August 2021 Update – Historic Sites

The August updates on the Hopewell Valley History Project site included a new history brief on the forgotten story of Mercer Street – not just the earlier home of the American Legion, but also a major stonecutting operation for the first half of the 1900s. Another post highlighted the registered historic sites of Hopewell Township, as featured on bookmarks created by the Historic Preservation Committee.

A set of new photos from around 1916 courtesy of Bob Gantz helped illustrate a post on Hopewell’s lost liveries, which provided facilities for horses near to the Hopewell House inn and Central Hotel.

And there were several new collections of images, including postcards of Pennington and trade cards from Gandy’s Drug Store.

By the numbers, we finished the month with 233 files in the Archives, including 105 documents and 128 maps and aerials. The Image Gallery now has 2194 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 76 files, with 58 Site Survey reports and 18 Property Briefs. The interactive History Map includes 775 addresses with 102 historic places in Hopewell Borough. Please keep the materials coming!

Hopewell Township Historic Sites

These are two sets of bookmarks describing Hopewell Township historic sites, published by the Hopewell Township Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) – 16 bookmarks done in 2004, and a 8 more in 2020 (with a couple expansions of the earlier set).

You can quickly browse the historic sites, with summaries, and then click to see the full sets of bookmarks. Each bookmark highlights a particular historic site, with information on its history, and whether it is listed on the National, New Jersey, and/or Hopewell Township Register of Historic Places.

Copies of the bookmarks are currently available at the Hopewell Valley Historical Society archives at the Hopewell Township branch of the Mercer County Library, and at the Hopewell Public Library.

== See the full set of Hopewell Township Historic Site Bookmarks (large PDF)
in the Pamphlet Collection ==

Mercer Street – Legion Hall and Stonecutting

Current 9 Mercer

Mercer Street in Hopewell is a fascinating example of how familiar – and also how different – our streetscapes appear compared to the early 1900s.

For example, the small building set back at the northeast end of Mercer, before the corner property on Model Avenue, was the home of Hopewell Valley American Legion Post 339 in the 1950s and 60s. It is still remembered today especially because of the annual Legion Carnival on the property, and because the building was an integral part of the route of the Hopewell Memorial Day parades.

But the story of this property and building actually goes back further to the 1890s, when this was the site of the the Seville & Reid marble and granite stonecutting business. E. E. (Edward) Seville then established his own business in Trenton by the Greenwood Cemetery in 1895. He also operated a marble yard at 5 Railroad Place, adjoining the Hopewell Herald office, around 1897 to 1899.

William I. Reid took over the yard at the corner of Mercer and Model, and significantly expanded it, including two additional locations on both sides of the railroad tracks, north beyond the end of Mercer Street. His business ran until around 1951, after his death in 1950.

== View the full property brief on 9 Mercer Street – Legion and Stonecutters (PDF) ==

This annotated aerial image from 1932 shows the way our landscape has changed (and remained the same) over the past century.

Some major landmarks remain, including the Presbyterian Church at West Broad and Louellen Streets, the Hopewell House at West Broad and Mercer Streets (now a liquor store), and the lumber yard and school house building up Model Avenue.

But other major landmarks of the first half of the 1900s are gone, including the sawmill at Model and Louellen (now a Borough pump house), the Creamery on Model at Mercer (now Boro Collision), and the baseball field off Hart Avenue (between the current Pierson Place and Newell Place).

1932 Aerial showing Mercer Street area

Hopewell’s Lost Liveries

The 1910s saw a revolution in the lives of people and towns with the introduction of the automobile, including Henry Ford’s Model T, launched in 1908. We can track this change in Hopewell Borough and other local towns through the decline of the multiple livery stables in Hopewell that were used to board, feed and care for horses.

Liveries were needed where people congregate, and the first major such site that drew people to Hopewell was the Old School Baptist Church, which was the anchor of the early growth of the town. The adjacent Hopewell House inn was built in the second half of the 1700s next to the church, on the corner of Mercer Street.

The J. M. Titus Livery then was just up Mercer Street, behind the Hopewell House and Baptist Church, providing both visitors and locals with facilities to keep their horses.

Hopewell House and Titus Livery on Mercer at West Broad, 1902 Sanborn Map
Current 1 Mercer

The livery buildings are shown in the 1902 and 1912 Sanborn fire maps, and are still standing today in Hopewell House Square.

The current-day photo shows the two-story section on the left as a convenience store, and the other two sections as stores and offices.

Up Broad Street at Seminary Avenue was the second major hotel in Hopewell, originally known as the Central Hotel back to c. 1875, and now the Hopewell Inn and Bistro a tthe corner of Seminary.

The adjacent A. Cray’s Livery was later replaced by the current cement block structure that was long used as an auto parts business, now 11-13 Seminary.

As shown in the 1902 and 1912 Sanborn maps, the livery building was behind the Central Hotel, and set back from the street, with an attached section below it (below 15 Seminary, which was the first Fire Department station), with additional sheds running behind the adjacent buildings down Seminary.

Livery at East Broad and Seminary – 1912 Sanborn Map
Recent 11-13 Seminary (auto parts)

Meanwhile, the new Public High School (later Borough Hall, and now the Firehouse at 4-6 Columbia) also was built at the corner of South Greenwood and Columbia in 1910.

We do not have images of Cray’s Livery from Seminary Avenue, but thanks to new discoveries from Bob Gantz, we do now have photos of what the area looked like from behind the properties around 1916, when viewed from the Public School grounds, where there was a tennis court on the east side of the school building, near the current driveway next to the Emergency Medical Unit addition.

We than can create a paste-up panorama from multiple photos to see the full expanse of the back of the Seminary Avenue buildings, from the Livery to the house on Columbia Avenue.

Postcards of Pennington

With the help of commentators on Facebook, we were able to better date a group of postcards of downtown Pennington, with photographs taken from the 1960s through the 1980s.

It’s amazing how well people can identify cars from that era, especially when they are just a small part of the photos. We have sightings of a 1967 Ford Ranchero, 1966 Chevy Caprice, Ford Ranchero, early 60’s Ford Galaxie, Chevy Corvair, 61 Ford Falcon, Chevy Cavalier from 1982+, Volvo 740 wagon from 1985+, 1970s AMC Gremlin, and 1986 first generation Ford Taurus.

Pennington Pharmacy, North Main Street

Gandy’s Drug Store & Trade Cards

These are examples of trade cards for J. Thomas Gandy’s drug store issued around the mid-1880s. These pocketable cards with colorful images were a popular method of promotion to clients and customers, and are shared here thanks to the kindness of Bob Gantz.

Gandy’s drug store operated in Hopewell from the mid-1880s until 1888, when the business was sold to S. W. Cochran and Ralph Ege. It was located at what is now the entrance to South Greenwood Avenue off Broad Street (Greenwood had not yet been opened at that time.) That side of West Broad Street (including the current location of the Hopewell Pharmacy) was destroyed on August 7, 1893 in the Behre’s Hall fire. This lead quickly to the opening of South Greenwood Avenue, the construction of Columbia Hall (now the site of the Hopewell Theater), and the construction of the Hopewell Pharmacy building, which has been the site of a series of drug stores ever since.

== View all the Gandy Drug Store Trade Cards in the Image Gallery ==

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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