April 2021 Update – Railroad Place

The April updates on the Hopewell Valley History Project site were focused on Railroad Place in Hopewell Borough, in preparation for the upcoming Industrial Hopewell Historical Walking Tour.

By the numbers, we finished the month with 220 files in the Archives, including 97 documents and 123 maps and aerials. The Image Gallery now has 1823 files. The Aerial Panoramas Collection has 21 images for 3 towns. The Pamphlet Collection has 141 files in 7 categories for 3 towns, and the Property Reports Collection has 56 Site Survey reports and 13 Property Briefs. The interactive History Map includes 775 addresses with 102 historic places in Hopewell Borough. Please keep the materials coming!

Industrial Hopewell Historical Walking Tour

The one-hour Industrial Hopewell Historical Walking Tour of Railroad Place in Hopewell will explore the industrial buildings that helped drive the growth of Hopewell after the arrival of the railroads in the 1870s.

Two tours, Saturday May 22 at 11 AM and 2 PM. Sponsored by the Hopewell Public Library and part of Hopewell Valley Heritage Week.

Rose & Chubby’s Luncheonette

The Hopewell institution now known as Aunt Chubby’s Luncheonette, and formerly as Rose and Chubby’s, has a long history as the Corner Store just off the railroad bridge at North Greenwood and Railroad Place.

It was a small confectionery store as early as 1902 featuring candy and cigars. Successive owners added ice cream and some groceries, as well as seasonal products including Christmas toys and fireworks. As the store grew, it added a soda fountain and evolved into a luncheonette. Later versions of the store also offered school supplies and stationary, and magazines and lots of newspapers for commuters.

The FCA and Hopewell Railroad Sidings

The area that we now know along Railroad Place was a busy industrial district crossed by railroad sidings through the mid 1900s – Instead of the current well-defined road and park, the two blocks were one large open flat area with multiple buildings and work areas.

The layout of buildings along this north side of Railroad Place was defined by two diagonal sidings that that connected to the tracks near the train station Freight Shed.

The eastward siding ran diagonally up to the front corner of the Tomato Factory, By 1912, this location was occupied by a J. B. Hill Grain & Feed building, which was eventually destroyed by an arson fire in 1977. A new building for Firedance Studio was then built in 2007.

The westward siding ran diagonally to the front side of the train station. The Farmers Co-op Association (FCA) had a store here from 1948. The building was then used for the Creative Classics hobby craft business, destroyed by arson and rebuilt, and then used for the Decorator’s Consignment Gallery. It is now occupied by Dance Exposure II.

1955 Hopewell Trains and Stations

The site also added some fun images from several contributors.

Jacob Aungst kindly shared images of a Hopewell Dainties sign. The Dainties brand was the flagship product manufactured by the Hopewell Chocolate Company at the old Chocolate Factory from 1909 to 1930

Roger Labaw kindly contributed mid-1950s photos from around historic Hopewell Borough, when he was a teenager exploring the town with a new camera

These include several images of trains and of the Hopewell train station, with two images of B&O trains passing through our area, taken from the Van Dyke Road overpass just west of Hopewell Borough

1913 Hopewell Snow Photos

Roger Labaw also provided photos of Hopewell streets and buildings after a heavy snowstorm in March 1913 that clearly required some hard digging out.

One photo shows a man with a basket walking over the snow banks down East Broad Street, approaching Seminary Avenue, where there is a horse-drawn wagon.

The one-story building is C. N. Allen’s Bakery and Grocery, which opened in 1909, and operated until 1915, when the A&P Tea Company took over the building. And the wagon could be Allen’s delivery wagon – even though there are photos of Allen’s delivery trucks from the some time period, the horses were the answer for travelling in the snow.

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