The Ho-Ho-Kus Inn is a landmark in the town where I grew up.
The Inn is located at the intersection of Sheridan Avenue, Franklin Turnpike, and Maple Avenue.
Anyone who grew up in Ho-Ho-Kus would have driven (or been driven) by the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn thousands of times.
The Inn’s official website says the name Ho-Ho-Kus comes from a Delaware Native American term meaning ‘red cedar’. I was taught it was a name from the local Lenni Lenape tribe. Like everyone else from here, I’ve spent a lifetime spelling and explaining it to people who can’t believe there’s really a place named Ho-Ho-Kus.
The Ho-Ho-Kus Inn’s major claim to fame is that George Washington slept there during the Revolutionary War, a common claim for historic buildings in this area. We didn’t have any class visits to it, though, as it was never open as an historic site. I didn’t set foot inside the Inn until I was an adult and it had become a French restaurant.
During that time, the Inn was Claude’s Ho-Ho-Kus Inn. My mother and her friends were amused by the name change. It seemed incongruous to have a fancy restaurant called Claude’s in little old downtown Ho-Ho-Kus. The restaurant did well with Monsieur Claude at the helm but since then has changed hands several times.
When my mother turned seventy, I organised a luncheon with her many long-time friends in one of the Inn’s upstairs dining rooms. Her ladies’ bridge clubs sometimes had their annual fund-raising events at the Inn.
I always found the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn a bit too pretentious and formal for my taste. My mother liked to go there once in a while for special occasions.
In 2006, the year Clive and I travelled to the U.S. and England to meet each other’s family and friends, Mom marked the occasion by taking us to dinner at the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn. It was a wonderful evening, three years after the death of my husband. Mom said she was happy to see me smiling. Clive was his usual charming self. I felt that sense of peace and gratitude you get when you’re spending time with people you love and feeling life is good.
According to the Inn’s website, it’s currently closed for renovations until Spring 2009. Today it’s surrounded by cars instead of horse-drawn carriages, but the building itself still looks much the same as I imagine it did when George Washington slept there.