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Ridgewood Schoolhouse Museum

Back in February I lost my grandmother. Due to her wishes, timing (middle of a rough winter in New Hampshire) and our family being spread all over the world there wasn’t a service immediately following her passing. So when I learned I’d be in New Jersey in April I made time in my schedule to visit the Schoolhouse Museum, maintained by the Ridgewood Historical Society, where my grandmother volunteered for years.

I have fond memories of the Schoolhouse as a child. When I last went it was still set up as a one room schoolhouse with a desk for the teacher in front, blackboards and desks for students. Displays of historical artifacts lined the edges of the room and I remember stories from my grandfather extolling the benefits of the one room schoolhouse.

Since I had been there last, there were a lot of changes. Instead of being set up like a classroom, it’s now a series of more sparsely spaced exhibits which gives the museum a much brighter feel. And while I do miss the traditional feel of the old place, this new format has allowed them to have more extensive revolving exhibits, which keep the museum relevant to locals and visitors alike.

It was nice to see the back rooms still had some of the artifacts I was familiar with, from uniforms of various soldiers in various wars who called Ridgewood home, to the farm exhibit that spoke to the farming origins of the village.

During our visit they were showcasing a diversity exhibit in the main room, seeking to highlight some of historically less celebrated (and even actively discriminated against) communities that have made up Ridgewood over the years. The beautiful exhibit highlighted artifacts from the Native Americans who first lived on the land, and community members of Jewish, African American, Korean and Irish ancestry.

Perhaps best of all, I was able to meet a couple of the docents who were exceptionally welcoming to us. One of them had worked with my grandmother and they both were able to fill me in on some of the extraordinary work my grandmother did organizing some of their collections. We even had the honor of going upstairs to the attic to browse their storage, walking up that narrow staircase also brought back a flood of memories!

Huge thanks to the docents I met with for making the visit such a pleasure, and to Board of Trustees president Sheila Brogan for making me feel welcome via email prior to our visit!

More photos from our visit are available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157644219844720/