Hoffman Grove slowly slips away

I 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 house in Wayne? Yeah, what’s the catch? Oh yeah… constant flooding. Read the original post for the full story, but I found much had changed since I last visited in 2008. here’s some pics. At that time the community was still vibrant and most had refused to be bought out. There was an attitude of “this is what we have to put up with” and the desire to stay was string. After several floods in 2008, the state took action and in 2009, 36 homes were slated to be bought out.. There were several bad floods in early 2011, but Hurricane irene in August of 2011 was the final blow. FEMA stepped in and most of the remaining homes were bought out.

I took a visit to Hoffman grove this morning and what I saw was depressing. There were still many homes left, but most had plywood over the 1st level windows. Some had them over the doors and garage entrances as well. Yet I could clearly see curtains and items inside the 2nd floor windows. And some had cars in front of them. After driving around several times it became clear: cars meant there was a current resident. No cars meant no one was there and never would be again. Many left behind gas grills, toys, lawn furniture and other personal possessions. Saddest of all was the sight of this flag, upside down, the official sign for distress.

here are some pictures I took, the rest are on Flickr

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12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by samantha Hall on November 1, 2016 at 9:00 PM

    I’m not sure if I missed it, but in case it was ‘forgotten’, The Grove, before it was a country hideaway for New Yorkers was actually a Scout Camp. I’ve seen pics of the aerial photos from the way back machine showing the camp sites. I have a dream of going back to jersey and restoring it to its original purpose. 🙂 How cool would that be?

    Reply

  2. Posted by Carole Cuneo on May 5, 2015 at 7:20 PM

    What wonderful memories of our kids growing up in a safe place where they could run around & not worry about traffic or troubles. We left in 1976 so we didn’t have the BIG flood of the 80’s. Thanks for the memories.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Joan Campbell on August 30, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    Oh what wonderful memories … I always felt like we were “rich” because of the summers we left Brooklyn and went to our summer home in Hoffman’s Grove (during the 50’s). The O’Hara family would pack the car and drive the one-hour trip to our little house right on the river. I remember “low dock and high dock”. And my dad and Uncle built “sun dock and floating dock” right by our house where we swam and fished for hours during the day. And yes, how I remember Button Road and the end of year parade. In fact, when my brother turned 60, I gave him a picture of him dressed as a “chicken” pulling his princess sister in a wagon (boy, did his kids laugh at that sight).

    My dad was a NYC policeman and I was the oldest of 3 kids. My brother, Mike, was 3 years younger and my sister, Cathy, 9 years younger than me. My mom and dad were the best parents any kid could have and we made the most of our family times. Rich doesn’t just mean having lots of money; Rich in memories fills your heart forever.

    Loved my childhood … Thanks Mom & Dad!

    Joanie

    Reply

  4. Posted by Karen Gubner on May 19, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    My parents bought a bungalow in Hoffman Grove from a relative in the early 1940’s. I was 2 weeks old when my parents first brought me there. We lived in Jersey City but every warm weekend and when school was out in the summer, we lived in “the Grove”!

    It was WONDERFUL to get out of “the City” to get out into the country. We had a “Clubhouse” on North Road where we had Square Dances, Halloween Parties, meetings, etc. At “Low Dock”, our mothers brought us when we were young and we learned to swim there. At “High Dock” where the water was deeper, we swam when we were older and they had “Corn Fests” there. I can’t think of anyone who had a shower in their bungalow so we took baths in the river. There were 3 deep wells in Hoffman Grove where we went with our gallon jugs for drinking water. Most had outhouses in the early days. My father put in a toilet on the back porch when I was about 5. Mom did the wash in sun-warmed water in the back yard.

    Over Labor Day weekend ever year, we had a BIG end-of-the-season party out in the field between the 2 single lane bridges that you had to go through to get into Hoffman Grove (out by “Button Road”). We had ponies brought in. They played games like tossing eggs and one-legged burlap bag races, etc. And the BIG thing was “The Baby Parade”. Parents dressed up their kids in all sorts of costumes and walked them or pulled them through the field in a wagon. And they used to have bathing suit competition for the young women.

    Ohhh – how I hate to see them tear down Hoffman Grove. It was a WONDERFUL place to spend the summers back in the 50’s and early 60’s. My parents finally sold their bungalow in 1972 when they retired and moved out of New Jersey. It wasn’t a beautiful place but when I was a kid, it was like heaven getting out of the city and “goin’ to the country”!!!!

    “You can’t go home anymore”. 😦

    Karen

    Reply

  5. Posted by lostinjersey on March 28, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    I got this email from a fan….

    Just for the records the river that flows past Hoffman Grove is called the Pompton. In Pompton Lakes the Wanaque River Flows South out of Lake Inez and is joined by the Pequannock River to become The Pompton. Along it’s course it is joined by the Ramapo (which flows south out of Pompton Lake, why the Ramapo is not called the Pomton is anyone’s guess). The River is called the Pompton as it flows past the Grove and on till it meets the Passaic at Two Bridges. Then it is part of the mighty Paasaic as it makes a crazy loopy run to Newark Bay.

    The Grove in the 1020-30s was a summer place for vacationing New Yorkers. Cottages were owned or rented and were named and painted bright colors…Blue Bird, Mayflower and such. These summer cottages later became permanent houses and the Grove became an Association owned by the Residents. My Grandparents had a House in the Grove on West Road and it was a super place for kids.The river was beautiful with lots of sunfish, turtles, snakes, and golden sands (yes golden!!!!) In Summer we stayed in the water till we turned blue! Across the river from the Grove was Arnie’s(?) Tavern and canoes pulled up at night to the dock while the Juke Box played “Peg O My Heart” (It’s 1940s now). Later at night you could hear the wobbly legged patrons try to get back in their canoes or skinny dipping in the Pompton (lots of laughter). Hard to believe but it was a little piece of heaven.
    What we called the Button factory must be what is now called Button Woods? As kids we loved to go to the dump outside the Factory. We had to have an adult go with us since there were smoldering plastic heaps with tons of buttons, cups, plastic dodads and all sorts of discards from the factory. The factory looked like a cartoon drawing of a factory with belching smoke stacks and weird smells. We came home with all sorts of stuff and why we didn’t die from exposure to toxic waste is a wonder.
    I can close my eyes and see it all just the way it was and walk over the tracks into Mountain View. At least I know they are buying all the land up along the Pompton to make a River Walk. At least it stands a chance to revert back to nature.
    Thank you for your Web Site and for “Gone But Not Forgotten”. Hoffman Grove certainly is not Forgotten.

    Reply

    • Posted by Steve on July 3, 2012 at 2:58 PM

      Thanks for posting, interesting info

      Reply

      • Posted by Linda on November 17, 2013 at 1:01 AM

        Lovely post. My mom and step ad lived on River Rd . I lived in Ny and myhusband and I would go to “the country” every sat. Then we had our children. Oh how they koved to fish off the back of my moms house or go in the row boat with their dad.. in the 80’s i belueve was a major flood. My moms housewas high up but still got 13 inchesin her house. He spent many days in the shelter My boys would yell there is nana and pop pop !!!They’re on tv. Mom refused to move and passed away at home on River Rd in 1987 and my stepdad passed 12 yrs ago. I belive it is 1 of the 2 houses left on River Rd. Wonderful memories were made there wonderful neighbors

        Reply

    • I used to live on the Pompton River in Wayne as a small child, but I’m not sure if it was in the Hoffman Grove section. My address was on Fairfield Road and we had to walk over a bridge to get to our house. Do anyone know what this section was called?

      Reply

      • Posted by samantha Hall on November 1, 2016 at 8:56 PM

        That’s not the Grove, but I know the spot you’re talking about. I grew up in the grove and I went to a birthday party once when I was a kid on the little island you’re talking about (I remember her name was Tamara?). (*Idk why but the word Kings just popped into my head when I thought about that place/island. Could be something – could be nothing, idk. lol)
        Good luck finding out, but no, that’s not The Grove.

        Reply

    • My family rented a bungalo in Hoffmans Grove during the early 50’s and going there is a favorite memory of our family. All the things mentioned by lost in Jersey are familiar memories, The railroad tracks ran right behind our house and walking into town with our dime to spend was adventure in itself. Goin to button road and picking up various knobs,plastic objects to build our imaginary vehicles dashboards piloting our craft. Taking our wagon and 6 gallon jugs to the spring to get fresh spring water back to teh house. Swimming and fishing off of low dock was just ashort walk down pebble road, Jumping off the rope swing ot the trestle at black bridge was a passage of youth.I .Our bungalo was named The Seven Blonds as most had a nicknam or name of residents. I could go on,.We have some wonderful 16 mm movies taken during those days.

      Reply

  6. Posted by MikeK on March 11, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    The red shingled house (# 22 above) looks like the house in a YouTube video that was apparently posted by its former owner right after hurricane Irene.

    Reply

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