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By Mildred Taylor
NAMES ON THE LAND today go back to the time when Sarah Kiersted sold some of her over 2,000 acres of land in Teaneck to Laurence Van Boskerck. Early settlers in this area included the Demarests, Brinkerhoffs, Bogerts, Vanderlindas, Zabriskies, Bantas, Terhunes, and Christies -- names well known today.
They built sturdy homes of great charm. Four distinctive "Jersey Dutch" houses in Teaneck were selected, after careful study and measurement, by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the Works Progress Administration in 1936. Three will be pointed out during a bus tour of the township planned for the 75th Anniversary Celebration in October. There will be no visit in the houses.
The houses were built of red sandstone quarried from the valley and set together so expertly that they have stood for 200 years or more. River mud and straw were used for mortar. Most of the homes had gambrel roofs with over-hanging eaves projecting beyond the front wall. The gambrel roof is distinctive of New Jersey Colonial architecture.
Dutch houses were "set by compass" usually facing due south to get the full benefit of sunshine and breeze. Often a "noon mark" was made in the floor of the entrance hall, creating a sundial, since clocks were a luxury. Crews of builders traveled together -- a carpenter, a mason and a blacksmith, camping out while they built houses.
The four houses in Teaneck selected for study by the Historic American Building Survey were: The Brinkerhoff-Demarest Homestead at 493 Teaneck Road; the Casporous Westervelt House, formerly at 190 Teaneck Road, but since houses have been built on the front of the property, the entrance is now on Sherwood Avenue; the John Ackerman House at 1286 River Road and the Samuel Banta house which stood at 1485 Teaneck Road.
Other old homes include the Kipp-Cadmus house at 664 River Road, two charming Vanderlinda houses on Teaneck Road. The Lozier and Ackerman homes on Teaneck Road are gone, so is the Andreas house on the site of Van Boskerck's home. It was razed at the request of Frederick Andreas when he gave the property to the town for a park. The barn still stands.
Van Boskerck, a pious Dane named Laurens Andriessen, became known as Van Boskerck because he would hold services in his home whenever a minister was in the area. In 1716 he gave land to the Christian Protect and Lutheran Congregation. A little stone church was built. He soon became known as Laurence Van Boschkerck--Laurens of the Church in the Greenwood. All that remains of the church is a pan of the burying ground in what is today, Andreas Park. Some tomb stones were washed away by the Hackensack River and others were moved when River Road Was widened.
The oldest house in Teaneck, and perhaps in Bergen County, is the Brinkerhoff-Demarest Homestead. It has been occupied exclusively by members of the two families since it was built between 1728 and 1748. It was built by Henry Brinkerhoff, grandson of Hendrik Jorisse Brinkerhoff who was one of the group that purchased Kiersted property.
Jasper Demarest bought the house from Brinkerhoff in 1829 as a wedding present at the marriage of his son, George, to Sarah Brinkerhoff. Today, it is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Schuh. Mrs. Schuh is the former Edna DeGraw, who 'is a Demarest. Walls of the house are two feet thick. There is a gambrel roof on the main house and a hip roof on the wing. It faces south with a Dutch door opening into a 9 1/2 foot wide center hall. To the right is the parlor and beyond that the back parlor with a Franklin stove. To the left of the hall is a long dinning room and off that, the kitchen. Part of the kitchen was cut off, much to the consternation of the owners, when Teaneck Road was widened some years ago. Upstairs are four bedrooms. The house is filled with treasures of the past.
There is no doubt about the age of the Westervelt house, south of Fort Lee Road. On each side of the entrance are stones in which are carved "WW 1763" (for Wyntje Westervelt) and "CW 1763" for Casporous. The house, facing east, is of red sandstone with gables of siding. The wing is frame. To the right of the broad entrance hall is a living room with adze hewn beams 30 feet long. On the left is a similar room for dining. A fireplace uncovered in later years revealed pots still hanging on iron hooks.
The story goes that during the Revolution Hessians occupied the house, forcing the family to move to barracks along the Hackensack. At another time, the family was evicted by a British officer, who left behind crystal cordial glass and a sword. The third house in Teaneck, whose details are recorded in the Library of Congress is the John Ackerman house at 1286 River Road. The original house --two rooms and a loft--dates to between 1734 and 1737. The addition, now the main part of the house is placed at about 1800. The house originally faced the river, but now the main house faces River Road.
To the right of the large entrance hall is a long living room. A fine staircase rises to the second floor. There is an interesting fireplace in the original building--with a sliding draft to heat the loft and a Dutch oven. At the right of the fireplace is a trap door leading to stairs to the cellar and loft.
John Ackerman was descendant from one of the early settlers from Holland. The house remained in his family until the 1920's when it was sold to Joseph Kinzley. It has been in the Davis family since 1940.
The fourth house studied by the Historical Buildings Survey was the Samuel Banta house at 1485 Teaneck Road. The home, built between 1815 and 1835, was described in the Historic Buildings Survey as "a sweet old farmhouse." It was at one time the home and office of a Dr. Morrison. For many years, it was owned by the late Mr. and Mrs. George Cady. Mr. Cady was supervisor of buildings in the township. The Cady heirs sold it to Mr. and Mrs. James Loretto who would have liked to have it preserved. There were zoning problems. The Lorettos talked to the Bergen County Historical Society. There was talk of moving it from the changing area, and finally, the Lorettos sold the property. The house was razed and soon there will be an office building on the site.
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