The Cadmus House was built in 1808 by landowner Jacob Haring and his wife, Margarat. It was originally a two room farmhouse when it was built on their extensive farm land. The Harings’ sold the house to Abraham and Harmones Van Derbeek in 1815 and they turned around and sold the house to Thomas Cadmus and his wife, Margaret in 1816 and the name stuck from there.
The Haring house originally and then it had a gable and second floor built in the late 19th century
More information on the Haring Family from the novel “A Dutch Family for the Middle Colonies” by author Firth Haring:
Over the years, the house had had many owners and many uses. Before the house was moved in 1985 to its current location, it served as a real estate office at that time. When they were building new construction on the spot, the house was saved by a group of concerned Fair Lawn residents to preserved the town’s past and it was turned into the Cadmus House-Fair Lawn Museum.
The house is broken down into different themed rooms. The downstairs rooms are devoted to the Fair Lawn’s past with pictures of old homes that used to line the streets of the neighborhood. There are pictures of old farms and farm houses, relics from town such as arrowheads, farming equipment and old farm house decor such as ice boxes and apple presses for cider.
Pictures of Fair Lawn’s past
In the room that once served as a dining room, there are period Dutch items that would be needed to run a household or a business.
The apple press which was a big part of the farming community in Bergen County
The upstairs rooms have different displays. One room is devoted to Victorian living with furniture and bedroom decors along with dolls and cribs. The other room is dedicated to the history of the Fair Lawn Fire and Police Departments as well as memorabilia from Fair Lawn High School such as trophies, yearbooks and old films of football games.
There is plenty of parking in the front of the house and the parking lot is shared with the railroad station next door. The house is only open the third Sunday of each month and it is closed for the months of July and August.
If you want to take a glimpse of Bergen County’s past Colonial, Victorian, Motor Age or current, the Cadmus House will give you a perspective on living in Bergen County in the past into current times.
The house now sits by the train station in Fairlawn, NJ
I have been to many special events at the Garretson Forge & Farm over the years, but COVID had put a stop to many of them since 2020. The farm is now back and running beautifully with the help of their roster of volunteers and master gardeners manning the grounds both in the front and back of the homestead.
In previous years when I have visited, I have toured the home visiting the indoor kitchen and display room that is the oldest part of the house which was built in 1719.
The signage in front of the house
The kitchen of the Garretson Forge is from the original structure of the house.
The cooking utensils at the Garretson Forge kitchen
The spinning at the Garretson Forge farm was part of life
The newer part of the house where spinning takes place and where you can see examples of Dutch furniture with chest for clothing and a rope bed, where the expression ‘sleep tight don’t let the bedbugs bite’ comes from. You had to tighten a rope bed with a key to tighten the ropes at night and the mattresses were either made from straw or if you were lucky, goose feathers.
The newer part of the home with the upstairs dormers was built in 1760.
The upstairs is the newest addition to the house
The Garretson Family tree
Inside the original part of the home is the family tree of the Garretson family who lived in the house for six generations from 1719 to 1972 when the last of the Garretson line, the husband of the wife who was a direct descendant died and the home was bought by a developer. The also have a collection of Presidential signatures that are kept under lock and key at night.
The Presidential Signature Room
The Living Room fireplace is right off the Signature Room
The kitchen in the original 1719 part of the home is decorated with period utensils, herbs and vegetables for drying and all the things you would need to prepare food for the long winter. These things would have been placed in the fruit cellar.
The Herb Garden right off the kitchen
The water pump and herb garden are right in back of the kitchen
Outside the home during the recent Harvest Festival that I attended in October 2022, you can visit all sorts of farming equipment, sleds, and hoes for using on the farm to grow plants.
The barn has herbs drying for the season and foods being stored. This along with farm equipment. These items have been brought from all over Bergen County.
The Fall Festival 2022 on October 9th, 2022
The other barn had period carriages and even a dairy vehicle delivery of milk and eggs to homes. There were items drying out in the barn for basketmaking and even in the back the tombstone of an original member of the family.
The Barn Vehicles
The barn equipment
The backyard of the home is an extensive number of plantings that the Master Gardeners maintain and many of the items grown on the property go to a foodbank in Paterson, NJ. I thought that was a very nice donation to give especially these days. I was able to walk through what was left of the vegetables and fruits that had not either been picked or went through their growing cycle.
Items drying in the barn
Activities at the Harvest Festival included making colonial dishes from original recipes including a roasting ham on the fire, pumpkin pie, chopped vegetables for stew and a stew that was cooking on the fire.
The bounty of Fall in Colonial America
Unfortunately, we were not able to sample these delicious looking items because of a food license but everything looked really good. They had everything laid out on the table as the ladies explained to me how things were cooked back then.
Roasting meats on the fire a traditional way
Here and there were tables of items for sale including snacks, crafts and vintage decorative items for the home. This helps raise money for the maintenance of the house.
There was also a plant sale where items grown on the property were being sold for people’s decorative gardens.
Before I left, the master gardener explained to me that the Chinese Chestnut Tree in the back of the property was a documented tree and was one of the oldest and largest in the State of New Jersey. They are not too sure who planted it years ago.
Their Harvest Festival was a lot of fun and there were lots to do for families with small children. This takes place every October.
The History of Garretson Forge & Farm:
Garretson Forge & Farm is one of the oldest historic sites in Bergen County, New Jersey. Settled in 1719, this Dutch Colonial homestead was home to six generations of the Garretson family. Their homestead remains a rare surviving example of a simple farming life that was prevalent in the 1700’s and 1800’s. It now functions as a living museum and a working farm, preserving our colonial past and agricultural heritage.
Located along an old Native American trail, about a mile north of Garretson Lane, is one of the original farms in Slooterdam, owned by the Dutch family of Peter Garretson. Today, more than 300 years later, the trail has come to be known as River Road, Garretson Lane is now called Broadway and Slooterdam has evolved into Fair Lawn, yet the original farmhouse and remaining grounds are still referred to as the Garretson Homestead.
In the 17th century, New Jersey was divided into the Provinces of East and West Jersey by its English proprietors, Lords Berkeley and Carteret. These lands were then sold to a group of Quakers headed by William Penn. By 1692, part of East Jersey, known as the Saddle River Tract, had been divided into large lots, one of which was sold to the Stillwell family.
The Garretson homestead stand on a portion of land that was acquired in 1708 by David Daniellse from the Stillwell family. A copy of the original propriety deed signed by King George of England and the Lenni Lenape Chief, Spotted Tail and granting the land to David Daniellse, is hanging in the homestead. The original property was bounded on the west by the Passaic River and on the east by the Saddle River. Peter Garretson purchased the property from Mr. Daniellse in 1719.
After Peter Garretson’s death, title to the land was passed from one generation to the next. From time-to-time parcels of the tract were sold. The present site consists of 1.84 acres along River Road.
The beauty of the Garretson Forge Farm in the Fall
The house is an example of Dutch Colonial architecture which is charismatic of Bergen, Passaic and Hudson Counties.
One and one-half stories high and built about 1719 of rubble and undressed stone, the current kitchen wing is considered by most to be the homestead. It features a large open-hearth fireplace typical of Flemish design of the late 1600’s. On a late nineteenth-century photograph of the house, remnants of a brick beehive oven can be seen on the outer wall.
Farming equipment outside the barn
In 1760, the larger section of the house was built using dressed stone. The sandstone blocks were held together with mortar made of river mud mixed with straw and hogs hair. It was under this section that fragments of clay pipes (c1720) were uncovered.
The farmhouse on River Road in Fairlawn, NJ
Extensive renovations were made to the house in 1902. The present gambrel roof replaced a steep gable roof; a front door was replaced with a window; an inner stairway to the basement replaced cellar hatches. A large center Victorian stairway to the second floor was also built and the open-hearth fireplaces were enclosed in the Victorian style. A large pillared porch was also added.
An early nineteenth century carriage house still stands on the property along with a large barn and several smaller outbuildings, the oldest of which is a small wooden structure built circa 1800 in the Dutch barn style.
The barn and carriage house
The Garretson Family:
The history of the Garretson family in America began in 1660 with the emigration of Gerrit Gerritse, his wife, Annetje Hermansse and their son, Gerrit from Wageningen, Gelderland (Netherlands). They arrived in New Amsterdam and proceeded to the town of Bergen, where in 1668, Gerrit (Sr) bought from Philip Carteret, eight parcels of land. The family resided in what is now the Communipaw section of Jersey City, where Gerrit died in October of 1696. His wife died on September 7, 1696.
Some of Gerrit Gerritse’s children took the name Van Wagenen, while others retained that of Garretson, from the name of their father. The descendants of Gerrit Gerritse, going by the surname of Garretson, Van Wegenen and Van Wagoner are today numerous throughout Bergen and Hudson Counties.
Mary Garretson’s Tombstone is located in the barn
Peter Garretson, grandson of the elder Gerrit Gerritse, purchased the Slooterdam Patent from David Daniellse in 1719. The house was built shortly afterwards. Six generations of the Garretson family resided on the farm until the death of Mary Garretson Brocker in 1950. Her widower, Feenix Brocker, remained at the homestead and continued farming until 1974.
Originally a homestead farm, subsistence and market crops were grown from the early 1700’s through the early 1970’s by the Garretson family.
The back of the house
Today, the gardens at Garretson continue an agricultural tradition. A variety of heirloom vegetables, all open-pollinated are grown in the kitchen garden using organic and sustainable practices. Produce in season is donated to a local emergency food pantry. An extensive herb garden contains over 75 types of medicinal and culinary herbs that were grown in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds.
The Garretson farm gardens behind the house are tended to by the master gardeners.
Garretson’s Butterfly Garden provides host plants and nectar sources for many different kinds of butterflies. Since 2005, Garretson has been certified by Monarch Watch as a Monarch Waystation (monarch habitat).
The Children’s Garden at Garretson abounds in spring ephemeral wildflowers, bulbs and ferns. In the heat of summer its offers a welcome place to sit in the shade. Gardeners have been restoring native plants to this woodland area.
The garden sheds behind the house
Many of the garden volunteers are Rutgers-trained Master Gardeners who have done their community service at Garretson and who give back to the community and Bergen County Master Gardener Program by training new gardeners at Garretson.
The gardens at the Garretson Forge farms behind the house
Garretson Forge and Farm Restoration Inc.:
The Garretson property was sold in 1974 to a private builder for residential value, community members became interested in acquiring the property for preservation. This led to the founding of the Garretson Forge and Farm Restoration Inc. in 1974 for the purpose of raising funds for the purchase. Through the efforts of the organization, the community at large and government agencies, the necessary funds were raised for the acquisition of the property.
GFFR Inc. continued to raise funds to maintain the site and to restore the kitchen to its eighteenth-century design. Money was also used to purchase artifacts and articles related to Garretson history.
The open kitchen at the Garretson Farm
In 1977, ownership of the property was accepted by the Freeholders of Bergen County. Now a county historical site, the Garretson homestead continues to be administered by the members of Garretson Forge and Farm Restoration Inc.
GFFR Inc. is a volunteer organization whose mission is to preserve and maintain the Garretson homestead, keeping it open to the public; to educate the greater community about local and state history; to foster environmentally sustainable agricultural practices and biodiversity.
Programs and Special Events:
Throughout the year, Garretson Forge and Farm offers.
Living history events:
*The Spring Festival celebrating colonial life and crafts in the 1700’s.
*The Fall Festival celebrating the harvest and the 1800’s farm.
Fall Festival 2022
Civil War Activities at the Garretson Forge
Civil War activities at the Fall Festival
Spinning wool and cloth making at the Fall Festival
*Dutch Christmas presenting a traditional Dutch celebration with the homestead decorated in Victorian style.
The Map and Signature galleries
Children’s toys at the Garretson Forge
*Open House and garden tours
*Lectures on the environment and on local history.
The Signature and Map Collection at Garretson Forge
*The Master Gardener Program
*Garden and craft workshops
*The annual Butterfly Festival for families.
Community Service Programs:
*Eagle Scout Projects
*Community Seed Bank
*Seasonal produce donations to local food banks.
For more information on events, please check out the website: