Glen Ridge Historical Society invites residents to learn about the borough’s past

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GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Glen Ridge Historical Society has new digs.

Recently moved into a space at the Glen Ridge Congregational Church, the Glen Ridge Historical Society is back up and running after a pandemic hiatus of a year and a half, and is ready to welcome researchers back with open arms. On the second Saturday of every month, the archive is open for Ridgers from 9 to 11:30 a.m. to look up any borough history that interests them.

“We have a file on every house in Glen Ridge,” society President Jen Janofsky said in a phone interview with The Glen Ridge Paper on July 19. “Some are really thick and some are thin, but we have them all. We can determine the age, the style of the house. If it’s prominent, we can probably find the architect who built it.”

Most people head to the historical society to look for information about their house, excited to learn what it looked like before they lived there and the background behind it. With a variety of different styles contained in the 1.28-square-mile town, they also want more information about their individual neighborhoods.

Home documents aren’t the only thing in the archive — the society also has a treasure trove of old Glen Ridge memorabilia. A few years ago the members hosted an exhibit on fashion. Old yearbooks, cheerleading megaphones and Glen Ridge High School athletic varsity letters are kept in storage. The fourth-graders at Ridgewood Avenue School get to see a lot of it, when town historian Sally Meyer brings a trunk to the school for a history unit each year.

“Whenever we can, we talk about the people of Glen Ridge, not just brick and stone,” Janofsky said. “The second you hand people an object, there’s a connection made. It’s exciting to see something in a tangible form.”

There are also quite a few photos in the society’s archive, which are often shared on the club’s Facebook page. Oftentimes residents see themselves or people they know in the photos; Janofsky said people who have moved out of Glen Ridge see them and share memories, typing from wherever they live now.

“It’s one of the most fun things about the Facebook page,” she said. “They remember the people in the photos or the places, and it starts a fun conversation.”

Now that it’s open to the public again in a new location and pandemic restrictions have eased, the society is gearing up for fall events. The annual walking tour will be back in October, allowing residents to stroll down the borough streets to learn about the buildings they see every day.

“We pick a different neighborhood every time,” Janofsky said. “We try to pick areas that aren’t just houses, so this year it’ll be in the Herman Street area, where the municipal buildings are and where the fire station used to be. Just because it’s not there doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. We can help give people an understanding of that.”

The calendar isn’t set in stone yet for when the full slate of upcoming events will be happening; to keep apprised, residents can follow or The organization is eager for new and renewed memberships, which can be purchased through the website.

“The thing we need now is members,” Janofsky said. “We’re hoping to remind people to support us. We’re eager to have them.”

Photos Courtesy of Jen Janofsky and Glen Ridge Historical Society