The Van Voorhees-Quackenbush-Zabriskie House has been a local landmark for over 275 years and is believed to be the oldest structure in Wyckoff. In 1720 William and John Van Voor Haze, yeomen of Bergen County, purchased 550 acres of land in what is now Wyckoff. The brothers were descended from Dutch settlers who emigrated from Holland in 1660. The first small stone house was built circa 1730 by William. The land was cleared and the family farmed, raising table crops and staples such as grain, corn, potatoes and grapes. Over time, apple orchards and dairy farming became main occupations in the area. The Jersey Dutch were especially skilled at animal husbandry, and were considered the best farmers and gardeners in the American colonies. There were only about 20 families in the area in 1775 when the house served as the village store and tavern. William’s son Albert served in the Militia in the Revolutionary War. The original stone structure later became the dining room of the house, when a large addition was added in 1824 by William’s son Albert when he was 86 years old. He had just one son, John, but likely expanded the house for his nine grandchildren and their wives and children. Over the years, in addition to serving as a home, the house has served as a not only as a home, tavern and store but also as a hotel and ballroom for area parties.
The original 1730 house has a steeply pitched roof and overhanging eaves designed to protect the building and foundation from rain. It has a two piece “Dutch” door to allow ventilation while keeping animals outside. Inside is a five foot high fireplace which originally was the sole source of heat and was used for all cooking. The much larger 1824 structure is three stories originally tall with a sub-basement. It contains four fireplaces, again for heat. It has two half and four quarter moon windows and two oval windows. There are four bedrooms with pegs to hang clothes on (no closets then). Its exterior demonstrates the classic Dutch Gambrel roof with an upper 23 degree roof line and then a lower 45 degree roof line. This beautiful design was developed by the Dutch in northern New Jersey and up the Hudson River and is found nowhere else in the world. The typical Dutch front porch has two benches on either side of the entrance.
The property left the Van Voorhees family in the mid-1800s. In1867, it was purchased by Uriah Quackenbush. Uriah and Keziah Quackenbush had one son, John, who died as a young adult. Grace Quackenbush was his only child and was two years old when he died. She was raised in the house by her grandparents who left the property to her when they passed on, after Grace had married John Zabriskie.
During her lifetime, Grace modernized the house (including adding an indoor bathroom) and restored the appearance of the home using authentic period antique furniture and furnishings. She also created three beautiful formal gardens on the landscaped property with her friend Mrs. Elizabeth Spencer, a botany major. The house is considered one of the finest examples of American architecture in northern New Jersey. The current House Museum has been called one of the finest in New Jersey.
In 1973, Mrs. Grace Q. Zabriskie who was the last resident, willed the house and its antique furnishings to the Township of Wyckoff when she died in 1973, therefore, the “Zabriskie” House belongs to everyone in Wyckoff. Previously she gave Zabriskie Pond to the Township. Current trustees are: Jim Abma, Judy Abma, Jean Hildebrandt and Richard Lynch.
The historic Van Voorhees-Quackenbush-Zabriskie House is recognized by Bergen County, the State of New Jersey and the United States. It is listed on the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places, as proposed by Bergen County. It was included in the Historic American Structures Survey with 1937 photographs and architectural drawings preserved in the Library of Congress. It has been designated a New Jersey Landmark. Wyckoff has appointed four trustees to preserve and oversee the property and insure its use as a local history museum open to the public.
It is hoped that all area residents take the opportunity to visit the “Zabriskie House” during open house tour days. Currently, a great deal of restoration work is going on with much more planned as funding allows. More open houses for the public and private tours by area school children are now being planned.
The Zabriskie House is located at 421 Franklin Avenue at the corner of Maple Avenue in Wyckoff, NJ 07481. From the corner of Franklin and Wyckoff Avenue go west one block (past Zabriskie Pond). There is an historic marker on the corner.
Please visit and consider DONATING to help restore and preserve this valuable and rare local historic treasure.