Vreeland Store Harvest Festival is on Sept. 24

Historic Vreeland Store's owners to celebrate with festival


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  • Pictured at the opening of the Vreeland Store in 2013 are: Carol Salem Norman, Ceilia Weeden Salem, Mayor Bettina Bieri and Lanza family members Vanessa, Charissa, Fran and Vincent Lanza. On Sunday, Sept. 24, the Lanzas are holding a “Harvest Festival” at the store. PHOTO BY ANN GENADER



BY ANN GENADER

It has been four years ago that the Lanza family opened their restaurant/inn at the Vreeland Store at 1383 Macopin Road. This local family has a lot to celebrating to do – and that’s what they will be doing at their annual “Harvest Festival” on Sept. 24.

Artisan vendors will be present along with live music. There will be face painting, a bonfire and fun for the whole family, promise the Lanzas.

When the restaurant and inn at the historic Vreeland Store opened in 2013, Ceilia Weeden Salem, daughter of Arthur Freeland and niece of Relda Vreeland came to the event from Pinckney, Michigan where she now lives. With her was her daughter Carol Salem Norman.

They stayed at the inn in a bedroom and suite that had been occupied by their Vreeland ancestors. Celia is in her advanced senior years and the trip down to West Milford from Michigan is a bit much for her now – but on Sept. 24 she and Carol will be at the Vreeland the store in spirit mentally reliving their memories of the Lanzas’ grand opening in 2013.

The Vreeland store was a popular place back as far as 1860. Owner of the business place that continued to flourish in 1930 was Charles Wesley Vreeland.

Back in the day this was a place where people could buy anything from their food supply to clothing.

This section of New Jersey was farm country then. Men usually only needed a suit of clothes for Sunday church services, weddings and funerals. When they did need a new suit they had their measurements taken at the Vreeland store and the Vreelands send in a mail order for the clothing to be sent to the store. Incidentally the building was housed a Post Office at that time.

This area of what is now part of the Township of West Milford - ”Macopin” – was also the location for some early municipal meetings and originally the hub of the township, late family member Fred Vreeland said.

People visiting the site can observe what one of the many self contained villages in the township was like. Near the store and still functioning with an active congregation and regular services is the Echo Lake Baptist Church. Next to it is the pastor’s home.

The rural Macopin school was located a short way down Westbrook Road – in the area where a township road depot is located now. The school was burned down in the 1940s – according to historians - by an angry student.

A Vernon resident agreed to buy the property and its contents from the Vreeland Estate in 1995. The artifacts included ledgers dating back to 1872, a New York Times newspaper edition with a Civil War headline, antique dressers and bedroom sets dating back to the 1800s.

The deal did not go through and the Vreeland family held the mortgage. After the property went into foreclosure Vincent Lanza of West Milford bought it – along with the Vreeland artifacts. These historical treasures are displayed and interested historians and others can see them when visiting Vreeland Store.

It was not easy getting the business open. Vincent Lanza went before various township and county boards and the Highlands Council for 10 years. Weary but determined he finally succeeded in having his project considered. It was approved under the existing adaptive reuse ordnance.

This approval allows use of the building for a country store, country inn, Bed and Breakfast or an antique store. The Lanzas chose to operate as a country store and inn which allows the restaurant use as well.

Frances Lanza and her daughters are operating the restaurant. Both daughters graduated from Our Lady Queen Peace School. Then Charissa Lanza graduated in the West Milford High School Class of 2005 and Vanessa Lanza in the class of 2009. Charissa went to Pratt Institute where she studied fine art and photography and worked at some of the restaurants and cafes in New York City. Vanessa lived in the Caribbean for a couple of years where she worked as a restaurant bartender and cook.

The rooms at the inn for lodging include a sitting room and fold out couch, a bedroom and a bathroom. All are furnished in antiques.

For information contact the Vreeland Store at 973-874-0860, or check the Vreeland store website.

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