Zabriskie Tenant House

Zabriskie Tenant House
The Zabriskie Tenant House in summer 2011
Zabriskie Tenant House
Location 273 Dunkerhook Road, Paramus, New Jersey

40°56′53″N 74°5′50″W / 40.94806°N 74.09722°W / 40.94806; -74.09722Coordinates: 40°56′53″N 74°5′50″W / 40.94806°N 74.09722°W / 40.94806; -74.09722

Area 1.2 acres (0.49 ha)
Governing body Private
MPS Stone Houses of Bergen County TR
NRHP Reference # 84002602[1]
 # 623[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP July 24, 1984
Designated  October 3, 1980

The Zabriskie Tenant House was an historic house of the American colonial architecture style called Dutch Colonial on Dunkerhook Road in Paramus, New Jersey, adjacent to the Saddle River County Park. The Zabriskie family, who farmed much of the area to the east of the Saddle River (Passaic River), built the home to house their slaves, who remained tenants even after they were liberated. It was one of the few structures left in New Jersey directly related to slavery in the state and was a remnant resource of the African American Dunkerhook community, which until the early 20th century included homes, a school, an A.M.E. Church, and a cemetery. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 24, 1984.

Developers Sal and Marcello Petruzella made a proposal to demolish the house and subdivide the land for the development of larger stylized houses with no reference to the historical community. [3][4] In spite of the house's listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the New Jersey Register of Historic Places, and Paramus's own listing of historic resources, the Paramus Planning Board approved the demolition in late April, 2011, and the house was scheduled to be demolished in June, 2011.[5] Preservation New Jersey, the state's historic preservation advocacy group, put the house on its 2012 Most Endangered Historic Properties List. Local historians and preservationists, including Peggy Norris, Ted Manvell, and H. Michael Gelfand, worked out a plan to move the house to Bergen Community College for an educational adaptive reuse. This plan was supported by the County's Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Bergen County Executive, and the administration of Bergen Community College. The college's campus was also a part of the Zabriskie landholdings, and began to draw up plans for the placement of the house and its use in an educational function. The county was in the process petitioning the state for funds to move and rehabilitate the structure [6] when on 13 July 2012, the developers Sal and Marcello Petruzella demolished the Zabriskie Tenant House with no warning or indication to the preservation community. [7]

This loss was devastating for the future understanding of the history of Dutch agricultural settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries, African Americans as slaves and freed peoples in New Jersey, and the rural nature of Bergen County that gave way to the massive suburban development after World War II. The house was of a similar plan as the Naugle House, across the Saddle River in the Borough of Fair Lawn, which utilized open space funds to purchase the Naugle House. The Borough of Paramus failed to make such an effort, but in 2013 seated a Historic Preservation Commission to prevent the loss of other historic resources in the borough.

See also


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