The Bergen County Historical Society is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization, founded in 1902. Please consider joining us in this endeavor to build a modern museum building on BCHS land at Historic New Bridge Landing. To fulfill its role as steward of an irreplaceable heritage, the BCHS needs to transition to a professionally staffed organization with a modern museum building. We need to discover heretofore-untold stories, which are all together more representative not only of the cultural diversity evident to scholars in the area’s prehistoric inhabitation and its colonial settlement, but which is also immediately relevant to our continuing cultural enrichment in the present day. At this moment of opportunity and challenge, we invite you to help us fashion an authentic experience of our past for the benefit of the broadest possible audience.
The new museum building at Historic New Bridge Landing (HNBL) fulfills several cultural needs of the metro area as identified in the HNBL Master Plan (2010, p. 21-23). A museum is long planned by The Bergen County Historical Society (BCHS) shortly after we acquired adjacent property in 1944. The property acquisition was aimed at protecting the Steuben House from the auto-parts junkyard (now removed and remediated) from spreading into the Steuben House backyard. The Steuben House is a state-historic site.
The planned barn-shaped building is on a scale to compliment the three 18th century historic houses on the site, including the Campbell-Christie House that is interpreted as an 18th century tavern.
As the building nearest to the HNBL parking lot, the new building will serve as an entrance orientation location to welcome visitors from around the world. Theater programs, historical reenactments, lectures, workshops, meetings and fundraising events can take place both on the elevated ground floor, outside on the deck and the adjacent brick-gathering area. The deck is created to accommodate handicap access to the 100-person occupancy ground-level space. Importantly, for the whole site to function, two ADA bathrooms are part of the design. Currently, there are only two bathrooms on the museum site, one is an upstairs bathroom in the 18th century Steuben House. The Campbell-Christie has one awkwardly located ADA bathroom. The room on the east-side will multifunction as a catering-kitchen (no stove) and small meeting space. BCHS began collecting artifacts at its founding in 1902. Currently, fragile items like the textiles (quilts, coverlets, clothing) and paintings are subject to uneven conditions of humidity and temperature that are not advantageous for their long-term preservation. An upper floor is planned for climate-controlled collection storage. Additionally, the elevated ground floor will be available to collection exhibits including our white-oak dugout canoe that is in storage because of its size, 15 feet long. Found in Hackensack in 1868, the Smithsonian advised in the early 1900s that it is Native American.
As stakeholders, stewards of history and a leading member of the HNBL Park Commission, we hope the new museum building and site activities will help grow the new economy of Bergen County and State of New Jersey through heritage tourism. Currently, BCHS provides all programming at the storied site.