Hopewell 1965 and Railroad Place

This wonderful view down Railroad Place in Hopewell seems so familiar – with the Chocolate Factory and then J. B. Hill & Sons to the right and the Tomato Factory at the end of the street.

But this photo actually captures a long-lost streetscape, including two buildings that were destroyed by arson, and the railroad trestle that ran diagonally down towards the Chocolate Factory.

Up to now, we only had glimpses of these structures, but now we several views of the area, part of a larger collection of 27 photos that Bob Gantz has kindly shared:

The 1965 Hopewell photos were taken by my Mom and Dad. I remember thinking at the time… why are they taking photos… we all know what the place looks like! Well, good thing they did since things change so much.

Between photos like these from people who photographed around the town they loved, and Memorial Day and other event snapshots, we are building a better understanding of the streets and buildings in the area.

== View all the 1965 Hopewell photos in the Image Gallery ==

1965 view down Railroad Place

The Railroad Sidings

Hopewell Sidings [Sanborn 1927]

As discussed in earlier posts, there were two railroad sidings that ran diagonally from near the Hopewell train station (see earlier Railroad Sidings post).

The westward siding ran past the Farmers Co-op Association (FCA) building and a J. B. Hill Grain & Feed building until it ended in a elevated coal trestle near the front of the Tomato Factory, which was used to deliver coal for J. B. Hill.

The FCA opened the Hopewell building in 1948, which then was closed around 1970. The building was destroyed by an arson fire in 1991, but was later rebuilt in place with a very similar design, which is now the Dance Exposure II building.

Grain & Feed building was in operation by 1912, and also was destroyed by an arson fire in 1977. This site is now used by Firedance Studio.

So the photos from 1965 capture this area as it was in use, in full operation, before the buildings were lost to fire.



The Grain & Feed

On the left, the photo shows the red Grain & Feed building, which by then was used for more general storage by J. B. Hill & Sons.

You can see building supplies stacked around the front loading dock, and several red J. B. Hill trucks.

After the building was burned in 1977, the site remained empty until the current Firedance Studio building was constructed in 2007. (See earlier post on Firedance Studio.)

The J. B. Hill Grain & Feed building (1965 close-up)

The Trestle

Firedance Studio and trestle

Past the Grain & Feed building is the end of the railroad siding, which ends in a raised trestle (since the ground slopes down).

The trestle was used to deliver coal for J. B. Hill & Sons – visible in piles under the trestle. (See earlier post on J. B. Hill & Sons.)

The end support of the railroad trestle still stands as a display area for Firedance Studio. (See earlier post on Firedance Studio.)

The white line running across and above the street is an oil pipe that was used by J. B. Hill to transfer fuel from oil tankers on the trestle to oil tanks on the corner of Railroad Place and Hamilton Avenue.


Railroad trestle and Tomato Factory (1965 close-up)
Original Cannery (1897)

The big smokestack is part of the power plant for the Tomato Canning Factory, which ceased operation in 1951 (see earlier Canning Factory post).

The building was eventually taken over in 1962 Mary Ann and Maurice Browning, who founded the current Tomato Factory Antiques Center.



The Farmer’s Co-Op

The Farmer’s Co-Op Association (FCA) building was in full operation in 1965, and there are several images of it in the collection (see earlier post). The railroad siding ran down the opposite side of the building, and the large loading dock ran the full length of the street side.

FCA building (1965 close-up)

Even though most of this photo collection only has one image of each building, there are multiple images of this lost FCA building, including from the street side. This good fortune may be related to the family of cats that were crossing the street at the time.

FCA building and cats (1965 close-up)

The Collection

These images are part of a collection of 27 photos provided by Bob Gantz that were shot by his parents in 1965.

These also include familiar buildings around town, but with long-gone businesses, including the Lowes Sunoco station, Savings & Loan, Masonic Temple, Casual Shop, Allen’s Flowers, and Rockwell.

== View all the 1965 Hopewell photos in the Image Gallery ==

See also the earlier post on the Industrial Hopewell: Railroad Place presentation for more on these buildings that developed this industrial district along the tracks near the Hopewell train station (including the talk video and slides, and individual briefs).

At the time of the presentation we only had partial views of these buildings. Please keep looking for more images like these that we can share to help illuminate the history of our Hopewell Valley.

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