The Bergenfield Museum Society receives an award for historic preservation.
Philip DeVencentis/

BERGENFIELD — Tucked not far beyond the north shore of Cooper’s Pond remains the best example of the borough’s bygone era.

Within the wood-frame walls of the Tunis R. Cooper House, built in 1802, is a cache of relics local history buffs have hoarded for years.

How that house became the headquarters of the Bergenfield Museum Society is a story the curators have ensured will stand the test of time, just like their collection of artifacts.

Efforts to rescue the house from ruin and re-purpose it as a museum have been commended by the county Historic Preservation Advisory Board, which gave an education award to the society last month.

“It’s gratifying to have a whole lot of hard work recognized,” said Joanne Thomas, the society’s president.

It took the society almost four decades before it was handed keys to the house. The borough owns the homestead, which was listed on state and national historic registers in 1995.

Barry Doll, the society’s vice president, said the educational value of the museum is “unlimited.” Exhibits have been displayed on the borough’s oldest homes and history of the local school system. “Nostalgia Street” took museum-goers on a trip along memory lane to long-closed downtown shops.

The museum’s current exhibit, called “Technology From the Past,” is a scavenger hunt in which patrons use clues to look for items that were novelties at the time they were invented: “Those luxurious curls needed heat,” for example, leads to a display of electric hair rollers.

Or, want to “float like a bird over Cooper’s Pond?” Strap on a pair of ice skates.

The society’s odyssey began in 1976 when the late Betty Schmelz —…