10/1/2018 0 Comments
A retired fire chief, a used-book store owner, a celebrated civil rights activist, a former mayor and a chamber of commerce president. A cross-section of community leaders has turned their love of the township into a common cause – the establishment of the Teaneck Historical Society.
The members of this new non-profit aren’t just history buffs looking to get-together once a month and trade stories. They want this venture to give birth to exhibits, lecture series or other types of history programs that attract both young and old. Recently, the Historical Society persuaded Teaneck freelance writer Jay Levin, who specializes in historical pieces, to write a book about the township, similar to the ones that Arcadia Press has already published about other towns in New Jersey.
“We want to respect the history and learn from the history,” said Robert Montgomery, a lifelong Teaneck resident and retired fire chief who is serving as the society’s president.
Without careful stewards to preserve it, history can be too quickly forgotten, Montgomery said. “Things start to fade from memory after 30 or 40 years,” he said. “We want to be able to tell people what the township was like before they got here. Knowing your town’s history helps you feel more of a bond to it.”
Age-Friendly Teaneck was instrumental in the historical society’s founding in April 2017, viewing its creation as part of its mission to promote social and civic connections between young and old residents.
Leaders believe young people are often interested in knowing more about where they live. But what’s been missing in Teaneck is a communal effort to study and share Teaneck’s history.
The society plans to collaborate with Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck Public Library, the township-appointed Historic Preservation Commission and local schools. Over the years, Montgomery has assembled an assortment of fire department memorabilia, and he would like to see a permanent public exhibit space for some of those items as well as an antique fire vehicle Teaneck owns.
The specifics of future events are still taking shape but Montgomery wants to do more than just teach about William Walter Phelps, Gen. Thomas Van Buren and other prominent early residents of Teaneck.
“Prominent figures get streets and parks named after them but people who have lived here and built their lives and paid their taxes don’t often get acknowledged,” said Montgomery, adding that he hopes the society can also highlight the “ton of other people who were just as dedicated to the town.”
Who We Are
Age-Friendly Teaneck formed in 2016 with this mission in mind: A great place to grow up should be a great place to grow old.