Hopewell Borough History Briefs – The Book

We’ve compiled together twenty History Briefs written over the past two years and packaged them up as a “book” (free PDF download) for convenient reference, searching, and printing. These History Project research reports provide historical information and chronologies on Hopewell Borough organizations, businesses, and properties, and the people that made them.

See below for some of the more interesting / surprising discoveries from this work.

As a snapshot of the current work on the History Project, the Hopewell Borough History Briefs, 2020 – 2021 Edition, includes the twenty History Briefs, plus additional maps, summaries of the collections, and references.

The Full version, with all the briefs, is 315 pages. There’s also a summary Digest version (36 pages) with one-page summaries of each brief, containing chronologies and key names and events. (These are mostly the first page of each of the briefs.)

The briefs draw on the materials on the History Project site, including documents, pamphlets, maps, aerials, and photographs and artwork. They also are based on additional research in external sources including newspaper articles, census records, deed books, and genealogical data. In addition, the research is informed by discussions with current and former local residents and their families.

This work also was shared through slideshows, online and in-person presentations, and walking tours (see Presentations).


The Hopewell Borough History Briefs, 2020 – 2021 Edition, is available in two versions for download (PDF):

  • Full Version – The entire contents of all the briefs – 315 pages

This compilation, and the individual briefs, are a work in progress. They are based on the information available at the time of the research, and are not intended to be either the full or last word on these topics. We expect to update and add to these briefs over time, and welcome additional materials on these and other local history topics.


DIscoveries

Some of the more interesting and sometimes surprising (and myth-busting) discoveries about Hopewell Borough from this research:

Organizations

  • The first location of the Hopewell Free Public Library in 1914 was on West Broad Street at the corner of Mercer Street, and not in the pizza shop building up Mercer.
  • There were four different fire companies in Hopewell, with three operating (and competing) at the same time in the 1910s.
  • There were four different veteran’s associations in Hopewell back to 1887 (Civil War), including two different American Legion Posts. The original Legion Post 273 installed the eagle monument now in front of the Hopewell Elementary School, which was originally in the center of the intersection of Broad Street and Greenwood Avenue.

Streets

  • Three of the buildings across the street from the Hopewell Presbyterian Church on West Broad Street were associated with the church, including the first Manse (1892) and the first Chapel (1877) – which was later rotated and moved on the property.
  • The legacy of barbers along Seminary Avenue goes back to Harry Cox in 1906 (in a small building that is now gone), and continues through an unbroken a chain of partners to the present day.

Properties

  • The current Aunt Chubby’s Luncheonette building at North Greenwood Avenue and Railroad Place has been a restaurant and “Corner Store” through at least nine owners back to at least 1902.
  • The Soupe Du Jour restaurant operated through two different owners from 1973 in the small building at East Broad and Blackwell, but originally started a year earlier in the Tomato Factory building at Somerset Street and Hamilton Avenue.
  • The Hopewell Inn and Bistro building on West Broad Street at Seminary Avenue has been a restaurant and hotel through eight owners back to 1893. The building originally was the site of the drug store of Susan A. and Sarah Sexton by 1878.
  • The original building of the Second Calvary Baptist Church was built in 1897 on First Street at the end of Maple Street. The current building on Columbia Avenue was built in 1959, and the abandoned original building was deliberately burned in 1963 by the local fire company.
  • The corner of Mercer Street at Model Avenue was a large stonecutting operation from 1887 to the early 1950s.

Railroad Place

  • Both the Hopewell and Pennington train stations were built at the same time, by the same people, at the end of 1876.
  • There is a hunk of metal on the driveway to the right of the Hopewell train station which is the end bumper of the railroad spur that used to run to that point to park boxcars.
  • There are two buildings along the train tracks on Railroad Place that were destroyed in different spates of arson around the area, in the 1970s and 1990s.
  • The Chocolate Factory building was originally built as a Shirt factory (1892), but also was the home of a Vibrator company before its long run as, yes, a chocolate business to 1930.
  • J. B. Hill and Sons was a Hopewell fixture for over a century at the corner of Railroad Place and Hamilton Avenue, back to a coal business in 1890. It was listed in the 1910 Bell phone directory simply as phone number “5”, and retained that number until it closed, albeit expanded to “Hopewell 5”, then “HO6-0005”, and finally 609-466-0005
  • Yes, the Tomato Factory was originally a canning business, which operated through four owners from 1892 to 1951. The factory only operated during the harvest season and was otherwise empty – running around six weeks a year, from early August through September (or until the first frost).
  • The former Rockwell / Kooltronic plant on Hamilton Avenue at Somerset Street has been expanded numerous times, but the original building from 1927 still remains as the section along Somerset. The original H. A. Smith Manufacturing Co. actually started further up Somerset in 1900, and also had a building across Somerset in the current parking lot around 1903.
  • Somerset Street was the site of a large brickyard in the 1890s, although no artifacts from the period remain.

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