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A Little history on the property that is now known as the Habernickel Family Park


A Little history on the property that is now known as the Habernickel Family Park

My name is Richard Huffman and I am writing to give a little history on the property that is now known as the Habernickel Family Park. I lived on the farm from 1950 until 1977.

My dad, Arthur C. Huffman, bought it in disrepair from a doctor who had previously bought it years before to become a recuperative home for his sickly child who suffered from breathing problems. The doctor spent a huge amount of money and time planting many of the beautiful trees that now grace the property, hoping that they would help his child,s breathing problems, but, unfortunately, the child died before the project was completed, We named the property Sweetbriar Farms. My dad founded Huffman & Boyle Furniture (later Huffman-Koos) and was a prominent member of the community.

Over the years, the farm was always open to the public. Ice skating on the pond all winter, fishing in the summer, Boy Scout camp outs in the lower fields, and hiking through the woods. The Kuiphers (Habernickel) family bought the farm part of the the property from my dad in the late 1970s and, in 1986, bought the last 2 acres where our house was located after my father had passed away.

I am surprised that the that the town chose to name the park after the prior owners since, at $7.4 million, it was in no way a charitable donation by the Habernickel family. They made a very handsome profit on the sale to the town. A more appropriate name for the park would have been Hillcrest Park.


25 thoughts on “A Little history on the property that is now known as the Habernickel Family Park

  1. How about lava lamp park?

  2. Totally agree with the above statement which is something i have always said.

  3. A lot of big ego’s in this community.

  4. I’m sorry, HUGE ego’s.

  5. I agree. Hillcrest Park. The land was not donated, we all paid top dollar for it. It should have been sold to a developer, and that person never would have named it after Habernickels.

    My family always called it the horse farm (and that is a generous description). We did not know the owner’s name.

  6. Does the park really have an official name? I think that the Parks Dept should name it something “neurtal”. We do not owe anything to the previous owners.

    How about “Overburdened Taxpayer Park”.

  7. Thanks for the post. Lets rename it Hillcrest park ASAP

  8. Hillcrest Park is a fitting name

  9. According to the son at the grand opening she gave the village a deal when she sold it to them.

    1. They sold it. Everyone thinks that their property is worth more. The buildings were way past due for routine maintenance.

      It was bought with taxpayer money and should be named for the town not the people on one end of a real estate transaction.

  10. Gwenn Park

  11. yes so true , what a bad move for the name , not right. this needs to be fixed and it will.
    thank you the one that knows.

  12. That property should not have been purchased at all , but the town didn’t want mt laurel housing units in that neighborhood

  13. I was born and raised in Ridgewood and we ALWAYS called it Huffmans horse farm. Would love to hear more about the farm, very nice article.

  14. I remember Mr. Huffman, your father. We would wait for him to post the sign that allowed us to skate. Then we would skate most afternoons and all weekend, until he said we could no longer skate. In the summer we would catch tadpoles in the creek leading into the pond and sun fish in the pond. We came to the house one time and rang his doorbell asking if we could see the horses in his stables. Unfortunately our Norwegian Elkhound would get out of the house sometimes and run down to herd the horses, thinking that they were elks. He would kindly call our mother. He would come down to the pond and would smile at us. And we knew that he was being good to us. I think of him even now as a fond part of my childhood and will always think of it as Huffman’s Farm. Thank you to him and to your family.

  15. We always called it Huffman’s pond. I’m from Midland Park. We’d cut through Lyle Garcia’s yard to Monroe St to get there.So many memories there. This was mid to late 60’s. There was a horse named Copernicus there. We would bring him apples to eat. Mostly we went along the fence on the left hand side and went down to the small creek, sometimes catching crawfish. Then further on there was the cattle bridge which led to a few acres of woods. There was an old house back there and it was near the RR tracks and there would be hobos camping out. Further on across the tracks was the Hermitage Eventually they cleared it out and put a sewer plant there. Now if you didn’t go across the bridge you could go to the right and get to the dam. There were two routes. Angels path, on the top or Devils path in the middle of the drop off. We always took Devil,s path. Crossing the dam was always fun and I remember we brought a gallon of gas in a glass milk bottle and had my brother Bobby light it up and drop it into the valve housing thing. Man the flames shot up about 15 feet! Further down the creek was a sewer pipe about 4′ in diameter that went up to the street in HoHoKus. We would climb up in there with cardboard and slide down. Later we figured out a plastic garbage can cut lengthwise was an even faster ride. Lot’s of other fun there……

  16. I grew up in Ridgewood in the 60s. The Huffman family was extremely good to everyone. They let people all over their property. There were many occasions of 100 people skating at a time. I remember them welcoming us into their house for hot chocolate. In summer we would fish, catch tadpoles, race our friends dog across the fields (never came close to winning). But my point is a serious one. The Huffmans were outstanding citizens. They shared generously with everyone ALL THE TIME. They didn’t have to know you. If ever their was a family deserving recognition for the community contributions it was the Huffmans.

  17. True and accurate story by Rich.

  18. I am sitting in the park today and reading these wonderful stories about the Huffman’s and their genoursity to the community. I see many examples in the community today – but not nearly enough. Thanks

  19. I worked on that farm when it was sold and yes she gave the town a good amount off .and I would think by law you are not allowed to change the name of it . And you all should not forget long before it became a park ms. Habernickel allowed the people of Ridgewood to enjoy her farm . Children played on her property and she left carrots out for the children to feed the horses .

  20. One more thing for those of you that think she didn’t give back to community. That farm was value was well over 9 million a builder was going to purchase it . So before you assume know the facts .

  21. I grew up in Midland Park in the 60s near the Ridgewood border. We called the property Huffman’s Pond. Great place to go. We’d pet the horses and then snake our way down to the “river” more of a creek really. We went along Devil’s Path which was a tad scarey when you were a kid and then we’d come out by a body of water and a dam. I saw an earlier post that reminded me that if you crossed the dam you could come out by the railroad tracks in Waldwick.. It was a lot of fun.

  22. I grew up in Midland Park and lived in what they called the ‘estates’ tons of kids would cut thru the yards and woods behind Spruce St, to go skating on Huffman’s Pond. I recall bringing a huge thermos of hot tea and being the most of the day back in the mid to late 50’s. Great fun, great memories, Is there still a pong there that freezes over?

  23. I think my son Jed’Peter Needle’s wife Lynn Lesniack whose family is from that part of New Jersey (a place called Love Ladies comes to mind for some reason)
    Its the kind of genealogy I expect would appeal to them all

  24. Agree with Steve Elgin’s comment. We were neighbors in the Zamore development and used to cut through the Elgin’s or Anderson’s yard to access Huffman’s pond for ice skating and fishing in the 1950s.

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