Hoffman Grove

Located on the other side of the river is a small community called Hoffman grove. It is located on the banks of the Pequannok river and as a result the area is subject to frequent flooding. Located not a half mile from Button Woods, it is a much larger community, and does not have the same sense of decay as abandonment. Both areas are in the process of being bought out by the state.

Since the mid 90’s the river has flooded so many times, and so much money has been spent helping the homeowners rebuild that a flood relief project was briefly considered. The plan was to construct giant tunnels that would lead to Newark which would drain the river to safe levels before it would flood the local homes. The cost was estimated at 2 billion dollars, so buying out the homeowners was viewed as a cheaper and less labor intensive solution. For the past 15 years slowly but surely, homes have been bought by the state and leveled.

I never knew about Hoffman grove until 2004 when I saw an ad in the paper for a house in Wayne for 200K. At this point you were lucky to find a house in Wayne for twice that much money so I assumed it must be a fixer upper. I found the address and looked it up on a map and realized it was just north of Button Woods. I also noticed that there was a huge gap between this small community and anything else. I immediately knew this way not a house I’d want to buy, but remained curious about Hoffman grove.

To get there, you must travel thru this one lane rr underpass…


then another one


before arriving at Hoffman Grove.


According to the sign it’s a private community, and you must agree to join the Hoffman Grove Association. As I drove thru, I saw numerous rundown houses, as well as empty lots where houses had once stood. Most of the remaining houses looked normal and well kept, although it’s obvious many of them were raised up to avoid the frequent floods.. I didn’t see anything out of place, no one eyed children, no grossly large men with heavy jawlines or large foreheads, but the entire place had this weird vibe to it. There was smell in the air, a scent that I didn’t belong here. That this was a private community where everyone knows everyone else. I’m sure the frequent floods have caused the neighbors to band together to help one another, created a sense of community and togetherness. Perhaps that’s created a sense of “us vs them” mentality too?

The area is physically isolated by the river to the southwest and acres and acres of forests and marshes and bogs to the north. No one comes here unless they have to, or they’re lost. I saw a handful of people as I drive thru, but I didn’t sense I was welcome. I imagine these people to be rugged individuals with a spirit of self sufficiency. How could you not when your house could flood several times a year?



16 responses to this post.

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  3. Posted by Michael McKeon on March 3, 2021 at 10:43 PM

    There definitely was a us vs. them mentality in the grove. We were looked down upon by most people in Wayne. We were the river rats, the low life’s, the ones who were poor in a very wealthy town. Life down there was great before the buyouts We all knew each other and looked out for one another. The Grove had a great smell, it’s different but it was sweet, it was home to many of us. While I’m happy to be out of there and no longer subjected to flooding, I wish my children could experience the sense of community we had. You never had to worry about someone trying to take your kid or anything bad. The “bad apples” who tried to start problems didn’t last too long in the Grove.


  4. Posted by Joan on April 4, 2017 at 6:24 PM

    Sad that Hoffman’s Grove is no longer the great summer place that I remember in the 1960’s. It’s true we did have flooding, but
    not too often and certainly not enough to ruin our summer days. I will always remember with fond memories the fun my siblings and I experienced so many years ago.


    • Posted by lostinjersey on July 9, 2017 at 8:13 AM

      from what I understand the flooding has gotten much worse the last 3 decades. global climate change will do that. I’m glad they never went thru with that crazy plan to build a diversion tunnel back in the 90s. can’t see how that would have helped and was pegged at 2B, which converted to jersey money means 4B


  5. Posted by Brenda on April 4, 2017 at 5:58 PM

    It was a great place to grow up as a kid. Your parents always new the neighbors were looking out for us. For my parents it was an affordable way to buy a house after my Dad got out of the service. He was able to afford a home in a good area and it allowed me the luxery of a good education outside of a city environment.


  6. Posted by Sam on April 4, 2017 at 11:33 AM

    I grew up here, born n raised. It was nice to read your impression of it. It must seem bizarre to stumble upon this woodsy neighborhood in Wayne when you never knew it existed. Most people in Wayne I think, who don’t live in old Wayne or mud valley even knows it’s there or ever did. It’s a well hidden secret with a great history, despite its current state.
    Btw, the houses weren’t lifted, they were built that way.
    I hope you eventually found the right place for you.


    • Posted by lostinjersey on July 9, 2017 at 8:14 AM

      I wish I had seen the place before the flooding got so severe. Im sure it was a very different place. Seems rather insular and I don’t mean that negatively. Just that it was small and everybody knew everybody.


  7. When I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and
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  8. we bought a 3 bedroom house in the grove(probably the only one with 3 bedrooms)
    in 1988 on brookside rd. raised 2 great kids who were able to attend the wayne school system gotta tell ya not a better bunch of people(barring some, as in anywhere) did i have the the opportunity to live and party with for 23 years! Yea i paid off the mortgage and looked foward to somemore great times UNTIL hurricane irene. WIPED US OUT!!!!!!!!!!!! OUR HOUSE WAS BUILT UP 6 FOOT OFF THE GROUND AND STILL GOT OVER 2 FOOT OF WATER INSIDE OUR HOME!LOST EVERYTHING!!!!! had to go! luckily FEMA gave us a fair price and we now live in PA but will always remember the great times we and our kids and their friends had in HOFFMAN GROVE


  9. […] first wrote about Hoffman Grove back in 2006 when I explored the area after one of the homes there was listed in the paper for sale. $200K for a […]


  10. Posted by The Grove Man on February 24, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    Wow, this was a hefty 2 1/2 years ago…. just wow….. there are only 20 houses left here now after irene in augoust 11’…. 10 ft. of water…. wow…


  11. Posted by Bob in Tulsa on March 14, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    I too was raised in Hoffman Grove, but we lived there year round and I attended 1 thru 12 grades of school. I remember :

    * the bar and store attached to the above dance-hall
    * picnics at the ballpark
    * getting water from the well
    * Sleepy Hollow downriver
    * walking the railroad tracks to town and school
    * me delivering the daily newspaper by bike
    * the switch tower at the railroad crossing
    * steam locomotives, the smell of coal
    * living outdoors, no AC
    * the yearly floods

    All this and only 25 miles from NYC !!


  12. Posted by Karen on April 13, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    Thanks for the pics! I summered in Hoffman Grove when I was a kid – late 40’s to mid 60’s. What a wonderful place to go to get out of the city!!!! At first we had an outhouse. Then the “toilet” was installed in a closet on the back porch! There was a “clubhouse” where we went for barn dances and parties. And we could swim in the polluted river at either “Low Dock” or “High Dock”. We didn’t know it was polluled then! But I loved it there! tHANKS!


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