Model Ave. Lumber Yard – Golden & Van Doren

The lumberyard on Model Avenue is remembered in Hopewell Borough as “Van Doren’s,” with Bob and George Van Doren, but its history there goes back over a century – to their father, J. C. (“Jake”) Van Doren, who took over in 1923, and earlier to A. S. Golden, who founded the coal, lumber, and feed business there in 1892.

And depending on how you want to count, the predecessor hay press business actually started on the site in 1889, and the property is still being used today for building materials by JMAT Supply, so that’s some 130 years of related businesses on the site!

Current Model Ave. Lumberyard Site
Bob Van Doren at the lumberyard office, 2000

== View the full brief on the Model Ave. Lumberyard (PDF) ==

== View Van Doren / Golden mementos in the Image Gallery ==

1889 – Hay Press

HH 10/29/1889

The lumberyard site was first used in 1889 by Levi H Reed (1841-1914) & J. Mason Ege (1866-1919), who purchased the property and built hay press buildings.

These used compression (typically horse or mule powered) to convert farmer’s wagons of hay into packaged – and saleable – bales of hay.

A 1890 map shows the hay press on the site, already served by a railroad siding angling over from the main line.

1892 – A. S. Golden

Golden & Bond [HHH 1897]

In 1892, Abram S. Golden  (1848-1923) combined several local businesses on the site, including the hay press, the F. F. Holcombe & Bro. coal yard, and the lumber yard of Randolph Stout. Stout was then living in the building that is now the Hopewell Museum (28 East Broad), with his lumber yard on the adjacent lot to the east of his house (and behind).

Golden partnered briefly with Amos C. Bond as “Golden & Bond” (as shown in the photo), and sold coal for heating, lumber and other building materials, and fertilizer and agricultural supplies. Their ads list building materials including “lime, sand, cement & hair, Appleton feed mills, &c.,” and farming and other supplies including “hay, grain, straw, bran, sprouts, cotton seed meal, and the best family flour.”  

After the departure of Bond in 1895, the business continued as “A. S. Golden,” also adding agricultural implements, farming equipment, and repair services. Golden’s son, William E. Golden, also operated a furniture business on the site, selling fine furniture, house furnishings, and carpets.

1923 – J. C. Van Doren

JC Van Doren in Lumberyard, c1940s

In 1923, Jacob C. Van Doren (1870-1951) purchased the lumber and coal business after the death of A. S. Golden, and operated it as “J. C. Van Doren.”

Van Doren continued to offer a wide range of products, including coal, building materials (“cement, roofing, lathing, lumber”), and feeds and feed grinding. Ads featured Ful-O-Pep brand Egg Mash for chicken feed, made by The Quaker Oats Company, which results in “15 eggs to the dozen.”

Van Doren also operated a retail ice business for many years, filling ice houses with ice from his farm pond over the winters.

1945 – J. C. Van Doren and Sons

In 1946, the Van Doren property passed to Robert A. & George H. Van Doren, who were working full-time with their father. Bob and George had both graduated from Rider and served in the National Guard, and Bob had served in the Marine Corps during World War II in the Pacific.

Bob Van Doren in lumberyard office, 1995
George Van Doren on his 78th birthday, 1995

All three worked in the business into their 80s. The family reports that J. C. Van Doren insisted on going down to the office until the end of his life, carried down to the office on a chair by his sons, crossing the tracks from his home on Hart Avenue. George worked until his death in 1999 at age 82, and Bob worked six full days a week until he retired due to health reasons at age 89, and lived to 2013. Bob never owned or used an adding machine, calculator or computer – doing invoice and pricing calculations in his head.  

Lumberyard Fires

1/2004 Van Doren’s Lumberyard Fire

The combination of flammable wooden buildings and stacks of lumber meant that the Van Doren lumberyard was at risk of serious fires.

At least four such fires occurred, in 1934, 1974, 1991, and 2004, with the 1991 fire caused by a spate of arson fires across the town and the local area.

See previous post with photos and more information on the lumberyard fires.

2005 – JMAT Supply – and Redevelopment

In 2005, Henry Wittman III purchased the property, and his son, Henry Wittman IV, purchased the Van Doren Lumber business, which became JMAT Supply.

Lumberyard redevelopment plan

The next step for the lumberyard property is conversion into townhouses. In August 2022, the Hopewell Borough Planning Board approved a proposal by Henry Wittman III for the redevelopment of the lumberyard property with 13 residential townhouses, including two affordable housing units, one low income and one moderate income (see MercerMe article).

== View the full brief on the Model Ave. Lumberyard (PDF) ==

== View Van Doren / Golden mementos in the Image Gallery ==

Thanks especially to Kate Hepburn and Carole Thompson for sharing Van Doren family information, photos, and artifacts.

Please contact us if you have more information or material to share on the Model Ave. lumberyard, or on Hopewell area history in general.

More on Industrial Sites on Model Avenue

Model Avenue was the first site of industrial development in Hopewell Borough after the arrival of train service in the 1870s, followed by Railroad Place.

Hopewell with the Arrival of the Railroad

Finney & Fetter Saw & Feed Mill (1874)

Golden & Van Doren Lumber Yard (1892)

The Hopewell Creamery (c. 1887)

3 thoughts on “Model Ave. Lumber Yard – Golden & Van Doren

  1. Robert Golcher

    I thought Phillip Van Doren worked in the business also?

    1. ddixon

      Bob & George were the owners after J. C., so they are the focus here.

  2. […] Golden & Van Doren Lumber Yard and Finney & Fetter Saw & Feed Mill for more on the development on Model […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: