Discovering Hopewell History – Photos from 1939

How can we find out about Hopewell history, and make sense of family photos like these 1939 Hopewell street scenes contributed by Doug Robbins? While these were originally shot as snapshots of Rena Wolfe, they are interesting to us because they show the two buildings that are diagonally across Broad Street and Greenwood Avenue.

However, these buildings are part of two mysteries – When and why did the National Bank building lose all the windows on the front side? And what was “The Spot,” and the other stores that were next to the drug store?

On Wed., July 6, Doug Dixon will present “Discovering Local History Online,” and demonstrate local examples of how researching in a variety of online resources (many free) can weave together interesting stories of our local history.

The Hopewell Public Library talk will be live at the Hopewell Theater, and also available online via Zoom. Follow the link for more information, and to sign up for the Zoom presentation.

National Bank – 2 East Broad

The National Bank building at 2 East Broad Street is now the home of Dana Communications. It was built in 1914 as the second home of the Hopewell National Bank, which was previously at 13 East Broad (the current Hopewell Public Library building).

Rena Wolfe in 1939 – with the National Bank building behind at Broad and Greenwood [Doug Robbins]
Princeton Bank building in 1965 at Broad and Greenwood – front windows covered [Bob Gantz]

But researching different photos of the building over the years raises the question of when the front windows were covered up.

The 1939 photo shows the National Bank building with the original front, with windows on the first and second floors, matching the windows around the sides (and the back). The front windows are still visible in photos up through 1955, but are gone by photos from 1965 – which was after the bank merged into the Princeton Bank and Trust in 1956.

The building today still has the empty front facade, broken up only by the street entrance. So when and why were the windows covered up?

Drug Store – “The Spot” – 5 West Broad

The current Hopewell Pharmacy building at 1 West Broad Street was built in 1894 after the Behre’s Hall fire wiped out that corner of the intersection. Since it was constructed, the building has been the home of a pharmacy / drug store through a series of owners.

Rena Wolfe at “The Spot” in 1939 – Next to the Drug Store on West Broad at Greenwood [Doug Robbins]
5 and 10 store in 1964 – Next to the drug store on West Broad at Greenwood [Dick Sudlow]

The right side of the building, now part of the pharmacy, previously held several stores including an ice cream store and a 5 & 10 cent store.

“The Spot” ad in the Hopewell Herald, 12/20/1939

The 1939 photo shows the right side of the building as “The Spot” ice cream store. A newspaper ad from the same year gives the store’s address as 5 East Broad Street, and lists the proprietor as George J. Myers, Jr. (The next building, the former Village Market and Brothers Moon, is 7 West Broad.)

We can find out about George Myers in Be it Ever So Humble, Dean Ashton’s book covering the Word War II years in Hopewell (see earlier post). Myers enlisted in 1942, served in the Navy, and returned to Hopewell in 1945. As a result, “The Spot” closed down, and replaced by Miller’s 5 and 10 in 1943 (see the 1964 photo).

So does anyone know more about  “The Spot” and the 5 & 10?

We welcome these kinds of photos and other local history materials that we can help preserve and share.

Click for more information Doug Dixon’s presentation on “Discovering Local History Online,” Wed., July 6, at 7 pm. The talk will be live at the Hopewell Theater, and also available online via Zoom. Follow the link for more information, and to sign up for the Zoom presentation.

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