Hamilton-Van Wagoner House Museum
971 Valley Road
Clifton, NJ 07013
Open: Sunday 9:00am-5:00pm/Monday & Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm
Fee: Suggested Donation $5.00
I visited the Hamilton House Museum this afternoon which is right down the road from Montclair State College and sits at the border of the Clifton-Montclair border. The interesting part of the house location is that it still sits the farm land of the Van Wagoner Family but the house was moved from its location to the current one because of the building of Route 46 in 1973.
When talking with curator, the house is going through a transition from the City of Clifton ownership to the County of Passaic Historical Society’s site. They are currently cataloging every piece in the house and putting it online. They want to view the collection to see what they can work with within the home.
Each room represents a different time in the history of the house. There is a living room from the Victorian age, the kitchen is from the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s and the dining room is from the mid-1800’s. These rooms are furnished to represent a certain time in the house.
There will be many revisions in the future for the house so there are some changes on the way. The upstairs is currently being used for storage and there will be revision there as well. I got a quick tour of the rooms with the curator and he said there will be more changes in the future as they catalog each piece. The grounds are currently being replanted.
The Hamilton House Museum sits at the Clifton and Montclair border
The house is one of the last examples of early 19th century stone houses in Passaic County. The house was built in 1817 by John and Ann Vreeland and then passed to the Van Wagoner family. It changed hands a few times until 1856 when the Hamilton Family bought the house (no relationship to Alexander Hamilton). The house remained in the Hamilton Family until 1972 when the last living relative died and no one in the family wanted possession of the house (Tour Guide & Wiki). That’s when the City of Clifton bought the house from the family of its historic value. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 13th, 1982 (Wiki).
The outside grounds of The Hamilton House Museum
History of the Hamilton House:
(taken from the City of Clifton website)
This 18th Century Dutch gambrel-roofed homestead was once the home of the Van Wagoner and Hamilton families. This basic of the house does not greatly differ from its Dutch antecedents.
The sturdy one and one half story cut sandstone structure, flanked by a grainery, spring-house and gardens reflects almost two hundred years of American history. It brings back memories of an uncluttered horizon with farms, orchards, fresh brooks, forest full of game and filled with scent of wildflowers.
Hamilton House & the Clifton Community:
Although the City of Clifton was incorporated in 1917, a community had existed since 1679. Prior to 1917, the area was known as Acquackanonk Township and included parts of : Little Falls, Passaic, Paterson and West Paterson.
The Indian Chief Captahem deeded 11,000 acres to the early Dutch settlers on the shores of the Passaic River. Predominately rural, this sparsely populated village thrived and grew.
The farmhouse was presented to the City of Clifton by the developers of the late Henry Hamilton. The Hamilton family had bought the 96 acre property in 1856 and for over 100 years until the death of Mr. Hamilton in 1970, it had been the family home.
Current Location and Future Plans:
The house was moved to its present location in Surgent Park in 1973. Infinite plans have been taken with examination and documentation of the building’s structural elements. Extensive research has been conducted including the records and treasured memories of Miss Caroline Hamilton as well as: Artifacts, Deeds, Manuscripts, Maps, Photographs and Wills.
The museum is opened for tours on Sunday from 2:00pm-4:00pm (except on holidays). The house is going through a transition right now with the change over.