Tag Archives: NJ Museums

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presents "From Revolution to Renewal"

Day One Hundred and Sixty-Five: Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presents “From Revolution to Renewal-Exploring Historic Bergen County, NJ” Essentials of Marketing Class Project-Bergen Community College April 27th, 2020

I had the most interesting semester for Spring Term at the college where I work. Everything started off fine. We had classes in the the afternoon, good discussions on Marketing and had a very successful Team Project marketing the Lyndhurst Snack Shop, the new Bulldog Cafe, for business (See Day One Hundred and Fifty-Nine in MywalkinManhattan.com):

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/12969

BCC Bulldogs

The Bulldog Cafe on the Third Floor of the Bergen Community College Campus

https://www.facebook.com/gdsbulldogcafe/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46586-d20210133-Reviews-Bulldog_Cafe-Lyndhurst_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Project I gave the students:

BCC-Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Snack Shop Project 2020

I had just handed out the next Team Project, “From Revolution to Renewal: Exploring the  Historic Bergen County”, a major tourism project I wanted to the students to work on for the remainder of the semester the week before the break. I had the students to break up into groups and get to know one another and get their game plans in order before the Midterm. We had only one class to introduce the project and they set their group chats up and introduced themselves. The next week I gave the Midterm and then left for the Spring Break.

Easton Tower: From Revolution to Renewal
Easton Tower is located in Paramus, NJ right next to the Garden State Plaza. It was the theme for our project “From Revolution to Renewal: Exploring Historic Bergen County”.

Here’s the project I gave the students:

BCC-Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. 2020 Project III Lyndhurst Team

This project had been inspired by a couple of things. One was the fact that many of these students did not know their own County. They knew nothing of its history let alone had ever really explored it. It amazed me how many of them did not know the history of the towns they lived in and if there was a well-known cultural site in the town they lived in they never visited it. A few students said to me when I asked had they visited this or that in their town the answer always seemed to be “well I passed it but never really noticed it.”

Another thing that inspired the project was the Northwest Bergen Historical Coalition. Every year this historical group runs a “History Day” for the historical sites of northwest Bergen County. When I asked a friend who worked for the County why they did not have a weekend with all the sights in Bergen County, she said that it would be too difficult to put together. That was what I needed to hear to put this project together. To prove that it could be done.

Northwest Bergen History Coalition “History Day”:

http://www.nwbergenhistory.org/

The Northwest Bergen History Coalition video

 

It wasn’t just that. Many of the these sites were never visited and some were only open once or twice a year to visitors because their volunteers were getting too old. Many people were not taking these sites seriously in the role they played in not just the formation of the County but the United States. When you really read the history of the people who lived there or what the site meant, it was interesting to see what role it played in the history of Bergen County.

As I said in my previous blog on my Introduction to Business class creating the Ambassador Program, it was a harder go with my Essentials in Marketing class. They were a younger group who did not know much about the history of Bergen County let alone their own towns. I had poised the question many times in class about where they had visited in the County and mentioned many historical sites in towns which they lived in. Only a few had ever visited them or if they had had been way back in elementary school when it was considered part of a school field trip.

This is when I created “From Revolution to Renewal: A Historical Weekend in Bergen County, NJ”. This would be a two day weekend with an opening private cocktail party of the Arts Community and VIP’s followed by a two day tour of all of Bergen County’s historical sites with side trips to our wonderful historical restaurants and a scavenger hunt to wrap it all up.

I had started to arrange a series of field trips that we were going to take over the last week of school and the first week of Spring Break. I had planned a trip to Downtown Hackensack, NJ to see the Courthouse, visit two Dutch Reformed Churches and the cemeteries and then visit White Mana, a very well-known hamburger place that has been around since the 1940’s.

Bergen County Courthouse

The Bergen County Courthouse, The Green and the Dutch Reformed Church in Downtown Hackensack, NJ

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergen_County_Court_House

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/926

 

Our second field trip was going to be to The Pascack Historical Society, the Dutch Reformed Church, the Wortendyke Barn and then a tasting at Demerest Farms, a well known farm stand in Hillsdale,NJ.

Pascack Historical Society

The Pascack Historical Society in Oakland, NJ

Home

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46713-d12610386-Reviews-Pascack_Historical_Society_Museum-Park_Ridge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/1147

 

Another field trip that I started to look into was the Aviation Hall of Fame in Teterboro, NJ and then a tasting at Spindler’s Bakery and Lovey’s Pizzeria in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ and then on to Mills Bakery in Wood Ridge, NJ.

Mills Bakery

Mills Bakery in Wood Ridge, NJ

Home

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46937-d4735011-Reviews-Mills_Bakery-Wood_Ridge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/463

 

I was doing this while running in and out of New York City for the Restaurant Show and a Michigan State University Alumni Night for the Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State University. I was just getting everything organized and then planning a quick trip to visit my mother when all hell broke loose and the government started to shut everything down. From a Wednesday Membership Night at the Met Breuer to a Thursday morning shut down of New York City and all air travel to Europe, the world changed.

Our Spring Break was extended a week to see what the State of New Jersey was going to do with the educational system and with that at the end of the week we were informed that we would not be returning to school. Not only did that mean no field trips it meant no more live class and I would not be seeing my students again. I was not sure how like my other class we were going to pull this project off.

None of my students had visited practically any of these sites or been to any of the restaurants on the project. Almost everything was closed. You could see some of the sites like the churches and memorials from the street but everything inside was closed. Everything would have to be done online.

The one thing I did have was belief in the class that they could do the work. I had been so impressed by their work on the Snack Shop project that I knew they could do the work. It was the intense research that would have to be done online. A crisis is when you see the best in people. I did.

While my other class had a better head start of the Student Ambassador Project, my Historic Bergen County Team had a lot of ingenuity. The one thing they didn’t know was the history of Bergen County, NJ. I could have asked them to visit some of the sites around the County which would not have been hard as the Reformed Dutch churches could be seen from the sidewalks as well as the cemeteries that surrounded them.

Places like the Camp Merrill Memorial and the Baylor Massacre site were open to the public in obscure areas and not in big parks that would have been closed during the pandemic so it would have been no problem visiting them. I did not want to put anyone at risk of anything at this time so I nixed them leaving their homes. I just did not want to be responsible for anyone getting sick.

 

Baylor Massacre Site

The Baylor Massacre site in Rivervale, NJ

https://www.rivervalenj.org/233/Baylor-Massacre

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46777-d12277914-Reviews-Baylor_Massacre_Burial_Site-River_Vale_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/30

 

Once we realized that we were not returning, I started to contact the President and Senior Vice-President of Operations who I chose for the project and started to get underway. Just like my other class, the students all had their own situations. Some students got sick, some just did not communicate with me, some had changes in their family situations and some had communications problems with me. On top of all of this, the Teams of Student Consultants regrouped and really worked their butts off to make it work.

The Talent Team who was responsible for for setting up the salaries and benefits for the three month Division formation had already started doing their work. They had found the location for the office before the break and had a lot of ideas they were contemplating during the break. Since the two Teams of students from Paramus and Lyndhurst would not be meeting up as I had originally planned, I had the Lyndhurst Team develop their own unique plan for their Division of the company.

The Talent Division set up their office design, created a Wrap Up party for the Division, created a set of ‘perks’ for the Division staff and developed a very fair package of benefits for the staff (see their website below).

The Marketing Division I created for the Team Project had the bulk of the work. I broke the Division down into three sections:

The Historical Museums/Parks/Homes & Zoo Division was responsible doing the research on every historic tourist site in the County. This included the historical homes, churches, parks, cemeteries, monuments and the zoo. They had to do the research on each and then for the website put together a small bio on them so that tourists could find them when using the website on their smartphones. This also included a Scavenger Hunt in the buildings that they had never been inside of before.

They also had to set up a cocktail party opening event at The Gallery Bergen, our on campus art gallery at Bergen Community College. The cocktail party was being created for Museum Curators, Historians, members of the Arts Community, Artists and VIP’s from the County.

The second Division was the Historical Restaurant Division whose job it was to find restaurants all over the County that predated 1980. We were looking showcase well-known restaurants with years of longevity in the County that were well-known not just in the community but around the country with foodies. Places like White Mana in Hackensack, NJ and Hirim’s Hot Dogs in Fort Lee, NJ.

White Manna

White Manna at 358 River Street in Hackensack, NJ

https://www.whitemanna.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46480-d458302-Reviews-White_Manna-Hackensack_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

The Third Division of the Marketing Team was the History Division whose job it was to research Bergen County’s History from the Lennape Settlements with the Dutch to the Revolutionary War to World War II. Bergen County played such a huge role in all the wars from setting up and training troops to munitions being developed here to battle grounds between the wars.

They were also responsible for researching a list of the ‘first family’s’ of Bergen County. People like the Zabriskie’s, the Demerest’s, the Terhune’s and the Haring’s played a big part not just in the development of Bergen County but in the formation of the United States especially during the Revolutionary War.

The Marketing Division itself was responsible for for creating the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. websites for the client that were eventually merged into one. The Marketing Team would be gathering information from the three Teams that made up the Division and create the site for tourists and residents who were going to attend the three day History Event.

They were also responsible for filming two commercials. One commercial would be on the role of Bergen County in the United States foundation from the Revolutionary War to World War II.

The Team’s commercial on the ‘History of Bergen County’ for “From Revolution to Renewal-A Historical Weekend in Bergen County, NJ”

The second would be inviting people to come to visit Bergen County and all it has to offer:

The Team’s commercial on “Welcoming people to Bergen County, NJ” in many languages for “From Revolution to Renewal-A Historical Weekend in Bergen County, NJ”

 

This was a very extensive project and I could not wait to come back to school after the break and start the project. When I took my students ‘out into the field’ (ie field trips) to the location, these projects made more sense to the class. The field trips to Paterson, NJ and to the Snack Shop on the Bergen Community College Lyndhurst, NJ campus resulted in extremely creative work and the students being able to see first hand what it was they were marketing. This would be put to the test when we did not return to the college.

I have to say of all my classes, I have never seen a collective of students regroup and get the job done. The Talent Team was very diligent and got their work done on a timely basis. My senior executives for that division lead their Team and created a game plan to get their job accomplished.

It was much harder in our Historical Division in that there was a lot of research to do with each site, restaurant and family that had to be carefully explored and researched in detail. It was not so easy with no access to certain books as all libraries were shut down and not everything was on an Ebook.

Almost all the restaurants on the list were not open at the time of the project (a lot of them have since opened for take out only) and since this was a younger group of students, they did not know a lot of the restaurants that had been opened for years. Here I was able to assist as a CEO and be able to add to the project. With the help of my aunt, who had lived in Bergen County since the 1950’s, we were able to create a list of about thirty five restaurants, candy and ice cream stores and bakeries all over Bergen County that tourists and residents alike would enjoy when they were touring on the Historical Weekend.

Since all the cemeteries and churches were off limits for the duration of the project (they have now started to open), everything had to be done online by the help of Google. All the wonderful historic cemeteries that we were going to tour in Ridgewood, Hackensack, Dumont and Bergenfield were closed to us and I would not be able to show the significance of the families and how they intertwined with marriage.

Dutch Reformed Church of Hackensack II

The Dutch Reformed Church and cemetery on the Green in Hackensack, NJ

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/1891

 

It was a rough first two weeks as communication was limited to just campus email but as things like Zoom and WebEx video conferencing started to be introduced then we were raring to go. My students were already group chatting and video conferencing with each other before my training was over and then it was ‘Zooming’ in meetings for the rest of the semester.

Some of my students needed to learn how to time prioritize and some of them needed to take their work much more seriously but when I read their final papers on the project, I realized that was not always so easy.

Some students were taking care of loved ones who were sick or had been sick themselves, some had multiple classes and not much access to computers and had professor’s like myself emailing them all the time so they got over-whelmed. It was a real challenge but I knew this Team of Student Consultants was up for the sense of self-accomplishment.

For the  next three weeks before the Monday, April 27th presentation, I have never emailed so many people so many times answering questions, trying to find information and trying to guide people to doing their best work.

One of the attributes I let the students use was my blog site, VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://visitingamuseum.com/

This way it would save them time in their research. I had found when I was putting the site together that many of these smaller historical sites in Bergen County did not even have their own websites. We also discovered as a Team that there was no site in the County or in the State that showed off all of Bergen County attributes.

To add to the historical sites and the historical restaurants, I had all the students in both classes do research on every town in Bergen County to add to the website. This way it would tie everything you needed to know about the County with the families, where they lived, who they were, how they played a role in the development of the County, the towns that they lived in and by the way when you are visiting all the great long service restaurants to dine at for the weekend.

All of this was a major challenge as the Team had never put a website together and the one that the mythical client,  the New Jersey Historical Guild of Bergen County, had wanted had an interactive map. This all had to be created from scratch.

I am not sure what went on behind the scenes as I was not privy to the Group Chat but I could tell there was a lot of conversation back and forth on everything. I was lucky that I created an Executive Team who saw this as a challenge themselves. Nothing like this had ever been attempted by the County or the State of New Jersey Tourism that I knew of in past history.

On Monday, April 27th at 11:00am, the students presented me their Power Point Presentation and their commercials. If ever there was a Professor that was prouder of his students, it was me. The Team took all the proposed ideas that I came up with plus adding the history of every town in Bergen County (all 70 of them) and came up with a very creative website not just for the Historical Sites, History of the Country and Historic Restaurants but the Talent Division created their own website as well.

The Power Point presentation was attended not just by myself  but with other members of the Historical Community of Bergen County and that made the presentation really special that the students would get that feedback.

I have to say that I was totally blown away by not just the Power Point Presentation but by the commercials and the websites that they created. The one thing I knew is that the global pandemic did not stop this Team of students from accomplishing the task.

Both of my classes exceeded and impressed me with all of their ideas. Hats off to all the students involved in both projects. You should be proud of yourselves!

Here is the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Historical Website of Bergen County, NJ:

https://bergecooparc.wixsite.com/bergen

 

Here is the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Lyndhurst Talent Team website:

https://bergenconsulting2.wixsite.com/bergeccoparc

 

Here is the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. website that contains the Power Point for the Project and all the commercials:

https://bcpccom.wordpress.com/

 

Again, congratulations to everyone who made this possible. You did an excellent job!

Justin Watral

Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Co-Founder

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

Bergecco-Parc Logo

Solar Eclispe in Newark NJ

Day Eighty-Six: Traveling to the Newark Museum in Newark, NJ for the Solar Eclipse August 21st, 2017

We had the first Solar Eclipse travel across the United States since 1979 and at first, most people did not make a fuss over it but as the time approached, everyone started to ‘freak out’ that they must see it. I just wanted to avoid New York City that day and see it somewhere else.

I had a member’s invitation to see it at the American Museum of Natural History but I wanted to avoid the city today and that museum as I knew it was going to be packed and we would all be shoved into Rose Hall where the planetarium was located. It was not that I thought it would be done wrong but I did not want to deal with the crowds at the AMNH.

At the last minute, the Newark Museum in Newark, NJ (See review on TripAdvisor and my blog “VisitingaMuseum”) had a special function for the day where you could get the eclipse glasses and see the show. They did not know what they were in for as the crowd at the museum swelled into over 500 people. They did not have enough of anything for all the people that came. The line was still going on when I got to the front of the line. They ran out of glasses when I got there but they provided me with a ‘pin-hole’ paper so that  I could see the eclipse though the hole. I was lucky people were willing to share their glasses.

Newark Museum

The Newark Museum

In New Jersey, we were so far from the path of the moon that we only got to see about 75% covering of the sun, so it was still bright out by us. So you really needed the glasses. It was so interesting to see the moon cover the sun and it moved ever so slowly. The display started at around 2:45pm EST and like I said you would never know it was happening because of the light of the sun. Some people said they noticed the difference but I didn’t see or feel anything different.

Horizon Plaza and the Garden area were mobbed with people from 2:45pm to about 3:30pm and they had the path of the sun and moon on TV on live stream inside the museum at the auditorium. I swear, the dopey things people will say on camera just to be on TV.

solar eclispe

What the Eclipse looked like down South where the eye of it was

The reporters didn’t even know what to ask once it was over. Some people really got into it and most seemed to care less. I thought it was interesting to see this cosmic display. When it happened in 1979, I was in high school and I don’t even remember anyone talking about and thinking back to it, I think it was a cloudy day that afternoon.

This is a documentary by NASA

I left around 4:00pm when the path crossed and people got tired looking up. I could also feel the strain on my eyes. The nice part was I took the bus from home and did not have to tackle their parking lot. Lunch was at Central Restaurant, 30 Central Avenue, Downtown Newark, for an amazing meal (See review on TripAdvisor and my blog ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC’).

Central Restaurant

Central Restaurant in Newark, NJ

The next time this will happen will be in 2024 so we have some time and will travel from Texas to Maine. So maybe we will get a better view next time. Otherwise, I thought it was pretty awesome.

 

Places to Visit:

 

The Newark Museum

49 Washington Street

Newark, NJ 07102

(973) 596-6550

Open: Wednesday-Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm/Closed Monday and Tuesday

https://www.newarkmuseum.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46671-d217958-Reviews-Newark_Museum-Newark_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1818

 

Places to Eat:

 

Central Restaurant

30 Central Avenue Street 4

Newark, NJ  07102

((73) 623-8137

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Central-Restaurant/111649452205238

Open: Monday-Saturday 5:00am-7:00pm/Sunday 7:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46671-d5052680-Reviews-Central_Restaurant-Newark_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/294

The Hermitage in Ho Ho Kus, NJ

Day Forty-Three: The Northwest Bergen History Coalition 6th Annual History Day Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Northwest Bergen History Coalition
6th Annual History Day
Theme: Spreading the News: Rail, Mail & the Press in Days Gone By

BC History Coalition

Special Exhibitions at each Museum

Come discover how we communicated when letter were left at the local inn, when postcards were our ‘twitter feed’ and the operator listened to all our calls on the party line. See how mail was delivered by train and what our local newspapers were like in 1900.

I took a day out of touring in the city to tour my own county, Bergen County, New Jersey is rich in Revolutionary, Civil and WWI &II history yet we still have a big link to our Colonial past in each town in Bergen County.

The unfortunate part of this tour is that it only covers a small portion of the county and it was hard to get to all of the sites in one day and really see them once a docent took over. I just didn’t want to leave the sites quickly because each tour was special in its own way.

I got off to a late start and got lost in Ridgewood because the Map Quest was not very good in describing the location of the first site on the west side of Route 17 South on the Ridgewood side of the highway. From there it just got easier.

My first stop was at the Schoolhouse Museum at 650 East Glen Avenue in Ridgewood, NJ (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). This quirky little school house sits at the edge of a vast cemetery next to Route 17 South in Ridgewood.

The School House Museum, built in 1872, is maintained by the Ridgewood Historical Society. This year’s exhibit is ‘Farm to Home: Exploring Our Agrarian Roots with Artifacts from the 18th and 19th Centuries’. Objects on display include early Dutch artifacts, farm tools, home furnishings, quilts, coverlets, pottery and tin ware. During the Spring, there will also be a special small exhibit featuring letters and writing tools as well as newspapers communicating important events. For History Day only, a letter from George Washington will be on display. The current exhibition is called ‘Farm & Home: Exploring our Agrarian Roots with Artifacts from the 18th & 19th centuries’. The museum is open from 1:00pm-3:00pm on Thursdays and Saturdays and 2:00pm-4:00pm on Sundays.

Schoolhouse Museum Ridgewood.png

Schoolhouse Museum at 650 East Glen Avenue in Ridgewood, NJ

I bought my pass here to start the tour and a nice donation of $10.00 let me into all the sites on the tour. Since I was the first one to the museum, I got a personal tour by Dot, a retired teacher from Ridgewood who taught in Hasbrouck Heights. It’s a small world.

The Schoolhouse Museum is a step back into Bergen County’s rural past with many interesting displays from the Lenape Indians who first lived in the area and taught the Dutch how to farm and fish to early Colonial clothing and its purpose when working. The displays were beautifully presented and well noted by their cards. The section on cooking utensils and their changes over time with modernization was interesting. How to bake on an open hearth versus a modern cast iron grill is the difference from a rotary phone to a smartphone.

The fact that many of these items came from people’s basements and private dwellings was the most interesting part. That people kept these heirlooms for so long and then gave them up when they moved and donated them to the museum really tells the story of Ridgewood’s farming past.

We had good conversation for over an hour and the ladies volunteering that day invited me back in the future and then provided me with chocolate bites and bottled water, which I thought was a nice touch.

My next stop on the tour was The Hermitage located at 335 North Franklin Turnpike in Ho Ho Kus, New Jersey (see my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). The old homestead sits on a rather large parcel in the middle of a residential and commercial area that shows how time has progressed on in this town.

Hermitage at Halloween

The Hermitage at 335 North Franklin Turnpike in Ho Ho Kus, NJ at Halloween

The Hermitage, a National Historic Landmark and house museum, incorporates an 18th century stone house that was visited during the Revolutionary War by General George Washington. It was also the site of the marriage of Aaron Burr and Theodosia Prevost. Its picturesque Gothic Design dates to the 1847-48 Gothic Revival renovation by architect William Ranlett for Elijah Rosencrantz. The house was willed to the State of New Jersey by his granddaughter Mary Elizabeth in 1970 and is furnished as it appeared in the 1890’s. A special exhibition in the 1888 summer kitchen honors the legacy of Bergen County historian, Claire K. Tholl. Her maps, books and drawings are on display.

The Hermitage Museum

The Hermitage in the Summer months

Bumping your head on some of these tours is easy as parts of the homes visited were built when people must have been smaller. When you start the tour of the Hermitage, you enter through the kitchen which was built in the late 1700’s and it is small. The rest of the house was built before the Civil War with high ceilings and a more Victorian flair. The rest of the house had been modernized in the 1920’s.

The later history was hardly the glory days of when Aaron Burr married there. The last of the Rosencrantz descendants had gone broke after the Crash and their source of income which was a tearoom to traveling tourists from New York City when the Franklin Turnpike was a major thoroughfare, had dried up as fewer cars were traveling through the area. It had gotten to the point where the family was living in the back room of the house and the rest of the house was shut down. The house is still in need of a lot of repairs so donations are accepted by the foundation. It is an unique house with an interesting history so take the time and tour the house in detail.

The next home on the tour was The John Fell House at 475 Franklin Turnpike in Allendale, New Jersey (see my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). The house was vacated by the former owner and was scheduled to be knocked down for townhouses. The community rallied together and saved the house from the wrecking ball. Now the house is being renovated room by room to its former glory.

John Fell House

The John Fell House at 475 Franklin Turnpike in Allendale, NJ

The historic John Fell House is named in recognition of Founding Father, John Fell, a revolutionary war patriot, who purchased the property circa 1766. The house was also home to Colonel Joseph Warner Allen, a Civil War hero for whom Allendale is named.

This 22 room Colonial Revival mansion was home to a Founding Father, a Civil War Colonel and a Sunday School that led to the first church in Allendale. The stately house is set on a hill on 2.8 acres near the center of town. The property also includes a late 19th Century Barn, exceptional wetlands and a stand of old-growth.

The history is very unique. John Fell led the local resistance movement against the British. He was arrested at the house by 25 armed Loyalist and imprisoned in New York City, where he kept a secret diary documenting the British Army’s horrific treatment of American prisoners of war. Located across the street from the house is the Celery Farm Natural Area, 107 acres of wetlands and woods originally known as “Wolf Swamp” and later “Fell’s Meadows”, which was originally part of the Fell estate.

The home, which was built circa 1760 and originally called Peterfield, has had several subsequent owners, including John H. Thompson, John G. Ackerman, the Stephen Cable family and the Joseph B. Taylor family, who enlarged it in the Colonial Revival style in the early 1900’s. Colonel Joseph Warner Allen for whom Allendale is named, stayed at the house while he surveyed the route for the Paterson-Ramapo Railroad. He was a key New Jersey figure at the beginning of the Civil War. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Exhibits will include recreations of early 18th and 19th century broadsides, early local 20th century newspapers featuring historic military news, copies of historic letters, photos and railroad news. Jim Wright gave a brief talk and a slide show on “Revolutionary Communications: Getting the Word Out in John Fell’s Day.”

The Fell House is owned and operated by the Concerned Citizens of Allendale, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit group, which saved the house looked mostly modern to me as it had just been lived in by a family before the sale. The exterior of the house needs lots of work saved the property from being bulldozed to make way for a controversial townhouse development. The house is home to a tearoom, community events, school events, nature programs and an annual holiday open house.

The organization has also developed several history programs that inform the public and students about the history of the John Fell House, including reenactments of his arrest at the house. During every open house, docents inform visitors of the timeline of the house and its important role in American history. Historic preservationists have studied the house and produced a Preservation Plan that document the history of the home, barn and landscape while suggesting how to best restore, preserve and maintain the house and property. As a member of the Northwest Bergen History Coalition, the organization works with eight other historical sites to encourage both children and adults to learn about the region’s amazing history. (The Historic John Fell House Pamphlet)

The house tour was very interesting and the docents lead some of us to the outside grounds to show some of us some new discoveries such as an old well that was discovered. The only problem with the tour was that house was modernized for current times as it was a private home until just recently and needs more period furniture and decorations to it. While the outside looks historical on the outside, the interior is quite modern. The Fell House has a rich history but is a work in progress. It is still worth the trip just to see the grounds and hear about its rich history.

The next site on the tour was The Waldwick Signal Tower at 1 Bohnert Place, which had just finished a renovation (see my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). The tower sits in a rather obscure place by the railroad tracks up the tracks from the station. You have to make several twists and turns to get to the tower.

Waldwick Signal Tower

Waldwick Signal Tower at 1 Bohnert Place in Waldwick, NJ

Built in 1890 by the New York Lake Erie and Western Railroad, the Waldwick Signal Tower was the key to the movement of railroad traffic within the newly created yard facility. Eventually it also handled 4 tracks of heavy m service on the Erie’s route between New York and Chicago. Manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week for over 50 years, it was also the hub for maintenance of the signal systems between Ridgewood, NJ and Suffern, NY. The tower museum is dedicated to the railroad workers of the area and educates visitors about the variety of jobs and operations of the Waldwick Facility. Check http://www.allaboardwaldwick.org for a schedule of events. (Historical pamphlet)

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 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 bough’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 a 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. Michael Brunkhorst and Glen Corbett banded together a group of citizens to form the All Aboard committee of Waldwick’s Historical Society. Curtis Springstead of Wanaque who is the great-great grandson of the renowned locomotive engineer Harvey Springstead, 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 and grant applications were filed. The response of the number of supporters including Mr. Robert Keeble have given this project a solid start. Meticulous measures are currently being made can now be witnessed at the track end of Bohnert Place, to maintain the tower’s historic 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 stage of it’s restoration.

Mission Statement: The All Aboard continues seeking membership and financial support to complete the tower with the vision of becoming “The Harvey Springstead 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. (All Aboard Pamphlet of the Waldwick Historical Society).

I was the only one at the tower that part of the afternoon. It was a colorfully decorated tower full of pictures and timelines. The docent who was there that afternoon could not believe the number of visitors that the tower was getting that afternoon. I told him if it were not for the tour, I would have never known the tower even existed. The history of the tower and how it played a role in the town of Waldwick. It was considered very innovative at that time. The fact that it was still being used into the 80’s was pretty amazing. Now they want to bring back some of the equipment that was being used at the time that is just sitting in warehouses. It will be an interesting place to revisit once those items are put into place.

I double backed on the tour with only an hour left and I went to the Zabriskie House at 421 Franklin Avenue in Wyckoff, New Jersey (See my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). This old home is a combination of historic home and modern day living as it was in the family’s hands until 1973.

Zabriskie House

Zabriskie House 421 Franklin Turnpike in Wyckoff, NJ

The original stone structure of the house was built by William Van Voor Haze in 1730 on a 550 acre of tract of land and is believed to be the oldest house in Wyckoff. Prior to 1806, a small parcel of land was purchased from William’s son and heir, Albert, to build the Wyckoff Reformed Church. In 1824, Albert completed a major addition to the house in the classically Dutch Colonial style and the original section of the home became the dining room.

The house was purchased by Uriah Quackenbush in 1867 and was willed to his granddaughter, Grace Quackenbush Zabriskie, the wife of the late County Judge John B. Zabriskie. In 1964, Mrs. Zabriskie, the last resident owner, donated the pond and the surrounding acreage to the township of Wyckoff. Upon her death in 1973, she bequeathed the house and the antique furnishings to the town. Throughout its history, the Zabriskie House has been used, at different times, as a village store, a candy store, a tavern, a hotel and a ballroom.

Under the guidance of the house’s Trustees, the Zabriskie House is continuing restoration for future generations to enjoy. The Trustees have recently overseen extensive work on the porch and stairs, re-oiling of the roof, stone step repairs and limited gutter installation. Children can try colonial toys and all can guess the at the ‘What It’ table.

This was one of the quickest tours I went on as the house was closing down for the day and I was in the kitchen looking at one of the docent’s daughter’s wedding pictures. I excused myself and walked through out the house. It had been left the way it had when Mrs. Zabriskie was still living there. There were many antiques mixed in with the modern furniture. Nothing remains of the original owners but the docents told me that a clock was still in the house from the Quackenbush family. Most everything left in the house was owned by Mrs. Zabriskie.

The docents described all the rooms to me and how the house was added on through the years. Watch your head as some of the places have low ceilings. The kitchen really gives you an idea of how old the home really is in comparison to the rest of the house. It was a nice mix of the old and the new. At the end of the tour, the members of their Friends group had the nicest selection of homemade treats and lemonade. It was nice to talk to members and what goals they have for the house. It looks over the pond in the park next door and is a picturesque view.

I had just enough time to visit my last house, the Van Allen House at 3 Franklin Avenue (corner of Route 202 & Franklin Avenue) in Oakland, New Jersey. Most of the volunteers were leaving for the day but let me still walk around as many of them were talking around a table. The house is falling apart and the grounds are over-grown.

Van Allen House

Van Allen House  at 3 Franklin Avenue in Oakland, NJ

The Van Allen House was host to George Washington and troops on July 14, 1777 and helped get word to his field officers by allowing him to compose documents there which were dispatched by carriers along the Ramapo Valley trail, now Route 202. In 1915-1919 owners of the Van Allen House and builders of the Stream House adjacent were the publishers and editors of the Sussex Register of Newton, NJ. Edward Page often published trade and economic articles in the NY Times, inspiring his son Allen to take over the Sussex Register until Allen’s death in 1917, passing on ownership to the father Edward until he died 12/26/1918. The Sussex Register joined the NJ Herald in 1928. (Tour Pamphlet)

I was able to tour the Van Allen House and grounds on my own. Most of the docents were relaxing after a long day. I walked up and around the house and there was not much to see as the house needed a serious renovation. The new roof had just been put on the house but there still were leeks in it. The grounds were loaded with weeds and was in need of a good landscaper. The one thing the house had going for it was their gift shop. They had the most interesting sewn dolls that one of the members makes and they had a beautiful selection of Christmas ornaments.

One the Van Allen house goes through some form of restoration, it will really be a jewel on the tour as it sits on a nice piece of land that was part of the original estate.

Overall it was a nice tour of the historical sites and gave me a real insight to old Bergen County when it was still called Franklin Township that was formed in 1771. The population was small. The families who lived here all knew one another , worshipped together and intermarried. It showed the important role that Bergen County played in the American Revolution. If you are able to take time out to visit these sites, you will be pleasantly surprised on what you will learn. I did not realize how much history was right in the neighborhood. (Tour Pamphlet)

Don’t miss this amazing tour of Historical sites in Northern Bergen Country each May.

 

Places to Visit:

 

The Schoolhouse Museum-Ridgewood Historical Society

650 Glen Avenue

Ridgewood, NJ  07450

(201) 447-3242

RidgewoodHistoricalSociety@Verizon.net

RidgewoodHistoricalSociety.org

Open:

Thursday and Saturday: 1:00pm-3:00pm

Sunday: 2:00pm-4:00pm

Fee: Donation $5.00

TripAdvisor Review:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1528

 

The Van Allen House

Oakland Historical Society

3 Franklin Avenue & Route 202

Oakland, NJ  07436

(201) 337-9652

http://www.oaklandhistoricalsociety.org

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46693-d10359401-Reviews-The_Van_Allen_House-Oakland_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

(Closed now for renovation)

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2075

 

The Zabriskie House

421 Franklin Avenue

Wyckoff, NJ  07481

Open: Please check out their website for the dates when the house is open to the public.

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46945-d10359429-Reviews-The_Zabriskie_House-Wyckoff_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2084

 

The Hermitage Museum

335 North Franklin Turnpike

Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ  07423

(201) 445-8311

http://www.thehermitage.org

Hours: Wednesday-Friday-10:00am-3:00pm/Saturday & Sunday-1:00pm-4:00pm

Fee: Adults: $7.00/AAA $6.00/Students & Seniors $4.00/Children $4.00/Children under 6 Free

Tours: 1:15pm/2:15pm/3:15pm

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46514-d10356697-Reviews-The_Hermitage-Ho_Ho_Kus_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1566

 

The Warwick Signal Tower

1 Bohnert Place

Waldwick, NJ  07463

http://www.wctower@optimum.net

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2019