Pascack Historical Society

Pascack Historical Society Pascack Historical Society John C. Storms Museum in Leach Chapel & Berdais Hall The John C. Storms Museum, a 501c3 non-profit, is located in the headquarters of the Pascack Historical Society, 19 Ridge Avenue , Park Ridge , New Jersey .
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Throughout the mid-20th century, John C. Storms, a local historian and newspaper publisher, collected a large number of artifacts and manuscripts from the early days of the Pascack Valley. He founded the Historical Society in 1942 and served as the first curator of the collection.

Throughout the mid-20th century, John C. Storms, a local historian and newspaper publisher, collected a large number of artifacts and manuscripts from the early days of the Pascack Valley. He founded the Historical Society in 1942 and served as the first curator of the collection.

Mission: To acquire, preserve and disseminate knowledge of the rich history of the Pascack Valley while "Preserving the Past for the Future"

Operating as usual

PHS President Jackie Martin recently filmed a segment for the local TV program “Montvale in Motion”! In an informative i...
10/11/2020
Montvale In Motion: Jackie Martin, Pascack Historical Society

PHS President Jackie Martin recently filmed a segment for the local TV program “Montvale in Motion”! In an informative interview with host Tony Salerno, she covered everything from the museum’s founding to what we offer today. We promise you’ll learn something new! Click the link below to watch.

We’re back today, Sunday, Oct. 4!! There’s still so many great items left. Today we open at 10 am, but at noon EVERYTHIN...
10/04/2020

We’re back today, Sunday, Oct. 4!! There’s still so many great items left. Today we open at 10 am, but at noon EVERYTHING IS 50% OFF.

Here’s a little sneak peek at our sale items for this weekend!! We are absolutely packed with unique items and collectibles. We’re here Saturday 10/3 from 9-4 and Sunday 10/4 from
10-4. 19 Ridge Avenue, Park Ridge.

And remember—100% of proceeds support the museum!!

Here’s a little sneak peek at our sale items for this weekend!! We are absolutely packed with unique items and collectib...
10/02/2020

Here’s a little sneak peek at our sale items for this weekend!! We are absolutely packed with unique items and collectibles. We’re here Saturday 10/3 from 9-4 and Sunday 10/4 from
10-4. 19 Ridge Avenue, Park Ridge.

And remember—100% of proceeds support the museum!!

Our long-awaited CURIOSITY SALE is back this weekend! Our volunteers have been busy setting up, and our meeting room is ...
09/28/2020

Our long-awaited CURIOSITY SALE is back this weekend! Our volunteers have been busy setting up, and our meeting room is full of some amazing items. Remember: since this is an all-volunteer effort and all the items are donated, every single penny we make helps support the museum. Please come down and help us keep Pascack Valley history alive!

It’s a beautiful fall day in Park Ridge, and our museum’s door is open! Stop by from 1-4 p.m. Admission is free. Bring t...
09/20/2020

It’s a beautiful fall day in Park Ridge, and our museum’s door is open! Stop by from 1-4 p.m. Admission is free. Bring the kids!

It’s humid and rainy out there...but it’s cool and dry in here. Plus, it’s filled with some pretty neat things. We open ...
08/16/2020

It’s humid and rainy out there...but it’s cool and dry in here. Plus, it’s filled with some pretty neat things. We open our doors today for the first time since March! Come on down! (And please remember to wear your mask).

TOMORROW IS THE DAY! We officially reopen Sunday, Aug. 16 from 1-4 p.m. Here are a few teasers from our new exhibit to c...
08/15/2020

TOMORROW IS THE DAY! We officially reopen Sunday, Aug. 16 from 1-4 p.m. Here are a few teasers from our new exhibit to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote. Drop by any Sunday afternoon to see it.

We are so excited to announce that we're back this Sunday from 1-4 p.m.! After months closed due to the pandemic, we are...
08/11/2020

We are so excited to announce that we're back this Sunday from 1-4 p.m.! After months closed due to the pandemic, we are now planning to be open weekly on Sundays. Drop by to say hello! We have a brand new exhibit, "THEIR WORLD: Woman Suffrage in the Pascack Valley." As we reach the 100th anniversary of women gaining (or should we say, regaining) the right to vote, we explore the suffrage movement from a Pascack Valley perspective. We look forward to seeing you!

Park Ridge—May 30, 1925Memorial Day exercises
05/25/2020

Park Ridge—May 30, 1925
Memorial Day exercises

As the Pascack Valley observes Memorial Day in a different way this year, here is a look back more than 30 years at some...
05/25/2020

As the Pascack Valley observes Memorial Day in a different way this year, here is a look back more than 30 years at some past commemorations.

1: Retired NYPD officer Ray Mullins of Emerson attends Memorial Day services on May 27, 1985. U.S. Navy veteran Mullins lost a leg, but not in combat—he was directing traffic in the Bronx when he was hit by a vehicle. As his cap suggests, he was a member of Park Ridge American Legion Post 153.

2: Westwood residents watch the borough’s parade from Washington Avenue in 1987. The balloons were given out by the Iron Horse.

3: “Hey, did they have wristwatches back then?” Colonials march in the Tri-Boro Memorial Day Parade on Pascack Road in Woodcliff Lake, May of 1981.

4: Young Emerson residents show their patriotism as they ride a float in the Memorial Day parade in May of 1988.

In this classic image of Westwood, the Memorial Day Parade of  1968 makes its way down Westwood Avenue. In the foregroun...
05/25/2020

In this classic image of Westwood, the Memorial Day Parade of 1968 makes its way down Westwood Avenue. In the foreground are members of the borough’s police force. Spectators with American flags line the sidewalks of Westwood Avenue.

Trailing the police department, marching steps behind a vintage emergency service automobile in suits, appears to be the borough’s mayor and council. In 1968, Westwood’s mayor was William J. Woods, who served that year until 1975. Following the public officials appears to be the high school marching band.

Look closely at the photograph and long-time residents of Westwood Avenue will get a sense of nostalgia seeing storefronts like F. W. Woolworth Co. department store or Town & Country Music at the intersection of with Central Avenue (where Starbucks is currently located).

While the streetscape of Westwood has changed, the spirit of patriotism and respect for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice at war has not wavered.

This Memorial Day parade took place in Hillsdale in the early 1920s. Here, townspeople are coming off of Magnolia Avenue...
05/25/2020

This Memorial Day parade took place in Hillsdale in the early 1920s. Here, townspeople are coming off of Magnolia Avenue and marching up Cross Street in the direction of Broadway. Back then, the commemoration was called Decoration Day.

Four men, possibly borough officials, lead the procession. They are followed by a band, a baseball team and then a small horse that is decorated with feathers and pulling a cart. Behind, dozens of little girls file down the street in white dresses. The angle of the photo is probably from someone’s second floor window.

Decoration Day came about after the Civil War to honor the war dead. In the 1920s there certainly would have been Civil War veterans still around in the area, some as young as their 70s. However, the more recent conflict on everyone’s minds would have been World War I, then known as the Great War. America’s involvement lasted only from 1917-1918, but in that time the nation had lost over 116,000 service members.

Shown here, Hillsdale observes Memorial Day with a ceremony on Broadway at the war memorial monument (then located in fr...
05/25/2020

Shown here, Hillsdale observes Memorial Day with a ceremony on Broadway at the war memorial monument (then located in front of the train station) in 1950. We love the little girl sitting on the back of the monument and peeking around. Those are 48-star American flags. Alaska and Hawaii wouldn’t enter the union for another nine years.

Back then Hillsdale’s fallen heroes were from World War I and World War II, and the latter was still a very recent memory. In the years to come, wars in Korea and Vietnam would add more names to that list.

All the buildings shown in the background of this photo are still standing and are easily recognizable between Washington Avenue and Hillsdale Avenue.

In this photo, the Erie Band marches down Westwood Avenue (in the direction of the park) as the Borough of Westwood comm...
05/25/2020

In this photo, the Erie Band marches down Westwood Avenue (in the direction of the park) as the Borough of Westwood commemorates Memorial Day with a parade on May 30, 1922.

Back in 1922 Westwood Avenue did have a commercial presence, but the street also had its fair share of residential homes. In many cases, where there are now strips of stores, there were once stately Victorians.

One such home can be seen in the background as the parade marches by. This elegant residence, built before 1876, belonged to Captain Westervelt and stood at the corner of Westwood and Center avenues. The Second Empire-style Victorian was bordered by a white fence and featured a four-story central tower. Westervelt was a Union Army officer during the Civil War, commanding “D” Company, 22nd New Jersey Regiment, which was recruited in Pleasantville (later known as Westwood) in the summer of 1862.

Emerson, NJ History & Preservation Efforts
05/23/2020

Emerson, NJ History & Preservation Efforts

Memorial Day Parade participants and The Emerson Memorial memory from the 1940’s.

A news article from May 1878 takes note of all those hardy Bergen County folks who are living over the age of 80!
05/11/2020

A news article from May 1878 takes note of all those hardy Bergen County folks who are living over the age of 80!

Third Avenue from Mill Street, Westwood. 1910“Am having a very nice time. This is how the whole town looks, so clean and...
05/09/2020

Third Avenue from Mill Street, Westwood. 1910

“Am having a very nice time. This is how the whole town looks, so clean and all single family houses.”

A MYSTERIOUS MESSAGEAlmost 110 years later, we can only wonder at the meaning behind the message on this postcard origin...
05/07/2020

A MYSTERIOUS MESSAGE

Almost 110 years later, we can only wonder at the meaning behind the message on this postcard originally mailed from Hillsdale in May of 1911.

"The station—rain portends," writes "D" to a recipient in Brooklyn.

Then, an enigmatic followup message from Sept. 19, 1911: "This is THE station, alright, but IT never happened. This may start you thinking."

The image on the postcard is the Hillsdale Manor train station. Constructed of wood and fieldstone, it stood along the tracks close to the intersection of Broadway and Parkview Avenue.

The Manor section of Hillsdale, at its peak from the late 1880s to the 1910s, was a popular vacation resort for the well-to-do from New York City. Isolated from greater Hillsdale by an untouched forest landscape, Hillsdale Manor was a town within a town—an enclave of mansions with its own train station, stores, hotels and newspaper.

The Manor encompassed lands between Lincoln Avenue to the north, Knickerbocker and Piermont avenue to the south, Broadway (then called Summit Avenue) to the west and St. Mary’s and Raymond streets to the east.

Beyond being a rail stop for well-heeled vacationers, the Manor station was also the site of the newly formed Township of Hillsdale’s first-ever election in April of 1898. Six days after the election, Hillsdale’s governing body held its first meeting there.

A MESSAGE BETWEEN CHILDRENHope writes to her friend, Dorothy, "How are you? I am fine. Went to the gingerbread house yes...
05/06/2020

A MESSAGE BETWEEN CHILDREN

Hope writes to her friend, Dorothy, "How are you? I am fine. Went to the gingerbread house yesterday" on this postcard mailed in Montvale in 1935. For good measure, she added some X's and O's—hugs and kisses.

We can't help but wonder if the gingerbread house was this church itself—it does look like something out of a fairy tale!

The former St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (the “Old Stone Church”), at the corner of Grand Avenue and Woodland Road in Montvale, is nearly as old as the borough itself.

Bishop Thomas A. Starkey, of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, received a request from Francis Wheaton of Park Ridge asking for the establishment of a mission there on Aug. 31, 1894—the exact same day the borough was officially formed.

Before 1894, all of the towns that comprise the Pascack Valley were part of the Township of Washington. In 1894 they started breaking off to form smaller municipalities. Montvale, Park Ridge, Westwood and Woodcliff (“Lake” was added later) all incorporated that year.

The church was designed by Samuel Burrage Reed, a resident of Woodcliff and one of America’s leading architects of the era.

Archdeacon Jenvy of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark visited the nascent church in 1894 and wrote the following: “We visited Montvale and Park Ridge. These are continuous boroughs, a country road only dividing them, with a population of 600. In Montvale a most picturesque chapel is in the process of erection. The walls are of stones taken from the adjoining fields. The roof and gables are of frame with rustic finish. It is a marvel of cheapness. The stone walls cost only $340. The total cost of all will be only $1,500. We held service in the building, the first ever held in it. Sixty-five were in the congregation.”

In its earliest years, congregants had to arrive early in order to start up the wood-burning stove to heat the church, and baptismal water was carried in pails from nearby homes.

This beautiful postcard was mailed from Hillsdale in 1910. These butterfly woman postcards were produced for towns all o...
05/05/2020

This beautiful postcard was mailed from Hillsdale in 1910. These butterfly woman postcards were produced for towns all over America, with the pictures on the wings changed to show local scenes.

The pictures, clockwise from top left, are:

• The Riley Building on Broadway, then called Railroad Avenue. It is still standing today and comprises a large portion of downtown Hillsdale.
• A view of the newly created Woodcliff Reservoir. This manmade body of water was completed in 1904.
• The old Hillsdale United Methodist Church. Built in the 1870s, it stood across Magnolia Avenue from the present one. Destroyed by fire in 1961 after the new church had been built. Now it is a parking lot.
• The old Hillsdale Grammar School. Built in 1889, four more classrooms were added in 1906, doubling its size to accommodate a growing borough. Replaced in the 1920s by a larger school (later named George White) at the same location.

It's National Postcard Week! In the early 20th century, nearly 100 years before email and texting would become the publi...
05/04/2020

It's National Postcard Week!

In the early 20th century, nearly 100 years before email and texting would become the public’s preferred way to write to friends and relations, postcards were enormously popular for drafting a quick note.

Collectors often refer to the period between 1905 and 1915 as the Golden Age of Postcards. In fact, statistics from the U.S. Postal Service show that for the year ending June 30, 1908, about 700 million postcards were mailed in America. That’s pretty amazing, considering our population was about 90 million people at the time.

Hundreds of scenes from the Pascack Valley were committed to postcards, especially from the towns of Hillsdale, Park Ridge and Westwood. Views of local shops, railroads, churches, houses, farms, waterways, parks, schools and more were immortalized on the little paper cards.

While it’s difficult to imagine today, when the Pascack Valley is the quintessential example of the suburbs, in the early 20th century this was considered “the country.” The region’s rural quality and expanses of undeveloped land made it a popular fresh-air getaway for city dwellers, and many of them mailed postcards to friends and family all over the country.

This week we will be featuring postcards from the museum's collection, starting with this one that shows a scene in Westwood and was mailed from Woodcliff Lake on this day back in 1909.

Did you know? The hobby of collecting postcards is called deltiology, based off the Greek word "Deltion" (small pictures or cards).

Our Pascack Adventures would like to share some activities that you and your children can enjoy during this historical t...
05/02/2020

Our Pascack Adventures would like to share some activities that you and your children can enjoy during this historical time. Here are two fun projects relating to the first residents of the Pascack Valley, the Lenape people.

Families were important to the Lenape. The children worked with their parents, and learned the skills they would need when they grew up. Boys were taught woodcraft and hunting; girls were taught housekeeping and gardening. The children had toys made from nature.

Here are two Lenape-based toys you can make and play.

1) JACK STRAWS (known as Pick-up Sticks)

WHAT YOU NEED:
• 50 twigs from your back yard, or thin dowels, or thick spaghetti
• Mark 15 “sticks” with markers.

HOW TO PLAY:
• Mix up the sticks
• Throw the sticks onto any surface
• Collect the fallen sticks without disturbing the other sticks. You may use another stick to help you.
• The marked pieces are worth 5 points; the plain pieces are worth 1 point.

2) CUP AND PIN (Rabbit Tail):

WHAT YOU NEED:
• One twig, 12 inches long, or other straight piece
• One small paper or plastic cup
• String or elastic thread, about 14 inches long

HOW TO PLAY:
• Attach one end of the string to the bottom of the cup.
• Tie the other end of the string to the near middle of the stick.
• Flip the stick; try to catch the “rabbit” on the end of the stick.

GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN!

05/01/2020
A History of Home Construction in the Pascack Valley

Last autumn we welcomed Westwood architect William J. Martin for a lecture, “A History of Home Construction in the Pascack Valley.” Our meeting room was packed, with standing room only, and the lecture was fascinating. We learned how and why home styles changed throughout history, and now it’s impossible to drive or walk our local streets without Bill’s lecture coming to mind.

We are excited to report that the full presentation is now available to watch online! If you like history (and you must, if you’re following our page) then this is definitely a video to add to your “quarantine” queue:

https://youtu.be/UouAdv5R-ns

Enjoy! Be safe and healthy—we hope to see everyone back at the museum soon.

This lecture was given on Nov. 17, 2019 at the Pascack Historical Society in Park Ridge NJ. It includes an historical recounting of the nature of home design...

With the Bradford pear trees in bloom, the causeway over the reservoir has been a popular place for walks. This recent p...
05/01/2020

With the Bradford pear trees in bloom, the causeway over the reservoir has been a popular place for walks. This recent photo reminds one of a picture snapped from a similar angle over a century ago!

VICTORIAN EASTER GREETINGSThe building that houses the Pascack Historical Society wasn't always a museum. Rather, in the...
04/12/2020

VICTORIAN EASTER GREETINGS

The building that houses the Pascack Historical Society wasn't always a museum. Rather, in the late 19th and up until the mid-20th century it was the First Congregational Church of Park Ridge. Dedicated in 1873, it served as a place of worship for decades before the church outgrew the building and moved to its present quarters on Pascack Road. The Pascack Historical Society moved in during 1952 and the rest is--well, history.

We have in our collection a number of beautiful greeting cards that were produced by the aforementioned church to recognize Easter during the Victorian era. We thought you might enjoy seeing a few of them!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Address

19 Ridge Ave
Park Ridge, NJ
07656

General information

The building, designated as a historic location, was originally erected as a chapel in 1873. Today, it has been altered to provide access to the disabled. The exhibits are all on one floor and there is a ramp from the driveway on the east side of the building. In addition to the permanent displays, volunteers from the Pascack Historical Society regularly present exhibits of general interest.

Opening Hours

Wednesday 10:00 - 12:00
Sunday 13:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(201) 573-0307

Alerts

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Contact The Museum

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Our Story

The Pascack Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) organization that was incorporated on October 13, 1942, by a group of historically minded citizens. It is a membership-based not for profit organization that promotes and preserves the early history of the Pascack Valley and its peoples.

The Society owns and maintains the John C. Storms Museum, namesake of our founder, located in Leach Chapel, erected in 1873, as well as Berdais Hall, which was erected in 1999 thanks to funding by a longtime member, resident of Westwood, and friend of the museum, Ellen Berdais.

The Society is home to the worlds only Wampum Drilling Machine, which was used in Park Ridge during the mid to late 1800s by the Campbell Family of Park Ridge, which drew the likes of John Jacob Astor of American Fur Company to trade pelts for Wampum to trade with Western Native Americans. Park Ridge was also home to Mittag and Volger, which at its pinnacle, was the largest manufacturer of typewriting ribbon in the world. These first industries started in Park Ridge are what turned Park Ridge into a large trading post, and then a future living destination, helped the town embody their motto, “Through Industry We Florish.”

We are admission-free and open to the public on Wednesdays from 10 AM to noon and on Sundays from 1 to 4 PM. Group tours are accommodated at other times by prior arrangement. The Pascack Historical Society receives no regular government funding and relies on membership dues and donations to keep our boat afloat. Your donations are always appreciated and welcome.

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