The Hackensack sachem, Tantaqua and his kin inhabited the land surrounding the river narrows, which was partly known as Tantaqua’s Plain. It was technologically infeasible to bridge the wide marshes and meadowland lying south of the river narrows, the “new bridge” remained the nearest span across the Hackensack River to Newark Bay after its construction in 1745. Owing to its strategic location at the narrows and its proximity to Manhattan, the principal base of British operation throughout the war, the site has numerous associations with the American Revolution.
Few today can imagine a white-sand beach resort on the boundary between Teaneck and New Milford in what is now Brett park, opposite the Steuben House, but such was the case in the early twentieth century. John D. and Sarah Cole sold the riverfront property in what is now Brett Park, opposite the Steuben House, to Harry A. Bensen, of Teaneck, on June 15, 1911. The Hackensack River bounded this tract on the south and west, Old New Bridge Road bounded it on the north, while a cove or stream known as the Old River bounded it on the east. The only exception was a small lot on the south side of Old New Bridge Road, which was reserved for the old school house. Harry A. Benson was born in New York in 1885, a son of Christian and Margaret Benson, who immigrated to New York in 1867. Their other children were: Christian D., born at New York in 1886; Edgar P., born at New York in 1892; Adele, born at New York in 1896; and Clarence, born in New Jersey in 1900. In 1920, Christian Bensen worked as a collector for a soda water manufacturer. His son, Christian, was bookkeeper at a restaurant. Edgar was employed as a carpenter. Clarence was also a bookkeeper. Harry A. Benson lived with his wife Barbara and their children: Edgar, born 1912; Harry, born 1914. Harry A. Benson was a draper in the upholstery trade. An inset map from Sullivan’s Atlas of Bergen County published in 1936, shows that Harry Benson erected nine riverside cabins or summer cottages along the banks of the Hackensack River in what is now Brett Park. He also erected at least two large garages or shelters on the site (one of which apparently occupied a concrete pad still evident).
The old school house, replaced in 1890 by a new school on River Road, stood along the south side of Old New Bridge Road and a house or cottage stood to the west. An old barn stood beside the south abutment of the bridge.
In 1971, the 10.54 acre park was officially named after long time resident and Teaneck mayor, Clarence W Brett. With the creation of Historic New Bridge Landing, Brett Park became part of the larger part the help further the interpretation of the area, as dictated by the Master Plan established by the Historic New Bridge Landing Park Commission.
Excerpts from The Brett Park Study 1990 by Kevin W. Wright.