Oradell's Long Lost and Forgotten Hotel
A Journey into Oradell
Today it is Oradell’s town square. In an earlier time, it was the center of town. There, at what is now Schirra Park, once stood the Hotel Delford.
Like many communities along the Hackensack River Valley, Oradell’s initial growth can be attributed to its connection with the river and the railroad.
As the railroad came to communities, hotels would be built near the depots – many structures of the Victorian era.
The Hotel Delford was one such establishment. It was built by Isaac D. Demarest, and over the years was also known as “Wortendyke’s-Westervelts-Kaplans”.
Resembling the great resorts of the time in Saratoga and White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Oradell’s hotel was a draw for its proximity to the train and its access to recreational activities along the river
In fact, Oradell was considered a summer resort destination. Families came from New York and Newark to enjoy boating, swimming, fishing and picnicking in and near the pristine Hackensack.
Moreover, the hotel enjoyed a strong reputation as a wholesome and comfortable place. It was also renowned for its food.
A vintage photo shows smiling faces on the hotel’s porch, which faced westward towards what is now Kinderkamack Road. That picture also reveals that the hotel drew folks to its bar – part of the hotel’s front sign also includes a product promotion for the William Peter Brewing Company of Union City, whose brew was presumably prominent in the tap room.
This all changed in the early 1900’s. At that time, the Hackensack Water Company bought up lands to the north, damned the river and built a reservoir.
These actions virtually closed the river to recreation. Needless to say, this ended the appeal of the Hotel Delford to summer visitors.
By 1925, the Borough bought the property for park purposes, and it was a few years later that the old building (dating back to the 1870’s) came down.
Bricks and timber from the hotel were used to construct buildings in a work area for the borough.
The site eventually became the present day park, and remains a favorite place to subsequent generations.
Though remnants of its earlier life are no where to be seen, the spot remains a physical and emotional center of town.
This piece was first written for inclusion in River Dell Patch - where it appeared in March, 2011.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Source Materials - Biography of A Borough: Oradell (1969), by Irving Crump; Oradell Centennial; 1894-1994…And, a special thank you to Borough Archivist, George Carter for his ear, his support generally and in particular his help in securing historic pictures from the Borough/Library Collection.