Citizens semi-centennial association, Ridgewood.

Ridgewood, Bergan County, New Jersey, past and present online

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Saddle River is the old Ackerman Homestead. It was built by a mem-
ber of that family in 1750 and came into the possession of the Van
Emburgh family from the Ackerman Estate in 1800.

It is commonly known as the home of Jacob Van Emburgh and at
present is occupied by Hervey Terhune.

Ackernian-N angle House

The first house north of the Ackerman-Van Emburgh House, and
standing on the East Saddle River Road with its end towards the south,







and at the Junction of Paramus Road, was built by Abram Ackerman
in 1760.

It has generally been known as the home of John Naugle and for
a number of years, until his recent death, w^as occupied by Jacob Ferdon.

Van Dien Home

A few yards beyond the Saddle River boundary line of Ridgewood
and on the west side of Paramus Road, just below the Blauvelt home,
is the old home of the Van Dien family. Built in 1800 by Herman Van
Dien, the house faces east with one wing on the south end.

It is now owned by Miss Aletta Van Dien, daughter of John H. Van
Dien, and is occupied by Elmo Paxton.

Ackerman House

At the junction of Ackerman and Doremus Avenues is another old
Ackerman homestead now occupied by Garret G. Ackerman. The
stone part of this was built by his great grandfather, David Ackerman,
over 175 years ago. It now has a wooden wing on the south side.

Z ahriskie-W essells-Board House

On the east side of Paramus Road, just below the junction of Ho-
Ho-Kus Brook and the Saddle River, in Midland Township, but within
fifteen hundred feet of the Ridgewood Line, stands the old Zabriskie
House, now owned and occupied by Frederick Z. Board.

The house was constructed in 1790 by Andreas Zabriskie. Stand-
ing at right angles to the road, the end of the nearest wing with its
little ovah windows set diagonally in the gable and in perfect detail,
attracts immediate attention. The remaining portion of the structure
has been added to, but in such a way as to leave the picturesque effect

A great lawn with beautiful trees and shrubbery stretches away
from the rear of the house, and in front, across the drive-way, is the last
of the old Colonial gardens, carefully laid out with paths and hedges.
Nearby is an old barn originally constructed in 1775 and remodelled
in 1823 and 1892, whose beams show the marks of British bullets fired
during the Revolution.

The house has often been described in periodicals dealing with ar-
chitectural matters and is referred to as one of the most delightful of
the old places, both for its structural beauty and its splendid location,
to be found throughout this ancient countryside.

Yan Dien-Yan De Beek-Hopper Houses

The foregoing houses, together with the Van Dien home on Grove
Street, the Van De Beek house at the junction of Maple Avenue and
Prospect Street, the old Hopper home on Prospect Street, now owned
by Mrs. T. A. Strange and built in 1810 by Garret Hopper, and the
stone portion of the building now used by Dr. W. L. Vroom on West
Ridgewood Avenue, which was built by Peter J. Hopper, the father



of Albert P. Hopper, about 1830, are practically all of the old stone
houses of the former inhabitants Avhich now remain, their places having
been taken by the modern houses of today.

While no longer in existence, the following stone houses were all
excellent examples of the period:

Aycrigg House

Located on the east side of the Paramus Road about one-half mile
below Grove Street, this house was built about 1730 and destroyed by
fire on July 4, 1899. The house faced south with a wing on each end
and with white-washed walls. In 1790 it was owned by John Zabriskie
and later passed into the Bogert and then the Aycrigg families.

On the west side of the Road stands the old family burial vault
built in 1786.

Zahriskie-Van Dien House

About one thousand feet north of the Aycrigg House stood the house
occupied by John and Leah Zabriskie, which was built in 1790 and later
passed into the Van Dien family.

Zabriskie House

Built by Christian Zabriskie in 1728, this house was demolished in
1790 by Andreas Zabriskie, who at that time built the present residence
of F. Z. Board on the Paramus Road, a few yards in front of its site.


The houses described in the preceding pages might well have been
included under this caption, as they are not only surrounded by the
traditions of the families wliicli occupied them, but, as many of them
existed during the stirring times of our country's infancy, they were,
without doubt, often visited by both the American and British troops.

Washington and his generals, it is known, visited this section during
the Revolutionary War and, judging from his orders and correspond-
ence dated at Paramus, must have used one of the old houses in the
vicinity as his headquarters. Some writers state that this was probably
the place then called tlie Hopper Tavern, now known as the Brainard
Tolles residence, in Ho-Ho-Kus, but this has never been established
as a fact.

In the vicinity of Ridgewood, however, are two old landmarks which
sheltered those around whom, in one case, a glowing and romantic
picture might be painted, while the other still remains a fond sentiment
in the hearts of friends and admirers. They may not fall strictly within
tlie scope of this book, but their historic value is as keen to the residents
of Ridgewood as it is to those of their community.

The Hermitage

On the west side of Franklin Turnpike, a short distance above the
Ho-Ho-Kus Station, still stands "The Hermitage", the home of the



widow of Colonel Provost and the scene of her courtship by the dashing
Aaron Burr previous to their marriage. The house, quaint in appear-
ance and surrounded by wonderful trees, was rebuilt in 1812. It Has
long been occupied by the Rosencrantz family and is an excellent speci-
men of Colonial architecture.

Jefferson House

About one mile above the old Paramus Church on the west side of
the East Saddle River Road, in Orvill Township, but within a few rods
of the Ridgewood line, is the old Van Emburgh Homestead, which was
later the summer home of the late Joseph Jefferson, of Rip Van Winkle

Here the old comedian rested from the exacting labors of his pro-
fession and here it was his pleasure to extend to loving friends a hos-
pitality that has become proverbial.


One of the greatest factors in the development of Ridgewood is the
interest manifested by the citizens in all matters relating to the social,
recreational, educational and civic life of the community. The oppor-
tunities afforded by the churches and their various organizations, by
clubs and other societies, are extensively utilized as a medium of social
and civic intercourse in accordance with the preferences of those inter-
ested. Almost all of these have their particular places for holding
meetings and their activities are described elsewhere in this book. The
following serve the people as central gathering places for the discussing
of civic and community matters as well as for the purpose of social
and recreational affairs.

Pearsall's Grove

On the north side of East Ridgewood Avenue, between the Ho-Ho-
Kus Brook and North Maple Avenue, stands a charming grove of nat-
ural growth forest trees which follow an uprising of the land from the
street level to the summit of a ridge from which there is an excellent
view, the whole being admirably adapted to open air gatherings. In
former days this was known as Dayton's Grove and through the cour-
tesy of James W. Pearsall, its present owner, has served the people on
a number of occasions as a gathering place for such events as Inde-
pendence Day celebrations, mass meetings, and Sunday afternoon church
services during the summer months.

The Opera House

The idea of having an opera house started with a few public-spirited
citizens who recognized the need of a suitable hall in which to hold
meetings, local society entertainments, and theatrical performances.
The project was presented to the citizens by means of a circular and
a call for funds resulted in subscriptions amounting to approximately
$10,000. In order to carry on the work, a private corporation called



the Ridgewood Hall and Park Association was formed. The original
plan contemplated the transformation of the triangular piece of ground,
now occupied by the Opera House, the Trust Company, the stores on
Prospect Street, and the stores on Ridgewood Avenue between Prospect
and Oak Streets, the beauty spot of the Village, by planting trees,
shrubs and flowers. Owing to the lack of funds, however, the Asso-
ciation was at first compelled to dispose of the Prospect Street frontage
and later the Ridgewood Avenue and Oak Street parts now occupied
by stores.

The building, when completed in 1889, had a seating capacity of
five hundred and was one of the best in Ridgewood. It was built by
day's work, Andrew Van Emburgh doing the mason work and John B.
Van Dien the carpentry. The cost of erecting the building, including
the foundation, amounted to about $29,000, the foundation work prov-
ing expensive owing to the fact that the locality had at one time been
the site of a small pond, which necessitated the construction of a drain.

"When the building was designed an addition was provided for the
use of the Ridgewood Club, a social organization prominent in the Vil-
lage for a number of years, but which went out of existence with the
formation of the original Golf Club. The building has been of great
service to the Village as a place for public, social, and amusement af-
fairs, the latter being under the direction principally of private indi-
viduals who leased the premises for the purpose.

During the early 90 's the grounds surrounding the building were
used on numerous occasions for carnivals and other public gatherings.
For quite a period, band concerts were given every Saturday afternoon,
through the generosity of the late Joseph W. Edwards.

Since the completion of the Play House and the Assembly Hall in
the Wilsey Building, these places have been preferred for holding gath-
erings formerly held in the Opera House.

The first amateur minstrel show was given in the Opera House by
members of the Ridgewood Club, under the direction of Franklin Hart
on December 19, 1895. The cast included: Lucius Smith, J. B. Smith,
A. S. Alexander, Walter Walton, H. M. Crowell, J. McLean Walton,
J. W. Edwards, C. C. Harrison, Howard Walton, R. W. Hawes, F. A.
Ross, F. C. Smith, 0. C. Tompkins, John Hawes, J. W. Dunnell, with
D. C. Cox as interlocutor.

One of the most notable events held wdthin its walls was the hearty
reception given to Woodrow Wilson, then Governor of New Jersey,
Avhen he addressed the people of Ridgewood on the evening of October
13, 1911, during the political campaign of that year.

On August 5, 1913, after having been pu^'chased and renovated by
the late Joseph H. Martin, the building was reopened as a photo play
house under the direction of his son, Frank Martin, but this project
has since been discontinued.

At the present time a portion of the building is occupied by Com-
pany L and serves not only as their headquarters but is also used by
them for drills.

When the Opera House was first opened it was the scene of a carnival
which continued for several days. The first theatrical performance



within its walls, which was given at that time by local talent, was
entitled "The Loan of a Lover".

The Play House

On May 26, 1913, the Village Commissioners, through the Building
Inspector, gave the Ridgewood Play House Company permission to erect
a building on Wilsey Square between the Van Orden Garage and the
Osman Building. On November 21st, in the presence of a larger as-
semblage of citizens than had ever before gathered in an auditorium
in the Village, the building was formally opened. The program included
an address by His Honor, Mayor Daniel A. Garber, a response by
Walter W. Wilsey, the father of the project ; the presentation of Pinero's
comedy in four acts "Trelawney of the Wells", by Miss Gelbart and
her associates, all Ridgewood young people ; and the reading of a " Ded-
ication Poem" written by Roland Clinton.

The building, which is of fireproof construction, will seat 800 per-
sons and was built by Ridgewood contractors. The carpenter work
was done by J. L. Brown, the mason work by Thomas Vanderbeck, the
plumbing and heating by W. H. Moore, and the painting and deco-
rating by J. Uhlman. Bigelow and Maxham provided the furnishings.

The land and buildings cost the company between $40,000 and
$50,000 and during the latter part of 1916 an orchestral organ made
by the American Master Organ Company of Paterson was installed at
a cost of $5,000. The directors of the company are : Walter W. Wilsey,
President ; Thomas Nichols, of Nutley, Vice-President ; A. B. Van Liew
and A. W. Fish, of Bloomfield, and Howard Peck of East Orange,
Directors. W. W. Young, formerly of Bloomfield, is Resident Manager
and under his direction the company has furnished a daily program
of high-class moving pictures, except when the building is used as a
place of assembly for events connected with the social and civic activi-
ties of the community.

The Municipal Building

During the fall of 1910 the Village determined to construct a muni-
cipal building that should be in keeping with the progressive spirit
of the citizens. The building was completed and occupied during 1911.

Located on Hudson Street, the first floor is occupied by the Fire
and Police Departments. The second floor, besides providing office
room for the various officials and departments of the Village, contains
a large assembly room which is used for the weekly sessions of the
Village Commissioners and for public meetings.

The Village fire alarm bell, contained within a wooden frame, is
mounted on the roof of the building.


A history of the Village organizations is given elsewhere in this'
book, but their places for holding meetings are at times used by the
citizens for other purposes and their development has been an important
feature of the community life.



Wilson's Hall

In 1873 a two-story buiklino- with an outside stairway leading to
tlie assembly room Avas located at about the site of the present feed and
grain business of E. B. Van Horn on Broad Street, and was known
as Wilson 's Hall. This was the meeting place of the Masonic Fraternity
until May, 1881, when the building was destroyed by fire.

Union Street School Hall
Music and Theatricals

The prime mover in athletic and musical entertainments in Ridge-
wood was Mr. Thomas W. White, then on the staff of the New York
Herald. The first public concert given in Ridgewood was given for
the benefit of the first Athletic Club in the hall over the Union Street
School soon after it was completed. Mr. White's grand piano, then
the only one in Ridgewood, was with difficulty carried to the platform.
The Misses Sloman of New York played solos on piano and harp and
the accompaniments to songs by Mr. White, Mr. Lucius Smith and
Mr. R. W. Hawes.


In this Hall was also given the first theatrical performance in Ridge-
wood. The hand-bills announced:

Amateur Concert


Dramatic Entertainment

at the

Ridgewood School House Hall,

Saturday, December 14, 1878.

Mr. Tom Jefferson


Hugh De Brass

In the laughable Farce,

A Regular Fix.

Tickets 50 cts.

The concert was given by the singers who appeared at the athletic
entertainment. The cast included Miss Hawes as leading lady, Mr.
L. A. Stout and Miss Stout, Miss Effie Orr and Mr. Robert Kucuck of
Ho-Ho-Kus and Mv. Rea of Midland Park, all amateurs. It was under-
taken to raise funds for one of the churches in Ridgewood. Mr. Joseph
Jefferson suggested it as good practice for his son, Tom. who was to
begin his professional career in New York the next week. The cast was
made by Mr. Jefferson and all rehearsals but the final one were held at
his house and were delightful meetings never to be forgotten by those who
attended them. The performance was well attended and cleared $100.


A series of dances was held in the winter of 1876-1877, beginning
in the homes of the residents of Ridgewood and Ho-Ho-Kus, by mem-



bers of the England Keeley, Cameron, Robinson, Walton, Bockee, Ros-
encrantz and Hawes families. Two were held in the iinoccupied Kidder
Academy on Van Dien Avenue. The music was furnished by the
younger members; the dances were all square, quadrilles and lancers,
closing with the Virginia reel, which was particularly enjoyed by the
gray-haired members. The last of these dances was given on Wash-
ington's Birthday in the School Hall, Union Street. Guests came from
New York and Paterson. It was the first masked ball given in Ridge-
wood, with elaborate music and refreshments and round dances.

Ryerson's Block — Prospect Block — First National Bank Building —
Masonic and Wilsey Building — Halls

In 1882 Ryerson's Block was built and a hall was provided to take
care of the needs of various organizations. The hall was used until
the construction in 1903 of the Prospect Block and the First National
Bank Building, when the assembly room provided for in the plans of
the latter became the recognized meeting place and was known as Ma-
sonic Hall. The hall in the Prospect Building was used principally for
political meetings and dances, while Masonic Hall continued to be the
principal meeting place of the Village organizations until 1915, when the
Masonic Fraternity purchased the former home of the Town Club
(White Stars) on South Maple Avenue, which it improved and dedi-
cated to its uses. Beginning with the opening of the Woman's Club
Rooms in the Wilsey Building in 1914, the two last mentioned build-
ings liave become the meeting places of a number of organizations re-
quiring rooms of such proportions. The bank building assembly room
is known as Knights of Columbus Hall.

The Woman's Club Rooms in the AVilsey Building were the scene
during 1916 of two assemblages of a historic nature. One of these was
the semi-annual meeting of the Federation of Woman's Clubs of New
Jersey during the latter part of October. The Club rooms were used
as headquarters and the business sessions were held in the Play House.
The other occasion was on February 16, when 450 persons gathered
at a banquet of Fidelity Lodge No. 113, F. and A. M., and talked, sang,
and cheered with a similar gathering of Masons in San Francisco and
Pasadena over the recently completed transcontinental telephone line
of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. Ridgewood upon
this occasion had the honor of being the first small town to have an
opportunity to test this marvelous feat of engineering. Through the
greetings exchanged by Herbert R. Talbot, Master of Fidelity Lodge,
and Albert G. Burnett, Grand Master of the State of California, Ridge-
wood was the eastern terminus of the first verbal greetings ever ex-
tended between officials of the Masonic order across the Continent.

Country Club

The facilities provided by the clubhouse of the Ridgewood Country
Club since its completion in 1913, have given its members opportunities
to enjoy the benefits which are usual in such an institution. While its
short life has not enabled it to be the scene of any public gatherings



of note, it is well adapted for such purposes and history Avill doubtless
record its part in such future achievements of the citizens.

The Town Club

Formerly the home of the Ridgewood Golf Club, the present quarters
of the Town Club, have been the scene of many social and public func-
tions, the most prominent affair of a public nature being when President
Taft addressed the citizens from the club veranda on May 25, 1912.
This was the first time in the history of the community that a President
of the United States was entertained within its confines.

Another important event in the history of the club occurred on
April 8, 1915, wlien the citizens of the Village entertained at dinner
the members of the Grand Army of the Republic living in this vicinity
in commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the cessation of hos-
tilities between the Nortli and the South. The principal speaker of the
evening was United States Senator Moses E. Clapp of Minnesota.


About 1818, Van Dien Avenue, then known as Van Dien Lane and
considered as one of the best dirt roads in this section, was used as a
speedway for the best horses in the neighborhood. It was the gathering
place for those interested in the sport and some lively running and
trotting races were held.


On Race Track Road, which separates Ridgewood from Ho-Ho-Kus,
and within the limits of Ho-Ho-Kus, stand the buildings and one-half
mile track leased by the Ho-Ho-Kus Driving Club from Samuel Naugle.
Since 1885 the park has served the people of the vicinity, not only as
a speedway and for neighborhood horse shows, but also as a place for
fairs. Since the advent of automobiles and aeroplanes it has been the
scene at various times of exhibitions of these machines,


The foregoing site was originally part of the Samuel Banta farm
and was first used as a fair ground by the New Jersey Agricultural
Association, organized in 1885. Jacob Bamper was its first president
and served about ten years.

In 1895 this organization was succeeded by the North Jersey Agri-
cultural and Driving Association, which constructed the present build-
ings, repaired the race-track, and generally improved the condition of
the property.

Up to 1914, the property was used at various times for speeding
exhibitions and county fairs, but during that year it was sold to Samuel

The Ho-Ho-Kus Driving Club now rents the property from Mr.
Naugle and, since 1915, has sublet the premises to the Bergen County
Fair Association. Incorporated during 1915, this association has con-
ducted a fair on the grounds for the past two years.




An enjoyable custom, which will probably be continued in the years
to come, was established as a community affair on the evening of De-
cember 23, 1916, when several hundred school children and as many
adults assembled on Cottage Place around a towering evergreen, beau-
tifully illuminated by hundreds of colored lights. Festoons of lights
also illuminated the street. The children, under the direction of the
Supervisor of Music of the Public Schools, sang a number of the old
Christmas carols, after which the entire assemblage sang several closing
hymns. Refreshments were served at the Unitarian Church for tlie
adults and packages of cakes and candies were distributed to the young
folks at the High School Building.



ON account of its location at a distance from New York, where it
cannot conveniently share the pleasures and activities of that
city to any great extent, Ridgewood has found it necessary to provide
its o^vn entertainment, club life and civic interests.

The natural result of such endeavor has been the organization of
various clubs, societies and associations, all of which have as objectives
the improvement of the individual and the advancement of the Village.

These organizations may, for the sake of convenience, be grouped
under several headings, each denoting the general character of the
organization so classified, as follows : Clubs, Patriotic Organizations,
Political Organizations, Fraternal Organizations, IMusical Clubs, Wel-
fare Associations, School Associations, Anti-Liquor Organizations, Medi-
cal Societies, Organizations for Young Men and Commercial Organi-


The call of outdoor sports and of social intercourse has been answered
])y the people of Ridgew^ood Avith the organization of nine clubs, all
of which are of decided advantage to the Village.

The Ridgeivood Cluh

The Ridgewood Club was organized in December, 1893, with the
following officers :

President Henry S. Patterson,

Vice-Presiden i M. T. Richardson,

Treasurer W. J. Fullekton,

Secretary Paul Walton.

This organization was the first of its character in the community,
becoming one of the leading institutions of the Village and the center
of its social life and activity. In 1900 its membership was practically

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Online LibraryCitizens semi-centennial association, RidgewoodRidgewood, Bergan County, New Jersey, past and present → online text (page 15 of 19)