Since 1719, the Garretson family has held Garretson Forge and Farm. It is one of the county’s oldest historical places, located in Fair Lawn, Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. Built in 1720, the Peter Garretson House (also known as the Garretson-Brocker Home) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 19, 1974.
The immigration of three Dutch emigrants, Gerrit Gerritse, his wife Annetje Hermansse, and their son Gerrit, started the history of Garretson Forge and Farm in the 17th century. Gerrit bought the Slooterdam Patent, a large area of the property, from a merchant called David Daniellse in 1719. This parcel of property was enormous, comprising several municipalities that are now part of Bergen and Passaic, including Fair Lawn. Shortly after the site was purchased, Gerrit’s son Peter commenced building, and the history of Garretson Forge and Farm began. Garretson Forge and Farm, formerly known as “The Garretson-Brocker House,” hosted six generations of Garretsons for almost a century.
Garretson Forge and Farm was a vast plantation that farmed various crops and housed several slaves throughout its early years. However, parts of the Garretson Forge and Farm were sold off over time. The land is now a little under 2 acres. Garretson Forge and Farm has seen several changes over the years, including the building and repairing of the main estate, which is now a living museum. The manor house had substantial renovations in 1902, including the addition of a second story, an exterior porch, and a new roof. The 1902 improvements gave Garretson Forge and Farm its current appearance.
Feenix Brocker sold the Garretson site to a private builder for residential construction in 1974. However, community members were interested in obtaining the property for preservation after realizing its historical significance. Therefore, in 1974, the Garretson Forge and Farm Restoration, Inc. were formed to gather finances for the acquisition. The required finances for the purchase of the land were obtained via the organization’s efforts, the community at large, and government authorities.
Garretson Forge and Farm Restoration Inc. generated money to pay off the current mortgage, maintain the property, and restore the kitchen to its original design from the eighteenth century. Money was also spent on items and documents relevant to the history of Garretson.
The property was deeded over to the Bergen County Freeholders in 1977 once the mortgage was paid off. The Garretson homestead, now a county historical monument, is being managed by members of Garretson Forge and Farm Restoration, Inc.
Garretson Forge and Farm Restoration, Inc. aims to conserve and maintain the Garretson farmhouse while making it available to the public, educate the wider community about local and state history, and promote ecologically sustainable farming techniques and biodiversity.
To learn more, contact the farm at (201) 797-1775 and (551) 206-4380.