These are some fascinating photos of two fires at the Van Doren lumberyard on Model Avenue in Hopewell. The photos of the 2004 fire are courtesy of Ann and Tom Johnson, and the photos of the major 1991 fire are courtesy of Dick Sudlow.
The Model Avenue lumberyard began in 1892 under Abram S. Golden and Amos C. Bond, and sold coal, feed, fertilizers, lumber, and other building supplies. The business was taken over by Jacob C. Van Doren in 1923, and passed to his sons, Robert and George Van Doren, in 1946. The property and business then transitioned to JMAT Supply in 2005.
(This is work in progress on the history of the lumberyard – There were other major fires in 1935 and 1974, but we do not have photos of them. So additional contributions are welcome!)
== See all the images in the Model Ave. Lumberyard album in the Image Gallery ==
The 2004 fire occurred during the day on January 14, 2004, and destroyed the two-story building on the east side of the property (to the right from the driveway). The far end of the building was the office for the lumberyard, and the reminder of the building closer to the street was used for storage of construction materials. The fire reportedly started from a wood stove inside the office.
The photos show flames first engulfing the far end of the building and a near-by tree. The fire department moved in to control the blaze and prevent it from spreading to the adjacent lumber piles and the building next door.
The major 1991 fire occurred on the evening of February 21, 1991, and consumed several storage buildings along the west side of the property (the left side from the street). Flames reportedly shot over 75 feet into the air, and some 29 local fire companies were eventually called in to control the blaze. This included stopping Conrail railroad traffic to place one company on the tracks behind the property, and using some 30 tankers to shuttle water from the Quarry and other sites to temporary tanks, as the fire was depleting the town water supply.
The fire was one of at least ten suspected cases of arson fires of buildings in Hopewell Borough and the Township in 1991, along with 55 brush fires. A volunteer firefighter was arrested for this damage in October.
The photos show the nighttime flames, and the aftermath and clean-up the next day. The long wooden sheds on the left side of the property were destroyed, and the concrete storage building behind was reduced to partial walls. Amazingly, the fire companies saved the immediately adjacent home and garage, which were separated by only a driveway. The office building that burned down in 2004 also was still standing.
This is part of ongoing research along Model Avenue, including the Finney & Fetter Saw & Feed Mill (just posted), the Golden / Van Doren Lumberyard, and the Creamery.
These are the only photos that we have of the lumberyard during this time – So we are particularly interested in discovering and sharing information, photos, documents, and other materials from the Van Doren lumberyard and the other Model Avenue properties.