The John C. Storms Museum at Leach Chapel and Ellen Berdais Hall together make up the headquarters of the Pascack Historical Society at 19 Ridge Avenue, Park Ridge, New Jersey.
The Society began as a small group of local residents led by John C. Storms (1869-1962) who, with his brother James, had amassed a large collection of historical items of every nature. From 1938, they met over a period of many months discussing the area’s history and making plans for its permanent preservation. It was on October 13, 1942, that the Certificate of Incorporation was signed and executed. (By its charter, it will always remain a free-admission museum, where everyone is welcome.)
The Society found its permanent home at 19 Ridge Avenue in 1952, in a former chapel that itself is a historic landmark. Opened in 1873, our museum building was once the First Congregational Church of Park Ridge. One of its primary functions was being a Sunday School. Inside the chapel, a large wooden bookcase held 200 volumes and served as the first circulating library in the area. We still have that bookcase, as well as the original church organ—a gift from the famous preacher Rev. Henry Ward Beecher who delivered the sermon at the church’s opening.
Today the Pascack Historical Society is run by an all-volunteer board of trustees. Spanning multiple generations and from varied backgrounds, our trustees are united under a common mission of “preserving the past for the future.” We open to the public every Wednesday and Sunday, and docents are available to guide visitors. However, you will find that the Pascack Historical Society is much more than a museum: we host lectures on a variety of history topics, hold education programs for kids, field the community’s local history queries, and take on research projects to continue uncovering the Pascack Valley’s story. We hope you will come visit us soon.