grounds, there is a Cookhouse that was separate from the main house in the era of when cooking could start a house fire so the rooms were kept separate from the main house. There was a 1880’s cookstove that still works.
The Cookhouse on the grounds of the Mauricetown Historical Society
On the back of the ground is the Abraham and Ann Hoy House, a small home from 1840 that had recently been lived in by an elderly couple. The house had two small levels with the main rooms designed around the fireplace and heating unit.
The house had been stripped of the modern add ons and they Society wanted it to look like it had when it was originally built. The upstairs had two loft bedrooms and even a small loft above the downstairs fire place where the kids would sleep when it was cold outside.
It really showed how the working people of the town lived in a stark comparison to the sea captains who were running trade for the town. The Society’s members have taken great care in restoring these homes.
The Mauricetown Historical Society at 1229 Front Street
The History of the Mauricetown Historical Society:
(From the Mauricetown Historical Society website):
The Mission of the Mauricetown Historical Society:
It is the mission of the Mauricetown Historical Society to collect, preserve and exhibit artifacts and documentation significant to Mauricetown and the surrounding communities.
The Mauricetown Historical Society is housed in the former home of Captain Edward Compton, who was a local sea captain. This Italianate Victorian structure was built in 1864 by Mauricetown carpender Griffith Pritchard and Samuel Cobb.
The home was purchased in 1984 by the society. At the time, the property was in poor condition and required work inside and outside. Over the past 25 years it has been carefully restored to its present condition by volunteer efforts of society members and others. The restoration is an on-going project and there are still areas of work that are needing completion.
Situated directly across Front Street from the location of the old shipyard where sea-going vessels were built in the 19th and 20th centuries, occupants of this house were able to view the activities of the shipyard and the traffic of the river.
I got to the Church Landing Farm in plenty of to tour the house and the grounds. What an interesting museum that is full of surprises. When they unlock the sheds to show you the displays, they are a real wonder of fascinating artifacts each with its own theme.
The house was built by Daniel Garrison between 1840-1845 and was the home for five generations of the Garrison family up to 1973 when the last living relative, Anna Locuson died and did not leave an heir. In 1991, Atlantic City Electric worked with the Pennsville Township Historical Society to open this as a museum.
As I toured the floors with the docent, I noticed all the beautiful antiques. These items are all donations to the home. The only items of the Garrison family are portraits and pictures that were donated by the family over the years. On the lower floors are the kitchen, the Living Room and the Dining Room all decorated in a Victorian style. The kitchen looked like it was from the 1920’s with all sorts of kitchen items from a period of the 1880’s to the 1920’s.
When we toured the upstairs bedrooms, one was decorated with children’s furnishings and toys. The other bedroom was decorated for adults and had once served as the Master Bedroom for the home. The house also has a complete Research Library for people to find genealogy about their families who lived in town and of Pennsville, NJ.
When you tour the outside sheds, this is when the museum really shines. When each shed on the property is opened for the tour, you get to see the whole collection of artifacts. There is a small one room schoolhouse on the property that served the community from 1837-1919, a period outhouse and a piece of art from the old electrical building that was located on the bay.
Each of the sheds has its own theme. One of them is dedicated to the high schools with all their uniforms and trophies, yearbooks and pictures of various sports teams. There is all sorts of spirit equipment and high school artifacts.
Another is a floating Fishing Cabin that was moved to the ponds and lakes when people wanted to ice fish and all the equipment you needed to perform the task. There was another shed that had all sorts of Military artifacts from various wars along with items from the local fire and police departments as well as the VFW. There was a display on the “Sunbeam”, the local paper of Pennsville and its former editor.
The most impressive, shed display was of the Pennsville Beach Park, a former amusement park that was located in the current park until 1969. The display has all sorts of artifacts that include signs, old ride cars, signs, pictures, maps and items from the games. The are all sorts of items such as prizes that were won, pamphlets and signs from the park. It really brings the old park back to life.
One of the sheds is used as Santa’s House during the holidays as well as the house will be fully decorated for the Christmas holidays. Santa and his wife make an appearance at the busy open house.
Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Pennsville Historical Society
I was able to tour the grounds though and walk through the small gardens. The grounds had the most spectacular views of the Delaware Bay and the Delaware Memorial Bridge. I am sure much of this did not exist in that time frame but still it is the most amazing view especially on a sunny day like I had. The sun has the most amazing shine on the water from this direction.
Even when the house is not open, still take time to tour the grounds and visit the outer buildings. It is a nice walk around the property.
The History of the Church Landing Farmhouse/Penn Township Historical Society:
(From the Pennsville Township Historical Society website):
The Church Landing Farmhouse was built in 1840 by Daniel Garrison. In 1991, the Atlantic City Electric Company provided structural renovations to the house and a group of dedicated volunteers from the community restored the farmhouse and grounds to their current glory.
The Church Landing Farmhouse grounds currently house a 130 year old Floating Fishing Cabin, a 100 year old Wash House owned by Pennsville Physician Dr. James, the 100 year old Perry Farm Privy (the farm is located on the Pennsville-Salem Road), the Riverview Beach Park Museum, a 1929 Art Deco Tile from the original Deepwater Generating Station building, a one room Schoolhouse, and the historic records that features PMHA, Salem and SCCS Yearbooks, local genealogy, Township Obituaries (2010-2020), Federal NJ Township Census Records and local history.
The displays at the museum feature newspaper clipping and a section on local newsman Bill Gallo Jr., police, fire and military from the area, high school yearbooks and displays, ferry and excursion ships, antique looms, sewing machines and spinning wheels, antique tools and church records.