January 2021 Update – Hopewell Landmarks

The January updates on the Hopewell Valley History Project site included explorations of several historic Hopewell landmarks, through newly-contributed family photos and the History Project collections. There are also some new enhancements to the site, included extended Image Galleries, built-in Pan/Zoom for exploring images in the History Map, and a new Property Report viewer for information on specific properties. Plus a secret bonus experimental feature in the History Map.

By the numbers, we finished the month with 184 files in the Archives, including 80 documents and 104 maps and aerials. The Image Gallery now has 1761 files with new snapshots. The new Property Reports collection has 56 Site Survey reports and 9 Property Briefs. The Pamphlet Collection has 138 files in 7 categories for 3 towns. The interactive History Map includes 775 addresses with 102 historic places in Hopewell Borough. Please keep the materials coming!

Family Photos and Memorial Day Parades

New Memorial Day Parade photos courtesy of Peter Gantz provided more behind-the-scenes views from 1960, 1961, 1967, and 2005.

Snapshots in different directions from Lafayette and Blackwell Streets illustrate the development of the Methodist Church grounds, and show glimpses of the Chocolate Factory and Farm Co-Op buildings on Railroad Place.

Additional family photos from Alantha Carter provide views of buildings along Blackwell Avenue in the 1960s and 1970s, and Memorial Day Parades in 1969 and 1972 on East Broad Street.

Jeff McCandless also contributed a variety of images of Hopewell from the 1930s into the 1960s, including the Weart Store, Hart Avenue baseball field, school classes, and Memorial Day.

Image Gallery Albums

In order to accommodate the growth in contributed family photos of historic interest, the Image Gallery was updated to add new snapshot albums.

The HwBoro album still contains the primary images focused on properties, organized by address and date (as also displayed in the Hopewell History Map). The new HwBoro-Snapshots sub-album then contains selected family snapshots that also show these properties (also by address and date), but more in the background and from different angles.

The HwBoro-Town album then contains images of events around town (i.e. not associated with one specific property), organized by date and the event (graduation, snowstorms, etc.). And the HwBoro-Memorial-Parade sub-album contains images of Memorial Day activities and events, organized by year and contributor/collection. It also includes document files describing the collections from each contributor.

Hopewell Carnival 1939

The fascinating Hopewell Carnival 1939 Snowman image courtesy of Bill Frenchu provided the opportunity to explore the story of Firemen’s Carnivals in Hopewell Borough, and to analyze the location of the photo and the view north from Hopewell in the background – with railroad tracks, roads, a couple early houses, and the farm on the hill.

These carnivals were run by the Hopewell Fire Department starting in 1911 through the mid 1950s, and then by the American Legion around the 1960s and 1970s. Later the Business Association organized Community Day in the 1980s, which was succeeded by the current Hopewell Harvest Fair.

The theme for the 1939 “Hopewell Firemen’s Ice Carnival,” held in July and August, was this “mammoth nine-foot tall snow man … covered in sparking snow” that greeted carnival guests.

The Iconic Hopewell Chocolate Factory

The saga of the Chocolate Factory in Hopewell is even more interesting than we have heard. This iconic brick building on Railroad Place has been a shirt factory, *three* different candy factories – and the home of the Fraley Electric Thermo Vibra Company (view on the History Map).

The story also is a testament to the determination of the business leaders of Hopewell, who made significant investments to fund and promote the growth of the town. Even today, you can still faintly see part of the Chocolate Company sign painted on the end of the building.

The Confusing Hopewell Firehouse

The current Hopewell Firehouse and former Borough Hall on the corner of Columbia Avenue and South Greenwood Avenue could be the most confusing building in the Borough (view on the History Map).

These three images are actually the same building – The tall three-story High School built in 1910, the squat two-story Borough Hall renovated in 1940 with two fire engine garages, and then the spread-out Fire Department building that we know today.

But why and when the building lost its third story is still a mystery. Some people have heard that there was a fire, but we have no record of a fire, and no documentation of renovations to remove the third floor.

History Map – Pan & Zoom

The Hopewell History Map has been updated to make it easier to have fun interactively exploring local properties by panning and zooming in the images, including enlarging them to full size.

You can directly pan/zoom into the images to see details – Just use the usual mouse actions on computers, and touch movements on mobile screens.

As a secret bonus, the History Map now also displays an approximation of the route of the long-departed Mercer and Somerset railroad through the Hopewell area. Use the Options dialog to show the M&S Route, to view markers for stations and waypoints along the route, connected by straight red lines (which are NOT the actual route). Click the markers for more information on each point. This is an experimental work in progress, comments welcome.

Property Reports

The new Property Report viewer with two sets of documentation on historic properties: Hopewell area Cultural Resource Survey documentation, and Historic Property Briefs documented using research by the History Project.

The Site Surveys cover 56 Hopewell Borough properties, and also can be accessed from the Hopewell History Map when you select a property.

The historic Property Briefs are new reports on local properties documented using research from the History Project.

See the About the Property Reports for more information.

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