About the Sparta Historical Society
The Sparta Historical Society was founded in 2002, and soon leased a meeting place, the 1790 Van Kirk homestead, a residence on a former dairy farm. The house was dedicated in 2007 as a historic Sparta property and opened for tours with furnishings on loan from the community. scouts, veterans, students, Civil War re-enactors and residents all participated in activities at the house. In November 2013, the Van Kirk Homestead, along with 3+ acres, was deeded to the Society. Volunteer efforts began in June 2014, when the house began to be transformed into a museum and reopened to the public in September 2014.
This museum is a work in progress. You will find new developments every time you visit. In 2017 we will open a restored carriage barn featuring a 1913 Model T and other related artifacts, and there are plans to restore the basement and its original early 1800s cooking oven. The The Changing Exhibition Gallery will feature special exhibits
About the Van Kirk's
The Van Kirk's, early Sparta settlers of the 1790’s, acquired 45 acres and continuously owned the property, passing it from generation to generation for over 200 years. Family members were dairy farmers, teachers, soldiers, and held local and county government positions. Some played a role in early tourism by taking in summer boarders. From the 1920’s-1940’s, John and Jim Van Kirk operated the Mohawk Dairy. The property was purchased by the board of education in 1996.
What you will see
The Van Kirk Homestead is the only historic house and museum in Sussex County with the luxury of having period rooms in the older sections, themed galleries in newer areas and a major changing exhibition gallery. This gallery features specially curated exhibitions from other museums and private collections that address the historic and cultural changes witnessed by the Van Kirk's and our country over the past 230 years. Displays depict early farm life and the area’s agricultural history, as well as its transition to mining of iron, limestone and zinc, and the advent of tourism in Sparta.
Sparta’s History Gallery
The room documents various eras of Sparta’s history from Native American habitation through the early settlers, development of early businesses including farming, mining, forges, and the arrival of train lines that ultimately led to the Town’s transformation as a resort and lake community.
An 8 x 12 foot miniature farm scene hand-crafted in the 1920’s and 30’s by the Wilhelm and Frey families is the focal point of this gallery also containing early implements and tools used on such a farm.
The older sections of the house contain several period rooms. A Victorian Parlor features period as well as original furniture and artifacts from the Van Kirk family. A Civil War bedroom houses a
walnut bed found in a barn near Gettysburg as well as other artifacts from the 1860s and an adjacent children’s room contains period toys and clothing from the early 1900s. Both rooms feature floor boards up to 22 inches wide.
Sparta’s Mining History
This gallery contains artifacts from the iron, limestone and zinc mining roots of Sparta including
Thomas Edison’s time clock used on Sparta Mountain until 1899. There is also a display of fluorescent minerals from the world-famous deposits in Ogdensburg’s Sterling Mine, a part of Sparta until 1914.
General: Open every second and fourth Sunday from mid-April to early December, 1-4 pm.
Groups: Reservations with a talk may be arranged by calling 973-726-0883.
Location: Van Kirk Homestead Museum, 336 Main Street (Route 517, use Sparta Middle School Driveway) Sparta, NJ.
Mail: P. O. Box 312, Sparta, NJ 07871