“Welcome to Hopewell Borough” – Have you noticed these signs as you drive into town? There are actually five signs, installed in 2014 on each of the entry points into Hopewell – from the four compass points (East and West Broad, North Greenwood, and (south) Princeton Ave.), plus the bonus diagonal from Louellen.
The Welcome signs were created by artist François Guillemin, also known as le Corbeau (the crow in French), who moved his business, Firedance Studio, from Princeton to Hopewell in 2007 and built the current building at 56 Railroad Place.
The signs feature two iconic structures in the borough: the train station on Railroad Place off North Greenwood, and the gazebo in Hopewell Borough Park at East Prospect off South Greenwood. The signs are painted steel, so they are durable and still look great after seven-some years.
Firedance Studio and le Corbeau’s Artwork
Firedance Studio does custom artistic and ornamental metalwork. Visit the website for examples of their fabrications, including doors, windows, gates, railings, and furniture.
In addition, the front section of the Firedance building is a gallery showroom displaying le Corbeau’s artwork, including sculpture, jewelry, furniture and lighting. (The gallery is open to the public, but it’s best to call ahead for a visit.) See the website for more of his designs, and see some of his latest work on Instagram at @lecorbeau1.
The outside of the building also hosts several examples of le Corbeau’s work, plus other works – the “guard dog” at the entrance by Dana Stewart, and “Forever Marilyn” by Seward Johnson to the right of the building.
Then at the foot of the driveway, near the Tomato Factory, is an additional display space made from old stone. This structure actually is the end of a railroad coal trestle that once served J. B. Hill & Sons across the street.
When Guillemin arrived in 2007, the railroad trestle still ran diagonally across the property, with fourteen of these pillars. He preserved these last three pillars – along with the original train rails that are still visible under the added roof.
In addition, Guillemin reused the stone from the rest of the trestle pillars for the stonework along the base of the gallery and the front of the building.
As a result of his work on the site and the building, Guillemin kindly has preserved a sense of the history of the site, which originally was a hay press around 1900, and then a Grain & Feed building for J. B. Hill from c1912 until it was destroyed by arson in 1977.
- See the earlier post for more on the Grain & Feed and other buildings along the railroad sidings.
Thanks to François Guillemin and Rosemary Morrow of Firedance Studio for information and support on this research. Hopewell sign photo by François Guillemin.