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For the past 8 years, the Northwest Bergen History Coalition has been holding a themed History Day. On History Day, several historic sites in the area are open, running tours and stamping passports. This year, the theme was ‘How Immigration & The Railroad Shaped Our Towns’ with 10 sites participating.
The John Fell House, which was originally called Peterfield, was built in the 1760’s, was expanded in the 1830’s and again in 1915. John Fell was an American Patriot during the Revolutionary War.
Fell had made his fortune with his shipping company, but was imprisoned by the British at the beginning of the war. His famous cell-mate, Ethan Allen, convinced the British to release John Fell when he fell ill in the prison. As a member of the First Continental Congress, he ratified the constitution.
In the 2000’s, the owners were no longer able to keep the mansion up and it was in danger of being sold to developers and demolished to make room for condos. A group called the Concerned Citizens of Allendale raised the funds to purchase the historic home and petitioned to have it added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the non-profit group holds events on the site to raise funds for its restoration. Each Spring, the arrest of John Fell by the British is reenacted for audiences. Docents give tours of the house and help to bring a forgotten page of history back to life.
For History Day, they also had two dancers performing old-fashioned waltzes to a vintage phonograph and presented a slideshow on the history of the railroad in Allendale.
I managed to tour five of the participating sites that day. To see my posts on the other NW Bergen County historic sites, click on the following links:
- The Old Stone House (Ramsey)
- The Schoolhouse Museum (Ridgewood)
- The Hermitage (Ho-ho-kus)
- The Zabriskie House (Wyckoff)
- The John Fell House (Allendale)
Location: 475 Franklin Turnpike, Allendale, NJ 07446
Designation: National Register of Historic Places
Date designation declared: 2011
Date of my visit: 4/28/2018