Ghostly dare spurred Onderdonk break-ins

— Nathan Duke

Several children from the neighborhood broke into the museum, at 18-20 Flushing Ave. in Ridgewood, two or three times in early July, but nothing was stolen or broken, said Arthur Kirmss, the house's artist in residence and curator.

The children, caught by police and given a warning, were searching for ghosts after they had been led to believe that the building was haunted, Kirmss said.

“They did it on a dare, but nothing was damaged,” he said. “There was a rumor brewing that the house is haunted. I happen to know there's no malevolent ghosts here.”

Kirmss said the youths climbed up a scaffold and went through a window when they entered the house, but left through the front door. No incidents of break-ins have been reported at the house since, he said.

The house, operated by the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society, was first built in 1709 by Paulus Vander Ende and was taken over by Adrian Onderdonk in 1820. Onderdonk built a small frame addition to the house.

The house was nearly destroyed in a 1975 fire, but community activists later raised money to restore it. In 1977, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a city landmark in 1996.