Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is the Archibald Vroom House?

    You probably have walked by the Archibald-Vroom house millions of times throughout your life, but never really knew what it was, or even noticed it! For one thing, the Vroom House is one of the rare buildings in downtown Ridgewood that has remained stone over the years. The building is located in the center of the Central Business District in Ridgewood. 

160 E. Ridgewood Avenue, located right across from the Daily Treat, has quite a lot of history behind it. In fact, it is one of the villages oldest buildings. The Archibald-Vroom house has served many purposes throughout the years, but is actually housed both the oldest retail store on Ridgewood Avenue and the oldest hospital in the town! The building is so notable, that it has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 24, 1984.

Who is Archibald?

Next time you are walking through town, make sure to stop and take a closer look at the historical registry sign placed in front of the building!

    The person who built the house, back in the very late 1700's, around 1789, went by the name of John M. Archibald. John M. Archibald built the building on a 26 acre farm. This notable building was originally just a house. Although the house was built towards the end of the 1700's, it's believed that the foundation of the building is even older!

Who is Vroom?

    Of the two names this building is named for, Vroom is definitely the more fascinating. He played a very important role in the world of medicine, and he worked right out of his wing in our home town of Ridgewood, NJ. Dr. William Vroom was born on April 1, 1866, and lived to be 100 years old!  He moved to Ridgewood after he finished college in 1888. This year was coincidentally the year that a very large 
 blizzard hit the village, so medical help was of great need!

Dr. William Vroom

    He opened his office on his twenty second birthday--- that would be April 1, 1988. Dr. Vroom was very important, as he created the first hospital in a small wing of the building. It only cost patients 75 cents to come to the office, or 1 dollar for a house visit, where he would trek through the snow to come treat a patient in their home. Despite only having 4 horses, a  pony and pony car for most of his career, Vroom always tried to help the villagers as best as he could.

What Did Vroom Accomplish?

     Besides just being the first to open such a hospital in the village, Vroom excelled at his field. He was not just any doctor. He was named "New Jersey's Outstanding Family Doctor" in 1949.  He was very progressive. He pioneered the use of insulin to treat conditions such as diabetes in Bergen County. He was also  one of the first doctors to use different drugs, such as those used to treat diphtheria and anti-toxins. Another condition he helped treat was Malaria.
    Vroom was a very resourceful, determined man. He always worked to help everyone even if that meant coming up with new, innovative treatments or procedures. He did not have a lot of resources, such as fancy tools or equipment. He had to perform surgeries on kitchen tables! Despite these challenges, he proved himself to be worthy of having such an important historical landmark named after himself.
This is another look at some of the artifacts from Vroom's office.
These are some of Dr. Vroom's tools. As you can see, they were not very advanced, but he got the job done!

"Vrooming" Through the Years

The Archibald-Vroom House started off as a house, then was sold to Peter J. Hopper in the 1830's. Hopper started Ridgewood Avenue's first retail store. Since then, it has housed many different places, such as Marcus Jewelers and a Verizon store. Currently, it is the Tea Tree Spa, as shown in the picture. No matter what is sold within the walls of the Archibald-Vroom house, its historic significance will never be eliminated. Even the stones on the walls are a constant reminder to everyone walking through the village of the rich history that Ridgewood really has.