Snowy Day in Hopewell in the 1910s at Blackwell & Railroad

Here’s another photo of a snowy day in Hopewell from the 1910s, courtesy of Bob Gantz (see previous post). In this 1910s image, the two ladies are standing near the end of Blackwell Avenue up from the corner with Railroad Place, across the street from the train station.

What’s interesting is the difference from today’s streetscape – the lot across the street was empty in the photo, and then had some small buildings further back that are now gone. Yet behind is a structure that is still familiar to us today, with the distinctive squat pyramidal cupola (19-23 Railroad).

Blackwell looking up Railroad

Bob Gantz had done a wonderful job of elaborating the story of this corner using family photos, since his family’s house is across the street, and over the years they conveniently took pictures standing in their front yard.

The saga includes some forgotten and some still-remembered names, including Andy Wyckoff’s Meat Market, the Hopewell Post Office, Carballal’s, Selmar’s, and Mollica’s luncheonettes and ice cream stores, Angeline’s Clothing, and even Hopewell Auto Parts.

For a start, the 1910s snowy photo actually shows two buildings that are set back from the corner and before the cupola building – a narrow single-story building, plus a second narrow building behind with a taller roof.

Andy Wyckoff’s Meat Market, now 25-31 Railroad

This matches the next rare Gantz photo, showing the front of the first building from circa 1920 (now 25-31 Railroad). This was Andy Wyckoff’s Meat Market, with the distinctive front overhang and back sloping extension as in the 1910s snowy photo. Bob Gantz reports that the gentleman sitting on the box in front of the window is his great grandfather, Joseph Pierson, who “probably spent many a day over there shooting the bull.”

Then there is the then-empty corner lot in the 1910s snowy photo, now the home of Art Sparks (33 Railroad). But that building is confusing, since it has been renovated over the years so that it now looks like two different buildings, with a one-story front facing Railroad Place (with Art Sparks), and a two-story back second half that was originally the post office with its entrance on Blackwell, and now has residences facing Cook Place on the other side.

Original look of 33 Railroad on Blackwell side

The other Gantz photo is a circa 1959 photo of the family and Pontiac, which conveniently shows the original design of the corner building in the background (plus the train station in the distance).

This building was built to house the Hopewell Post Office, which occupied the back half of the building, with the entrance on Blackwell to the right of two long horizontal windows. The front half of the building has a Breyers ice cream sign (with the distinctive green leaf) above the corner entrance on Railroad.

With the help of more photos and the Hopewell Herald newspaper archives, we can outline the history of the building, and how each half was used over the years.

Aerial from 2020 of corner of Railroad Place and Blackwell Avenue. Along Railroad from the corner (left to right) – one-story #38, flat-top #25-31, and #19-23 with cupola.

The building was built by 1947. The one-story front was the home of Carballal’s Luncheonette / Grocery Store, which opened in December 1947.

The Hopewell Post Office also was scheduled to move in that December, but was delayed until January 1949 because it needed a “special safe.” The Post Office moved from the old National Bank building (the current Hopewell Public Library), where it had been since 1915.

Jose Carballal previously ran the Italian-American Grocery Store next door (25 Railroad) through the 1940s (“We sell Breyer’s Ice Cream to take out”), and also operated a taxi service from there. The Carballals then occupied the second floor apartment above the back half of the new building, and apparently owned the entire building (it was called the Carballal Building in 1950).

The front became Selmar’s Luncheonette and pizza store through the early 1950’s, and then became Mollica’s ice cream store, run by Don & Angie Mollica though the mid 1960s. As remembered by Bob Gantz:

The east side had two full length marble counters with round stools, all the beautiful stainless store fixtures for ice cream, soda, and other cold items, and on the south side behind the other counter was where they cooked food such as hamburgers, etc. The west and north sides of the room were lined with “booths” and built in tables for people to sit in. Each booth had a “miniature” jukebox that was hooked up to the main large jukebox on the floor. It was a booming place for kids. They also had two pinball machines back in the south west corner.

The Post Office moved out around 1958 to its current location at 9 South Greenwood. By 1959, the first floor of the back half of the building was Angeline’s Clothing, a children’s clothing store run by Angie Mollica.

By 1966, the first floor was converted to apartments, but the front corner still had the Breyers ice cream sign. Then by 1968 the front corner became Hopewell Auto Parts, before the business moved back to 11-13 Seminary Avenue in the 1970s. (Around that time, the entire exterior also was redecorated in a “Tudor” style, white with brown cross-beams.)

Current 33 Railroad, at corner of Blackwell

The current-day photo then shows the current building after further renovations. The front corner is Art Sparks, now looking like a separate building, and with an angled door, changed in the mid 1970s. Sometime after 1977, the door facing Blackwell on the back was closed up, and all the windows were changed to standard double-hung, resulting in the building that we now know.

This summary has been assembled from family photos and multiple discussions with local residents. Your additions of memories and photos are most welcome!

1 thought on “Snowy Day in Hopewell in the 1910s at Blackwell & Railroad

  1. Frank Mahood

    I have lived on Seminary Avenue since 1976, and it was the Hopewell Inn that was covered in clapboard at the time. Soon after my arrival, the exterior of the Inn was covered with white stucco with the brown cross-beams. The auto-parts store facing on Seminary remained as it was.

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