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  • Sue Tryforos, Borough Historian

The Borough Grows, 1910-1916

For this year's Quasquicentennial Celebration, The Rock Recorder Blog will post a chronological (as much as possible) history of Glen Rock, NJ. My main source for framing this series is an unpublished manuscript in the Glen Rock Historical & Preservation Society's archive, which was written by George Hubschmitt. This is Part #12 of the series.

With the Glen Rock Volunteer Fire Department organized, the borough was even more attractive to new residents. The Smith-Singer Company, having steadily proceeded down Maple Avenue with its neighborhood developments, looked for new fields for expansion. The John Andrew Marinus woods across Maple Avenue from School #1 had been logged off in 1908-1910. After the Firemen's Fair in 1910 (see previous Rock Recorder Blog post on the Fire Department HERE), the Smith-Singer Company secured this property and began building operations. This is the area of Ackerman Avenue, Maple Avenue, Rock Road and Berkeley Place. (Read about Smith-Singer’s early development in more detail HERE).

An early promotional piece from Smith-Singer Realty Company

With increased home building came extension of water mains by the Bergen Aqueduct system. The first fire hydrants were installed in 1910: there were three put in on Maple Avenue, at the intersections with South Highwood Avenue, Ackerman Avenue and in front of School #1 (located where the Central School parking lot is now). In 1912 the Council was petitioned to lay sidewalks on Rock Road from the Boulevard to Ackerman Avenue, and on Edward’s Lane (now Hamilton Avenue between Rock Road and Harristown Road).

During the summer of 1912 there was a battle to save the Rock for future generations. Fortunately there was 18” of the Rock that lay on the right of way of Rock Road. The Smith-Singer Company had purchased the Marinus’ properties adjacent to the Rock and was planning to extend Doremus Avenue southward along the line of the old farm lane. The easiest way to put in the Doremus Extension would be to simply blast the Rock out of the way. The Glen Rock Council attempted to obtain the title to the Rock from Smith-Singer but failed. After a heated discussion between the parties that ended in a deadlock, Councilman J. Oscar Bunce strode from the room with the remark, “All right, destroy it. But don’t disturb a damned inch that’s on Rock Road!” This was the clincher. The Company then agreed to deed their portion of the Rock to the Borough. On September 9, 1912, William Sybesma & Sons was awarded a contract for work at the Rock: constructing retaining walls, $92; filling cracks, $20; sidewalks at 10¢ per square foot; curbing at 30¢ per lineal foot.

On October 13, 1913, the Mayor and Council appointed Martin A. Jensen (pictured at right) as the Chief of Police. Until this time, the policing duties in Glen Rock were handled by part-time marshals. A few months after Jensen's appointment, the Mayor and Council agreed to purchase a bicycle for police use (Jensen had furnished his own bicycle before the official borough bicycle was purchased).

In early 1914, the Council accepted the following streets as public streets: Rodney (from Main to Maple), Birchwood (from Rodney to Bradford), Bradford (from Birchwood to Main) and Main (from Bradford to Rock). Also accepted as public streets in 1914: Midwood (between Park and Grove Avenue), Forest (to Grove), Glendale, Beech and Grove Avenue – this neighborhood is known as the Prospect Park section of Glen Rock. Roads were only accepted as “public” once the developer had improved the streets to the satisfaction of the borough, a process that often took a couple of years. In 1915, the Glen Rock Council petitioned the Bergen County Board of Freeholders to take over Lincoln Avenue (from Rock to Harristown) and all of Prospect Street as county roads.

Telephones were starting to appear more frequently in Glen Rock around this time. In September 1914, the police phone was updated from a party line to a direct line with a box and bell on the pole outside of the jail in the Smith-Singer Building at the corner of Rock Road and Main Street. The one-room police department was located on the ground floor of the Smith-Singer Building. The borough rented this space, plus an additional room on the second floor for use by the borough clerk, at a cost of $400 per year. A telephone was also placed in Barney Van der Weert’s home so that he could bring his horses more quickly to pull the fire wagon when needed at night (he was paid $5 each time his team of horses was needed). The Council Minutes from November 5, 1915 (the originals are now missing but George Hubschmitt related this entry in his history) note that warrant # 1924 drawn to the order of Barney Van der Weert for $5.00 had been returned “for private reasons”. Mr. Van der Weert had brought his team of horses to the firehouse in response to an alarm on a Sunday night but his scruples forbade him from accepting any pay for Sunday work. On December 11, 1916, a contract was drawn up for the Paterson Vehicle Company to convert Glen Rock’s horse-drawn fire apparatus to motor driven for the sum of $2,135.00

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