Historic New Bridge Landing Park
Historic New Bridge Landing Park
Steuben House Jan and Annetje (Ackerman) Zabriskie prospered as miller and merchant at this site. They built a five-room stone cottage in 1752 and enlarged the house to the present size in 1767 by adding a second story along the rear and the entire north block with its paneled parlor and bed chamber. During the Revolutionary War, the Zabriskies sided with the Crown and fled to British-held Manhattan. Washington made the house his headquarters for 10 days in 1780. New Bridge served as a battleground, fort, encampment ground, military headquarters, and intelligence-gathering post in every year of the American Revolutionary War.
The State of New Jersey presented the confiscated house to Major-General Baron von Steuben in 1783. It is the only extant 18th century building he owned. Described in 1784 as a "Large Mansion House containing twelve rooms built with stone, with Out-houses consisting of a Bake House, Smoke House, Coach House, and two large Barns, and a Garden, Forty Acres of Land consisting of Meadow Land and two Orchards." Steuben's aide-de-camp, Capt. Benjamin Walker resided here, while Steuben made regular visits and summer retreats from his Manhattan lodgings. Steuben restored the war-damaged home and this is largely the house that you see today. He sold it back to the Zabriskies in 1788. The house and one acre were purchased by State of New Jersey in 1928. In 1939, the Bergen County Historical Society was invited to display its collections at the museum. BCHS purchased the adjacent 8 acres in 1944, thus preserving a fragment of Bergen Dutch countryside.
The Bergen County Historical Society opens the house for special events.
New Bridge A "New Bridge" with sliding draw was built here in 1744. Describing the American retreat from Fort Lee on November 20, 1776, eyewitness Thomas Paine wrote, "Our first object was to secure the bridge over the Hackensack…" memorializing the darkest hour in the hopes for American independence as the "times that try men's souls." This strategic crossing was in constant conflict during the war because it was the first bridge above Newark Bay.
The present Pratt-type low-truss swing bridge opened Feb. 2, 1889. The bridge was so perfectly balanced that one person alone could rotate the bridge to let ships pass. The bridge was closed to auto traffic in 1956. Listed on NJ & National Registers by BCHS as the oldest highway swing-bridge in New Jersey.
New Bridge Landing A narrow mill landing, built of log cribbing in 1744, could accommodate sloops of 40-ton burden. Local products were shipped south, including iron which was brought overland from Ringwood and Long Pond Ironworks. Merchandise brought back from city markets was sold in the Zabriskie store (See website for store inventory). http://www.bergencountyhistory.org/Pages/zabriskieinventory.html
Zabriskie's Mills Johannes Ackerman resided near the present intersection of Main St. and Elizabeth Ct.
He built a gristmill, 40 x 20 feet, containing two pairs of grinding stones in 1714 at the outlet of Cole's Brook. High tide was trapped behind the dam, creating an artificial pond twice daily to run the waterwheel during ebb tide. Area farmers brought grain to be ground into flour for a more valuable commodity. Jan Zabriskie purchased the tidemill in 1745. The date stone lozenge set in the south end of the Zabriskie-Steuben House depicts the tide-driven waterwheel. Jan's grandson, John J. Zabriskie, aged 25, died trying to free the waterwheel in 1793. The mill burned down in 1852.
Campbell-Christie House Jacob Campbell, a mason, erected this gambrel-roofed, center-hall sandstone dwelling at River Rd. & Henley Ave., New Milford, in 1774 at the time of his marriage to Altche Westervelt. Jacob was a private in the Bergen Militia and the house was damaged in the American Revolution. John Christie, blacksmith, purchased the house in 1795 and continued its operation as a tavern. J. Walter Christie, born in the house in 1865, is considered the "father of the modern tank" and best known for developing the Christie Suspension System used in World War II. Threatened with demolition, the house was moved to Historic New Bridge Landing onto BCHS land in 1977 by the County of Bergen. The Campbell-Christie House is operated and funded by BCHS, and interpreted as an 18th century tavern. Refreshments, gift shop & rest room. Open for special events.
Demarest House Museum This two-room sandstone cottage was built in 1794 for miller John Paulson at the time of his marriage to Altie Ely. The stove chimney in east room is a technological advance over fireplaces. The house was moved from the original site beside the French Burial Ground in New Milford in 1955-56. Demarest family and Bergen Dutch artifacts are on display. Owned by the Blauvelt-Demarest Foundation; restored in 2009. The house is operated by BCHS and open for special events.