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Packanack Lake's Spooky Hollywood Connection

Updated: Feb 26

By: Tessa Payer, Museum Specialist at the Wayne Museum and Staff Member of the Passaic County Department of Cultural & Historic Affairs

Wayne Township is made up of several communities and areas, among them Preakness, Mountain View, Pines Lake, and the subject of today's blog post, Packanack Lake!

Figure 1- A view across Packanack Lake, looking towards the clubhouse. From the Wayne Museum.

Like Pines Lake, Packanack Lake is an unincorporated community surrounding a man-made body of water. It was the brainchild of Joseph Castles, who purchased 700 acres of land in Wayne with the dream of creating a model community. By the late 1920s, the acreage was turned over to Packanack Lake Inc., which a manged the construction of a dam, the lake area, roads, a clubhouse, cabins and houses, and other community properties. In Images of America: Wayne Township, Cathy Tobin describes how “beach sand was brought from the New Jersey shore, fish were stocked in the lake, and tennis courts, a bathhouse, and polo grounds were built.”[1] Opening day was held on May 6th, 1928. Initially, the Packanack Lake Country Club and Association had 600 members; today, they advertise about 1500 eligible residences on the property.[2]

A Packanack Lake marketing booklet, likely from the early 1930s, survives in our collection today, and illustrates many of the qualities that first drew residents to the community- and continues attracting people today! Packanack Lake, "where life is a delight", offered "glorious views", "pretty and practical" homes, "plenty of fun all year round", and "folks of the sort you will be glad to meet and fraternize with."