Status: Progress Made
1/2001: $1.1 million in federal funds has been secured, with the help of Senator Robert Torricelli, to purchase the former saw shop property (the automobile salvage yard referred to in the listing text.) NJ DEP and Green Acres are overseeing this purchase, so the land will be protected from inappropriate development.
8/2011: NJ’s Division of Parks and Forestry has completed a major exterior restoration of the Steuben House. Historic preservation architects Holt, Morgan, Russell oversaw the project.
2002: Bergen County has funded various recent improvements to the 1889 swing bridge and the Campbell-Christie House.
7/2001: PSE&G has donated $10,000 to the New Bridge Landing Park Commission’s ongoing restoration efforts at the Steuben House.
1/2004: 9 years of work and significant federal, state, county and local funds have resulted in the creation of greenway along Hackensack River. The greenway terminates at New Bridge Landing, and includes interpretive signage detailing historically significant places along its length.
2004: The Bergen County Historical Society received a New Jersey Historic Trust grant to prepare a management plan for the site
5/2010: A revised master plan for Historic New Bridge Landing Park has been completed. Read the plan here. It includes plans to fully restore the Steuben House and address flooding concerns.
New Bridge Landing is a collection of historic structures and sites centered on the Steuben Mansion, a circa 1713-1750 Dutch stone house. New Bridge Landing’s period of significance starts with and extends beyond the Revolutionary War.
In late 1776, the British chased Washington’s army from Fort Lee to Philadelphia. In November, they escaped through New Bridge Landing, the only Hackensack River crossing in the area. After the war, a stone house known as the Zabriskie House, which had been confiscated, was given to General Baron Von Steuben as a reward for his contributions to the effort.
Later, New Bridge Landing was an important shipping point for more than a century, particularly for the Ringwood Iron Works. In 1915, the site was used as the setting for the well-known silent film Mill on the Floss.
The Steuben Mansion is now a state-owned historic site. In addition to the mansion, remnants of the area’s significant 19th-century history, including a swing bridge and the site of one of the first tidal mills in the area, remain. Three other buildings were moved to the site to save them from demolition during the 20th century: the Demerest House, the Westervelt Barn, and the Campbell-Christie House.
New Bridge Landing today is an island in a sea of commercial development. The historic village spans the Hackensack River at the interesction of four municipalities (River Edge, New Milford, Teaneck and Hackensack), and encompasses municipal-, county-, and state-owned resources. The road across the historic swing bridge was abandoned in the 1950s when an extension of Hackensack Avenue was relocated to a new highway bridge north of the Steuben House. While this preserved the immediate setting of the Steuben House, other commercial ventures have developed along Hackensack Avenue, including an automobile salvage yard that constitutes an inappropriate gateway to the New Bridge Landing site and creates a negative first impression for visitors and passerby. This property is currently for sale but has an uncertain future that could include intense development. Additionally, another property to the south of the Steuben House is currently for sale for potential development. The potential for intense commercial development on these properties threatens New Bridge Landing in a myriad of aesthetic and environmental ways, and will likely overwhelm the historic property, negatively impacting its historic integrity and eliminating space for expansion of integral facilities and programs.
Another problem which threatens the site is the change over the last two centuries of tidal flow patterns along the river elevation, leading to an increase in flooding at the Steuben House. The change in previous coverage and stormwater drainage patterns in the surrounding region has likely exacerbated the issue. Frequent high water places both the site’s buildings and their contents in jeopardy, making further study and resolution of the flooding problem key to the survival of New Bridge Landing.
Tim Adriance, Friends of Historic New Bridge Landing,
1201-1209 Main Street
River Edge, NJ 07661
Bob Griffin, New Bridge Landing Commission,
171 Cedar Street,
Englewood, NJ 07631-3022