July 2021 Update – Bricks and Soup

The July updates on the Hopewell Valley History Project site added two new history briefs – on the well-remembered Soupe du Jour restaurant, and the long-forgotten Hopewell brickyard. We also added two collections of images around town from the 1960s and 70s – a set from Bob Gantz showing both familiar buildings and lost streetscapes, and another set from Roger Labaw showing the streets during Memorial Day parades.

By the numbers, we finished the month with 229 files in the Archives, including 104 documents and 125 maps and aerials. The Image Gallery now has 2150 files. The Aerial Panoramas Collection has 23 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 15 Property Briefs. The interactive History Map includes 775 addresses with 102 historic places in Hopewell Borough. Please keep the materials coming!

Remembering Soupe du Jour

The Soupe du Jour restaurant was a beloved Hopewell fixture for 35 years. It was founded at the Tomato Factory Antiques Center in 1972 by Valerie Hartshorne and Frad Young, and moved the following year to 10 East Broad Street at Blackwell Avenue. Patty Phillips then took over the business from 1980 to 2007.

With the help of both of these owners, we were able to outline the chronology of the restaurant and the evolution of its menu and approach – and prices. The post and associated full history brief also include favorite soups, the Toffee Nut Bar recipe, and a wonderful collection of over 40 photos of the restaurants and associated artifacts.

== View the full property brief on Soupe du Jour (PDF) ==

Hopewell Valley Brickyards

The Hopewell Valley is blessed with some wonderful and impressive (and solid) brick buildings. But where did all those bricks came from, especially for construction around 1900, with delivery by horse and wagon?

It turns out that the Hopewell Valley area did have some local brickyards, including near Lambertville and in Hopewell Borough.

The Hopewell brickyard was in operation from 1890 to 1899, located on both sides of what is now Somerset Street, east of the train station. We only know about this through brief mentions in the newspapers – It’s a messy story of three entrepreneurs, two of whom died unexpectedly while in the business.

The story begins in 1890 with Charles Fay and Joseph C.  Prince, who bought the land (which was known to contain clay), and started a brickyard to manufacture fire brick and tile. Unfortunately, Fay died in 1892 of rheumatism contracted while working at the brickyard.

in 1893 the brickyard was started up again by Joseph Prince and Patrick J. Cahill. However, in December 1897 Cahill disappeared mysteriously during a trip to Trenton, and his body later was found in the river.

The property then was acquired in 1901 by the Hopewell Factory and Inducement Company, which began the development of Somerset Street by offering free property on the north side for industrial use (by the tracks), and building lots on the south side for residential housing.

Today, nothing of the brickyard remains on Somerset Street, especially after the massive clean-up and disposal of land and buildings as a result of the Rockwell contamination.

Hopewell 1965 and Railroad Place

Railroad Place in 1965

This wonderful view down Railroad Place in Hopewell in 1965 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.

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.

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 (see the red trucks). The building was in operation by 1912, and was destroyed by an arson fire in 1977. The site then remained empty until 2007, when the current Firedance Studio building was constructed.

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. The full trestle is lost, but the end support of the railroad trestle still stands as a display area for Firedance Studio. (The Pennington trestle is still standing near the train station.)

FCA Building

Another photo shows the Farmers Co-op Association (FCA) building in operation. The FCA opened the Hopewell building in 1948, and then 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.

Until this photo collection, we had no clear images of the FCA building (only partial views in the background of other photos), and no images of the Grain & Feed building.

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

Hopewell Memorial Day Parades – 1960s & 70s

For more images of Hopewell in the past, we have a selection of 42 new images contributed by Roger Labaw of Hopewell Memorial Day parades from 1961 to 1978. These show the crowds and marchers and buildings on various streets along the parade route.

These include images from all over town, along the long and windy parade route:

  • The legion and rider on horseback leading the parade over the railroad bridge on North Greenwood Avenue
  • Hopewell Fire Department trucks at Princeton Avenue
  • Fire trucks and ambulance on West Broad Street
  • Veterans in front of the Hopewell Elementary School
  • The reviewing stand at East Broad and North Greenwood
  • The Legion marching with their giant flag on West Broad Street near Van Dyke Road

See the Hopewell Memorial Day album in the Image Galley for these and over 140 images of parades from the 1950s to 2000s.

== View all the new 1960s-70s Hopewell Memorial Day Images ==

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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