At the mouth of the Ramapo Valley, Pompton Lake is seen from Terhune Memorial Park in Sunnybank. It is a 9.6-acre patch of pre-Revolutionary oaks that Albert Payson Terhune and his wife, Anice Stockton Terhune, have lovingly cared for (1874-1964). As one strolls around Terhune Memorial Park’s grounds, one can feel the “magic” of Sunny Bank under their feet. The Sunnybank collies and Terhunes are gone, but the grounds still have an Edenic feel about them.
At the Van Riper-Hopper Historic House Museum, visitors may see the literature and collie dog prizes safely exhibited in the Terhune Collection.
Wayne Township Parks and Recreation Department manages the Terhune Memorial Park in Sunnybank.
This area, which was originally included in the Arent Schuyler royal grant from 1695, has a close connection to the whole American Revolutionary heritage. The Van Cortlandt Regiment tented at Sunnybank Meadow during the harsh winter of 1777–1778. a skeleton belonging to a deceased American soldier buried with a captured British officer’s sword with the letters EL carved on the stock was discovered by the Reverend Edward Payson Terhune, who bought the property in the late 1860s. The Pompton Lakes Library has previously had the sword on exhibit. While out for a hike in the surrounding Ramapo hills, little Bert Terhune discovered Hessian chains and rusting cannonballs. You may find these and other items at the Pompton Lakes Historical Museum, which belonged to the Terhune family.
History of Wayne
The centenary celebration of Wayne Township’s founding, which took place at the Casey House on Hamburg Turnpike on April 12, 1847, marked the beginning of the township’s official existence in 1947. The Township Committee, the ruling body, appointed the Historical Committee as a result of the centennial organizing committee’s discovery of a wealth of local factual historical information. The founding members are Dorothy Stults, Helen Zachariasen, S. Hobart Lockett, Rev. Edgar B. Rohrbach, and Ronald Gall.
The Committee continued to operate until Wayne Township switched to a mayor-council system of governance in the early 1960s. A commission that answers to the Department of Parks and Recreation has replaced the Historical Committee.
Discovering and preserving historical materials, working with township authorities to preserve township records and archives, and maintaining historic structures like monuments and markers are the main responsibilities of the Historical Commission.
The Historical Commission learned about Route 23’s impending realignment in the Wayne neighborhood near Fairfield Road in 1966. The historic Mead-Van Duyne House, which is said to have served as a waypoint for Colonial messengers during the American Revolution, will also be lost due to the proposal. The Commission fought to preserve the historic structure for the next nine years by first getting it listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places due to its importance as a piece of New Jersey Dutch colonial architecture. The commission instructed the local government to prepare to move the home to its current location. Numerous objects are discovered during an archaeological excavation at the original location and are now on exhibit in the Archaeological Laboratory on the museum grounds.
The Gardens of the World The ancient Victorian residence was encircled by wisteria and woodbine. By the side of the lake, weeping willow trees are planted by the senior Mrs. Terhune from cuttings that Bert’s mother had brought to Olney, Virginia, in 1693.
The older Mrs. Terhune’s pen name was Marion Harland, and it was she who wrote about naming Sunnybank. She described seeing “a natural expanse of brilliant green grass and a beautiful sunset lake.” She published recipes and books on travel, music, and etiquette. Anice, Bert’s wife, and a gifted musician, created the opera “Nigros.”
All their lives, Bert and Anice are farmers. Chestnuts will be planted to replace the 120 shade trees, Siberian elms, tulip poplars, maple, elm, fruit trees, dogwood, locust, and other trees that the 1903 blight destroyed in Sunnybank. Quail, partridge, and songbirds of every kind inhabited Sunnybank’s lovely forested sections, making the estate genuinely a preserve—in hindsight, an Eden.
The Sunnybank Collies
The Lad spent his days inside the confines of this estate, as did all of the Sunnybank collies who have appeared in about thirty works by Terhune. A thoroughbred “in body and spirit,” Gallant Lad is buried under one of his favorite shady locations close to the driveway. Lad was not a show dog, but when he was 12 years old, he participated in and won a cup in a Fourth of July dog show in Hawthorne.
Bruce was buried over Lad’s tomb in the terraced area where roses formerly flowered profusely. He was a superb specimen. Bruce is buried next to Jean, his beloved friend who was murdered by a negligent driver who ignored the signs asking for privacy. Bruce, “the dog without a flaw,” was a Champion Sunnybank Goldsmith and sired many lovely Sunnybank pups, many of whom are given as Christmas presents by local parents.
A wolf is resting at a rock in the Terhune estate’s woods. The courageous collie perished on the train rails near Pompton Lakes while attempting to rescue a mongrel, as the New York Times noted. The death notice for Wolf was published in newspapers around the country on June 28, 1923.
The tombs of the previous four Sunnybank winners are located around Champion Rock. Guarding Wolf’s tomb are Chs. Sigurd (Treve), Explorer, Thane, and Sigurdson. The plain headstones may be read to reveal other well-known names. There are markers for Bobby, Fair Ellen, Gray Dawn, and a cat named Tippy, fifteen years old. Near the frog and goldfish pond, where Terhune often rested and contemplated the wonders of nature, other Sunnybank collies are resting in this location. He has a few favorites, including Jock, Bobby, Buff, and Sandy.
FACT AND FANCY
Rex qualifies as Sunnybank’s “ghost.” Three guests at Sunnybank saw this intimidating mixed-breed dog guarding the front entrance while they were there; none knew Rex was dead or anyone else had seen him. Before his corpse was discovered on the road, Jack the frog lived in the pond for twenty seasons. Terhune does not forget the other creatures. Cats, birds, squirrels, Fritz the horse, and even a milk cow are among Sunnybank’s Little People.
What is the best place to find out more about the Parks and Recreation Division?
Maintenance of Township parks and street trees, community and special events, child and adult sports leagues, bus excursions, educational programs, and arts and cultural programming are just a few of the services offered by Parks and Recreation. Additionally, the Department oversees the Township’s historic houses, senior transportation services, and tree permit applications.
Is there anything I can do in Wayne for nothing?
Yes, there are many free activities in Wayne! There are 22 parks in Wayne Township, including the free and public Laurelwood Arboretum. Visit their Parks & Recreation Facilities page to discover the facilities at each park. The Township also hosts free and public seasonal special events throughout the year, including the Easter Carnival, Summer Concerts, Fall Frolic, Holiday Tree Lighting, and Menorah Lighting events.
You may phone (973) 694-1800 or visit their website to learn more.