MAHWAH MUSEUM NOW OPEN FOR SEASON!

Mahwah Museum is open every Saturday Sunday and Wednesday from 1-4pm. The Donald Copper Model RR is open on weekend only from 1-4pm.

This year we are featuring three new exhibits, along with our permanent exhibits:

MAHWAH’s HIS-“TREE”: 75 Years as a Township, 1944-2019

Mahwah’s history dates back to the 1600s and 1700s, belonging to several territories with different names.  In the 1700s and 1800s, Mahwah grew from a seedling of Franklin Township and later stemmed from Hohokus Township.  As other towns broke off from Hohokus Township, Mahwah remained, leaving it the largest tract of land in what is now Bergen County.

Mahwah blossomed as an independent community, and was officially incorporated as a township in 1944.  Our exhibit will explore the different branches of what makes a community live, breathe, and thrive.  Mahwah’s roots as a township were strengthened through the growth of borough organizations, housing developments, schools, recreation, religious and civic groups, and industry.

No matter how far back you can trace your roots in Mahwah, come share our shade as we honor the people, places, and organizations that have continued our history into the 21st century.

 

 

 

Palisades Amusement Park Comes To Mahwah:

(Photo credit: Vince Gargiulo)

New Jersey’s famous Palisades Amusement Park closed nearly 50 years ago. But most Jerseyites over the age of 60 will still smile at the mere mention of this classic American fun center. Mahwah resident, Vince Gargiulo, has been keeping the memory of Palisades alive for the past quarter of a century. He founded the Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society (PAPHS) in the early 1990s. His book, “Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories,” was the fastest selling book in the history of Rutgers University Press. His 1998 PBS documentary of the same name won several awards for outstanding documentary and was nominated for a New York Emmy.

His latest project is a working 1930s model of the park that he has been restoring for over a year. A long time park employee, Joe Prisco, originally built the wooden model in the 1990s. After his death, the model was moved several times and sustained a great deal of damage. In 2018, Gargiulo reached out to Prisco’s family, who donated the model to the PAPHS. Gargiulo set about to restore each piece, most requiring a great deal of work and patience. “The Carousel was the hardest piece to restore,” Gargiulo noted. “Many of the ornamental decorations were missing. Half of the light bulbs were burned out, and replacing them was not cheap!”

But his biggest challenge with the carousel was getting it to rotate. “I wish this model came with some kind of instruction manual,” Vince joked. “It would make repairing it so much easier.” After a month of experimenting, he was finally able to get the merry-go-round to operate properly. Gargiulo has completed restoration of 25 pieces including the Tunnel of Love, the World’s Largest Outdoor Salt Water Pool, the Ferris Wheel, the Carousel, the Free Act Stage, the Bumper Cars and much more. On September 22, the miniature amusement park will be on display as part of the Mahwah Museum’s 2019-2020 lineup. Also on display will be some extremely rare artifacts from the park from Gargiulo’s extensive collection.

A College Comes to Mahwah: Ramapo College: 1965-1975

(Photo credit: Vincent Marchese)

 

When the State of New Jersey decided to build a new college in Northern New Jersey in 1965, few towns wanted anything to do with it. Fears of radical students, traffic, and lost tax revenues dogged early efforts in Leonia, Hackensack and Saddle River. When the Birch Estate was proposed as a potential site, Mahwah quickly became the front runner. Our exhibit on the establishment of Ramapo College in Mahwah takes a look at life in the township 50 years ago and the creation of a unique liberal arts college.

Working with early faculty and graduates from Ramapo College, the exhibit will provide a brief history of the College’s aspirations and a look at its early curriculum. Students recall what campus life was like when the campus was being built around them; the makeshift “dorms” at the Carmel Retreat, a Boy Scout Camp,  and Club 300; the jazz festivals; and student and faculty strikes. These challenges forged a tight community and left fond memories. Come and experience an early 1970s college in Mahwah — sights, sounds, and recollections!

These exhibits will be on display along with our very popular permanent exhibits, the ever expanding Donald Cooper Model Railroad (open weekends only) and Les Paul in Mahwah!

We also invite you to join us for our upcoming gallery talks and lectures, taking place on Sunday afternoons and Thursday nights once a month.

Permanent exhibits:

 

The Donald Cooper Model Railroad

The Museum’s Donald Cooper Railroad is an operating HO-Scale model railroad with many trains traveling between levels and on different routes. Centralized electronic switches allow the operator to control the entire layout from the DCC central control panels. The railroad yard is fully functional allowing operators to make up trains and dispatch them to their own destinations. The four-level high layout has three independent scenic modules that are constantly changing, as well as a trolley, a subway system, logging station, waterfall, roundhouse and turntable. We invite engineers of all ages to come and visit our ever-changing and growing railroad world. The Donald Cooper Model Railroad is open WEEKENDS ONLY, Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 pm.  For information about joining the train crew, please email railroad@mahwahmuseum.org or call 201-512-0099.

Please note: the DCMRR is not a free train display (admission is free only for members of the museum) and it is not a train ride.

Les Paul in Mahwah

Mahwah Museum has a permanent exhibit featuring some Les Paul history  which allows visitors to learn the essential facts of Les Paul’s life and career.  It has sections on his inventions and innovations, a display of one-of-a-kind precious guitars made especially for Les, and a re-creation of the studio in which Les did his work.  Learn how this creative genius transformed rock, country and jazz music. See how he and Mary Ford performed for their weekly radio show from their home in Mahwah.

Mahwah Museum receives operating support from the Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historical Affairs.

New Exhibits Now Open!

Located at 201 Franklin Turnpike, the museum is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 pm, September 22-June.

This year we are featuring three new exhibits, along with our permanent exhibits:

 

MAHWAH’s HIS-“TREE”

75 Years as a Township

1944-2019

 

   Mahwah’s history dates back to the 1600s and 1700s, belonging to several territories with different names.  In the 1700s and 1800s, Mahwah grew from a seedling of Franklin Township and later stemmed from Hohokus Township.  As other towns broke off from Hohokus Township, Mahwah remained, leaving it the largest tract of land in what is now Bergen County.

  Mahwah blossomed as an independent community, and was officially incorporated as a township in 1944.  Our exhibit will explore the different branches of what makes a community live, breathe, and thrive.  Mahwah’s roots as a township were strengthened through the growth of borough organizations, housing developments, schools, recreation, religious and civic groups, and industry.

   No matter how far back you can trace your roots in Mahwah, come share our shade as we honor the people, places, and organizations that have continued our history into the 21st century.

 

Palisades Amusement Park Comes To Mahwah:

(Photo credit: Vince Gargiulo)

New Jersey’s famous Palisades Amusement Park closed nearly 50 years ago. But most Jerseyites over the age of 60 will still smile at the mere mention of this classic American fun center. Mahwah resident, Vince Gargiulo, has been keeping the memory of Palisades alive for the past quarter of a century. He founded the Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society (PAPHS) in the early 1990s. His book, “Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories,” was the fastest selling book in the history of Rutgers University Press. His 1998 PBS documentary of the same name won several awards for outstanding documentary and was nominated for a New York Emmy.

His latest project is a working 1930s model of the park that he has been restoring for over a year. A long time park employee, Joe Prisco, originally built the wooden model in the 1990s. After his death, the model was moved several times and sustained a great deal of damage. In 2018, Gargiulo reached out to Prisco’s family, who donated the model to the PAPHS. Gargiulo set about to restore each piece, most requiring a great deal of work and patience. “The Carousel was the hardest piece to restore,” Gargiulo noted. “Many of the ornamental decorations were missing. Half of the light bulbs were burned out, and replacing them was not cheap!”

But his biggest challenge with the carousel was getting it to rotate. “I wish this model came with some kind of instruction manual,” Vince joked. “It would make repairing it so much easier.” After a month of experimenting, he was finally able to get the merry-go-round to operate properly. Gargiulo has completed restoration of 25 pieces including the Tunnel of Love, the World’s Largest Outdoor Salt Water Pool, the Ferris Wheel, the Carousel, the Free Act Stage, the Bumper Cars and much more. On September 22, the miniature amusement park will be on display as part of the Mahwah Museum’s 2019-2020 lineup. Also on display will be some extremely rare artifacts from the park from Gargiulo’s extensive collection.

A College Comes to Mahwah: Ramapo College: 1965-1975

 

(Photo credit: Vincent Marchese)

When the State of New Jersey decided to build a new college in Northern New Jersey in 1965, few towns wanted anything to do with it. Fears of radical students, traffic, and lost tax revenues dogged early efforts in Leonia, Hackensack and Saddle River. When the Birch Estate was proposed as a potential site, Mahwah quickly became the front runner. Our exhibit on the establishment of Ramapo College in Mahwah takes a look at life in the township 50 years ago and the creation of a unique liberal arts college.

Working with early faculty and graduates from Ramapo College, the exhibit will provide a brief history of the College’s aspirations and a look at its early curriculum. Students recall what campus life was like when the campus was being built around them; the makeshift “dorms” at the Carmel Retreat, a Boy Scout Camp,  and Club 300; the jazz festivals; and student and faculty strikes. These challenges forged a tight community and left fond memories. Come and experience an early 1970s college in Mahwah — sights, sounds, and recollections!

 

These exhibits will be on display along with our very popular permanent exhibits, the ever expanding Donald Cooper Model Railroad (open weekends only) and Les Paul in Mahwah!

We also invite you to join us for our upcoming gallery talks and lectures, taking place on Sunday afternoons and Thursday nights once a month.

Any Youngs, Hagermans, Bodines out there?

Any Youngs, Hagermans, Bodines out there?
The Mahwah Museum archives are processing a large collection of photographs from the Martha Young Kuklinski Collection which document the lives of J. Frank Young (1905-1960) and Henrietta Morriss Young (1909-1984) and their families, ranging 1910-1940s. There are also some older historical family photographs. Henrietta Morriss’ mother was Bessie Hagerman and she lived with Andrew Hagerman. The photos from this branch of the family are fairly well labeled. The photographs of the Youngs, who came from Tallman, often have no labels at all. J. Frank Young’s mother was Anne Jane Bodine and his father was John Franklin Young. His siblings were Alta, Freda, and John Young. If you can help up put names to faces, it would make this collection much more useful to researchers.
Picture1

Early Skylands

This article by Charles Anderson was first published in “The Old Station Timetable,” of January 1978.

The area in which Skylands is now located was a prime source of wood for the smelting operations at Ringwood during the 1700’s. Small farms were carved out of the stony hills where some level ground could be found. These were mostly along the Eagle Valley Road out of Sloatsburg (NY) and along the Wanaque Valley Road. The Ramapo Mountains were gradually cut up among small owners.

Around 1880, Stetson, a counsel for J.P. Morgan, with several associates bought up 1200 acres of these small holdings and established several large estates. Part of the Stetson property is now Skylands. His mansion was baronial and impressive. Sheep were grazed on the front lawn. A nine-hole golf course was laid out on land laboriously leveled. His wife was a paraplegic but could drive a buggy. Each year he cut additional miles of wood road through the estate so that she could travel about the property. Eventually, over 20 miles of road were cleared. Most of them are still available for hiking. They are easily distinguished from old wood roads used for lumbering by their easy grades, uniform width and solidly built stone bridges.

In the 1900’s Clarence Lewis bought property In Mahwah and lived here. He was a lawyer for the multi-million dollar firm owned by the Solomons of New York. Retiring a very wealthy man in 1933, aged 53, he was to live 30 years more. He owned a large piece of land east of the Birch property on the north side of the Ramapo River extending to a piece of Pierson property which extended west from the Glove and north to Pierson Ridge. Another large acreage owned by Lewis lay on both sides of the easterly third of Bear Swamp Pond, separated from the Stetson estate by a small piece of property owned by one Hines. When the Stetson property was up for sale, he bought it intending to join it with the Bear Swamp acreage. It is believed that Hines refused to sell, and he was not able to do this.

However, Skylands was his. He tore the house down. There are two stories giving a reason why, neither of which may be true. One states that his mother did not like the Stetson house, the other, that being a tallish man he bumped his head in several places while going through the house. At, any rate, the present building was put up in Jacobean style from stone quarried locally and embellished with interiors purchased from old castles in Europe. His mother died a year before the house was completed.

In the many years that he lived at Skylands, being an ardent horticulturist and well able to afford 60 gardeners, he developed an English style series of plantings complete with statuary and vistas, most of which are being restored today. Late in life he offered his estate to the New York Botanical Gardens. They insisted on a large endowment which he was unwilling to provide. The deal fell through. Later, he offered the property to Shelton College at a very reasonable price on condition that they follow his advice on management. They would not listen, he discontinued his help, and the college soon went bankrupt.

Developers were ready to purchase and carve the estate when Robert Roe purchased for the state 250 acres, the first acquisition of land under the Green Acres Program. House and grounds had been sadly neglected during the college ownership. Some restoration work was done on the house, and work was started In reclaiming the neglected gardens. However, with only ten gardeners, reclamation Is progressing slowly. The dedicated staff had made it possible for us to visualize the beauty of the gardens.’ Each year new discoveries of hidden beauties are made. Lewis’s dream of an estate extending from Skylands to the Ramapo has been realized. The boundaries of Ramapo Park have been extended past Bear Swamp Pond and now join with the wooded acreage of Skylands.