by Douglas Dixon
Here are some of the highlights of the 2022 additions to the History Project site, with links to more information, plus associated documents, maps, photos, and videos.
The purpose of the Hopewell Valley History Project is assemble an archive of reference material in local history, shared online in digital and searchable formats for education and research.
Thanks to the support of over 110 contributors, the site ended the year with some 525 documents and maps, and 3255 images and videos.
Some 830 files were added to the collection in the past year, continuing to grow from the beginning of the project in August 2019
- Special Projects – Pennington Profile, The Hopewell Inn
- Local History Presentations – Hoproco Toys, Railroad in Hopewell
- Local History Online, Seminary Ave. Tour
- Early Hopewell Industrialization – Model Ave. Briefs – Saw Mill, Creamery, Lumber Yard
- Hopewell History Briefs – The Book, Lost Somerset St., The Quarry
- Document Archives – 1897 & 1909 Booklets, 1900 & 1914 Hopewell Herald
- 1883 Villages of Hopewell Township, Hopewell Trolleys, Pennington 250th
- Map Archives – 1914 Delaware & Raritan Canal, 1870s Topographical and Geological Maps
- Image Gallery: Rockwell, Hopewell Railroad, Memorial Day
- Video Channel – 1940s Hopewell, 1946-1948 Hopewell Parades
- Features – Twin Pine Airport, “Pole Farm”
The two major projects of 2022 for the History Project were the creation of the new Digital Edition of Pennington Profile book by Margaret J. O’Connell, which had become out of print and now is freely available online – and the chronicling of the loss of the Hopewell Inn, though documenting artifacts and memorabilia, recording the demolition of the building, and presenting visual tours of the structure through videos, tours, and panoramas.
Pennington Profile: Digital Edition
The largest History Project effort in 2022 was the creation of a new Digital Edition of Pennington Profile, the comprehensive book by Margaret J. O’Connell. This important book of local history was out of print, but, with the support of the Pennington Public Library, is now available as a free digital download.
This new edition includes the full text and photographs from the original book published by Margaret O’Connell in 1966, plus additional photos from the second edition published by the Pennington Public Library in 1986. The full book is now reformatted in digital PDF format so it can be shared for families, students, and researchers, with 436 pages of searchable text and over 190 annotated photos.
The original book and photos were digitized and processed by Douglas Dixon, with additional layout and proofing thanks to Carol A. Errickson.
The Hopewell Inn
The most significant change to the historic streetscape of Hopewell Borough was the demolition in July 2022 of the Hopewell Valley Bistro and Inn building at 15 East Broad Street and Seminary Avenue. Also known as the Central Hotel, Cray’s Hotel, Gebhart’s Hotel, and the Hopewell Inn, the building had a nearly 150 year history as a residential home and store, bar and restaurant, and lodging and apartments. It even was briefly a national landmark with the Lindbergh kidnapping press frenzy, while to the town it has been a local gathering place.
The building’s new owner, GENESIS Investment Properties (GIP), and the construction manager, Sherute LLC, kindly assisted in documenting and sharing information on the Inn.
Hopewell Inn Memorabilia – We had the opportunity to tour the building in order to photograph and save some artifacts of its use as the Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn. These include some 45 images of the building interior, signage and menus, decorative items, and dishware and glassware.
Hopewell Inn Demolition – A day-by-day chronology of the building demolition, with some 70 demolition photos and 7 videos, from building to foundations to empty pit.
Hopewell Inn Visual Tours – An extensive collection of over 150 files exploring the original property and building. These include 3 video walkthroughs of the three floors, 130 photos of walkthroughs of the three floors and the basement, and 21 panoramic exterior views – plus annotated building plans. The panoramas are presented with a 360-degree viewer so you can circle all the way around in the scene and zoom in to see more details.
Local History Presentations
There were four new History Project presentations on local history in 2022, including three talks and another historic walking tour. Six presentation videos are now available on the History Project YouTube channel, plus two additional external videos also based on History Project research.
Hoproco Toys Presentation
Hoproco, the Hopewell Products Company, operated from 1923 to 1929 at 18 Burton Avenue in Hopewell, manufacturing metal and wooden mechanical toys and novelties.
This November presentation explores the history of Hoproco, its Burton Ave. factory, and the five known toys that the company created, circa 1925 to 1928.
Thanks to collectors Larry & Cindi Kianka and David McCandless, plus Mary Briggs and Mary Ellen Hirst Devlin, we now have over thirty photos of all five known products, along with some of the original boxes and promotional product sheets.
See the Hoproco References post for the presentation video, plus the talk slides and references.
When The Railroad Came to Hopewell Presentation
The October presentation, Life in 1900s Hopewell with the Arrival of the Railroad, explores how the arrival of the railroad drove the development of Hopewell into the town that we know today.
The talk first visualizes the growth of the town of Hopewell through historical town maps, expanding from its origins along the Old School Baptist Church on West Broad Street – along east Broad and then north and south – and with the development of industrial sites along Model Avenue and Railroad Place.
The talk then digs deeper into the feel of the time through the words of the people of Hopewell, and from seeing their actions – as they continually invested their time and money to create the kind of town where they wanted to live.
See the References post for the presentation video, plus the talk slides and references.
Discovering Local History Online: Seminary Ave. Presentation
The Discovering Local History Online: Exploring Seminary Ave. presentation from July uses Seminary Avenue in Hopewell as the example for demonstrating how researching in a variety of online resources (many free) can weave together interesting stories of our local history.
The test case for this presentation is the apparently undistinguished Seminary Avenue, which turns out to have been a “starter street” for Hopewell since it was opened around 1880.
See the Local History / Seminary Ave. References post for the presentation video, plus the talk slides and references.
Seminary Avenue Historic Walking Tour
The Seminary Avenue Historic Walking Tour was held the weekend of May 21, 2022, as part of Hopewell Valley Heritage Week. The tour covered Seminary Ave. in Hopewell Borough, plus two more blocks down Broad and Greenwood to Gazebo Park.
The tour featured the stories of the people and businesses of this apparently nondescript street that helped provide initiative and energy as a small village grew into a prosperous town – from barbers, butchers, and bakers, to auto, clothing, and grocery stores, to the Hopewell Fire Department and Public Library.
The tour continued two more blocks, down East Broad to South Greenwood to the Hopewell Gazebo Park. These blocks illustrate the institutions that helped to expand the town, including the hotel, library, church, bank, pharmacy, community hall, school, borough hall, firehouse, and post office.
See the Seminary Ave. Walking Tour References for more information, including the tour handout, street brief, and property brief along the tour route.
Early Hopewell Industrialization – Model Ave. Briefs
The growth of Hopewell as a town after the arrival of the railroads in the 1870s was accelerated by the industrial development along the tracks, first on Model Avenue, and then along Railroad Place and Somerset Street.
Last year’s major focus was the industrial development along Railroad Place, and this year completed the story with History Brief research reports on three more sites along Model Avenue that were the first steps in this development: the saw mill, the creamery, and the lumberyard. (See When The Railroad Came to Hopewell above.)
Model Ave. – Finney & Fetter Saw & Feed Mill – 1874
The Finney & Fetter Saw & Feed Mill operated in Hopewell for over 50 years, from 1874 to around 1927. The mill was on the triangular property at the corner of Model Avenue and Louellen Street, now occupied by the Hopewell Borough Pump House.
The saw mill manufactured car, wagon, and ship timber, mostly for export, shipped all around the world. It was built in 1874 by John Finney and A. G. Fetter. The mill was rebuilt by Fetter after a major fire in 1895.
The mill property was acquired by R. Scott Kise in 1919, who continued to run the saw mill until around 1927. The mill was wrecked by a serious fire around 1943, and the building and associated barns and shed were then demolished and removed in 1945.
Model Ave. – The Hopewell Creamery – 1887
The Hopewell Creamery is a lost part of Hopewell Borough, located at what is now 56 and 58 Model Avenue. We have only a couple photos and maps of the business, and no remaining local artifacts.
A creamery was established in Hopewell c. 1887 by William Naughright and Daniel Northrup, and revitalized by Peter Hernig and Daniel Northrup c.1893.
The creamery was regularly upgraded until c. 1920, when it was acquired by the Castanea Dairy Company of Trenton, which sold the property in 1925.
The property then was almost abandoned, although the creamery pond was used intermittently for public recreation in Hopewell through the 1940s, and the building was demolished some time thereafter.
Model Ave. – Lumber Yard – Golden & Van Doren – 1892
The lumberyard on Model Avenue is remembered in Hopewell Borough as “Van Doren’s,” with Bob and George Van Doren.
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. (“Jake”) 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.
Several contributors also have shared photos of the 1991 and 2004 fires at the Van Doren lumberyard on Model Avenue. (There were other major fires in 1935 and 1974, but we do not have photos of them.)
Hopewell History Briefs
One result of the archive of local historical materials at the History Project is its usefulness in researching a series of Hopewell History Briefs that provide historical information and chronologies on Hopewell Borough organizations, businesses, and properties – and the people that made them.
These research reports draw on the materials on this site, plus other sources including newspaper archives, deeds, and census records, plus information from local contributors. The History Project site finished the year with 34 History Briefs, with 11 added during 2022.
See also the additional briefs along Model Avenue above.
Hopewell History Briefs – The Book (2021)
Hopewell Borough History Briefs, 2020 – 2021 Edition is a snapshot of the research work on the History Project as of the end of 2021, including twenty History Briefs, plus additional maps, summaries of the collections, and references. The 2022 Edition is in preparation.
The book is available in two versions for download (PDF):
- Full Version – The entire contents of all the briefs – 315 pages
- Digest Version – One-page summaries of each brief – 36 pages
Lost Somerset Street – Brief
Somerset Street is the lost street of Hopewell Borough. Yes, the street is still there, but the physical history is gone – all the homes and buildings, and even the remnants of foundations and the ground itself are lost. This was mostly the result of the clean-up in the 1990s of the contamination from the Rockwell and predecessor H. A. Smith plants.
Starting in the 1890s, the street was the site of a brickyard, the first H. A. Smith building, The Hopewell Bobbin and Spool Company, E. W. Whitehead’s ice cream factory, The E. B. Coy Manufacturing Co., and other companies for which we now have almost no information. It was also the home of the Rockwell ice skating pond that was active in the 1950s and earlier, for which we have a few photos.
Hopewell Quarry Swim Club
The history of the founding of the Hopewell Quarry is becoming clearer – before the pit filled in and it became a swim club.
The story begins around 1892 with the quarry business of Joshua S. Cope, located on what is now Crusher Road just off Pennington-Hopewell Road (Route 654). Cope’s Quarry also included a stone crusher that delivered vast amounts of crushed stone (the local diabase, or “trap rock”) to build and improve the local roads.
Then from at least 1914 through 1920, the site was referred to as Amos C. Bond’s “crushery” and “stone quarry.” Various articles report that the quarry ceased operation in 1916 and the mining company filed for bankruptcy, or that mining continued to the 1930s, but we have no more sources for this.
The newspapers report people swimming in the quarry by 1922, and the previous Quarry Swimming Club later used 1928 as its start date. This starts the chain to the current Hopewell Quarry, which is now organized as a non-profit and just completed its first season.
Several contributors also have shared photos of the quarry, including a images of activities in the 1950s-60s.
The History Project Document Archives contains includes historic books from the mid 1800’s and early 1900’s and other published materials, including History Briefs.
The Pamphlet Collection contains leaflets and pamphlets distributed by local municipalities and organizations within the last 40-some years (e.g., “ephemera”).
The Property Reports are research reports organized by town and street address. These include Cultural Resource Survey documentation, and History Briefs from the History Project.
The site finished the year with some 380 documents, pamphlets, and history and property briefs, with over 60 files added during 2022.
One key type of source for historical information on local towns and businesses is business directories and other promotional materials with descriptive text and contemporaneous photographs. The work to share these on the History Project site includes not only digitizing the original documents and running text recognition software on them, but also transcribing and editing them into separate digital documents. The new documents then are laid out with the edited text and original images to be more readable and better searchable. Thanks to Carol Errickson for editing these and other historical materials.
HHH 1897 & 1909 Hopewell Booklets
Two promotional booklets from over a century ago – Healthy, Historic Hopewell from 1897, and 1909 Hopewell New Jersey have been transcribed into more readable and searchable documents.
Each is over 50 pages, with text plus 40-some photos to “set forth the advantages of Hopewell as a place of residence” – and as a place to start a business.
They are posted both as the original scans of the booklets, and as the transcribed and edited documents.
1900 & 1914 Hopewell Herald Special Editions
Two special issues of the Hopewell Herald – the 1900 Souvenir Edition and the 1914 Progress Edition – also have been transcribed into more readable and searchable documents.
These provide a wealth of information on local businesses and people – over 120 listings in all – plus over 100 photos of local places and people.
They are posted both as the original scans of the newspapers, and as the transcribed and edited documents.
1883 Villages of Hopewell Township Extract
The Villages of Hopewell Township extract of the History of Burlington and Mercer Counties, New Jersey provides information an statistics on life in Hopewell Township in 1880.
The original book, History of Burlington and Mercer Counties, New Jersey, With Biographical Sketches of Many of Their Pioneers and Prominent Men, was authored by by Major E. M. Woodward and John F. Hageman, and published in 1883.
The extract includes descriptions of the township and its history, its towns and villages, schools, churches, societies, and industry, plus biographical sketches. The village sections include origins, current businesses and houses, and chronologies of major businesses.
The original book is available in the History Project archives, plus the transcribed and edited digital extract.
Hopewell Valley Trolley Routes Article
There are still remnants of the trolley era in the Hopewell Valley in our landscape. There was one line from Trenton that began in 1902, servicing Pennington (until 1931) and Hopewell (until 1924), and two competing lines to Lawrenceville and Princeton from 1899 to 1939.
In the early 1980s, Jim Klaiber documented and photographed these trolley routes, and the resulting report now has been reformatted and posted on the History Project site. This includes histories of the lines and companies, and traces the routes and remains as of 1982.
Pennington 250th Booklet
This 72-page Pennington Sesquibicentennial 1708 – 1958 booklet was prepared by the Kleio Club in 1958 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the first recorded settlement on the site of Pennington.
This amazing reference to Pennington’s history, includes the stories of its major institutions and civic groups from the early 1700s, including churches, schools, the Library, Fire Company, and banks.
The full document has been scanned and is available on the History Project site, including photos.
The History Project Map Archives includes historic maps, municipal maps, and aerial images. The collection includes pages on all known key publicly available maps of the Hopewell Valley and its towns.
The History Project site finished the year with some 150 maps, with some 17 files added during 2022. See also the Panoramas Collection to pan/zoom in aerial views.
1914 Delaware & Raritan Canal Map
This amazing 1914 map of the entire Delaware & Raritan Canal system was drawn by the Pennsylvania Railroad, who owned the canal from 1871 until 1933.
The map provides a detailed view of the canal route and the adjacent rivers, with town names, townships and counties, railroad lines, and major roads. It also identifies the bridges and locks along the canal, and has details on the overhead bridges along the route, particularly in Trenton.
At the top of the map also has a Profile schematic showing the dramatic changes in the depth of the canal cannel along its route – from its maximum in the Trenton section, and then dropping to the levels of the Delaware and Raritan Rivers at each end. Thanks to Rich Anderson for sharing this.
1870s Topographical and Geological Maps
The site now includes historical topographical and geological maps of the region, including United States Geological Survey (USGS) topographic maps back to 1890, and New Jersey Geological Survey (NJGS) survey maps back to 1876.
The topographic maps show typology, and roads and railroads and waterways, plus towns. By 1906, they also add symbols for buildings in the towns and the outlying farms.
The colorful geological maps show surface geology and geological strata across the state.
The History Project Image Gallery is organized into albums of images for local towns (organized by street address), for local places and events (e.g., Memorial Day, Harvest Fair, Railroads), for Mementos of local places and businesses, and for Artwork and Photography collections. There are also several historical Slide Shows.
The site finished the year with some 3230 images, including photos, postcards, and panoramas, with some 715 files added during 2022.
Rockwell Artifacts and Photos
The Rockwell plant was a major employer and benefactor in Hopewell through the 1900s, until Rockwell closed the facility in 1974.
These are some interesting Rockwell artifacts and photos from the 1940s through the 1970s, including a Rockwell taxi meter and World War II parachute quick release, Rockwell News and other brochures, and photos of people and equipment, courtesy of Richard Anderson.
People on Facebook also have been helping to identify people in the circa 1953 photo of the Rockwell Fire Brigade.
Hopewell Railroad Photos
These include some wonderful close-up views of the Hope signal tower that stood south of the Hopewell train station.
This, and other similar buildings along the railbed, controlled the railroad switches that were use to guide trains between tracks.
Memorial Day in Hopewell Photos
The Hopewell Memorial Day album in the Image Galley has over 140 images of parades from the 1950s to 2000s, which also provide views of the streetscapes and buildings as they appeared at the times.
The History Project YouTube Channel (see below) also contains videos of 1946 and 1946 Memorial Day parades in Hopewell after World War II, including honor salutes and baseball games.
Memorial Day in the Hopewell Valley is marked by services and observances by the Hopewell Valley Veterans Association and by Hopewell Valley American Legion Post 339. These are conducted at multiple locations at cemeteries and churches in Hopewell Township, Hopewell Borough, and Pennington Borough, in association with the borough parades.
These observances honor local residents including Irvin D. Van Nest, Jr. (1916-1943), who was the first son of Hopewell who was killed in World War II. The story of how this news came to Hopewell was told by Dean Ashton, in his “Hopewell News” news-sheet distributed during the war, and extended into a book, Be It Ever So Humble, published in 1947.
The History Project YouTube Channel was added in 2022, and now includes 25 hosted videos.
The channel features contributed videos from back to the 1940s, current-day videos including the Hopewell Inn tours and demolition, and History Project presentations. It also includes 12 links to other external videos related to local history including presentations.
1940s Hopewell Videos
The video collection includes two hours of 1940s Hopewell videos, shot in and around Hopewell Borough eighty years ago(!), courtesy of Richard Anderson.
These include clips of particularly interesting scenes, including kids at the Grammar school playground, kids at an Easter egg hunt by the firehouse, the Fire Department in action, swimming and diving at the Quarry, trains at the Hopewell station, and the WW II Honor Roll dedication event.
1946-1948 Hopewell Parade Videos
These are three videos converted from 8mm film clips with Hopewell parades in 1946, 1947, and 1948, courtesy of Richard Anderson.
The 1946 and 1947 videos show the Memorial Day parades, filmed from several points around town.
The 1948 video shows the Firemen’s Parade, a huge event celebrating the donation by Rockwell of new fire engine.
Thanks to several contributors, the History Project also covered other properties technically across the Hopewell Township border, but still of interest to local residents.
Twin Pine Airport
The Twin Pine Airport operated from c1945 to 2008 on a 51-acre site at the northwest side of the intersection of Lawrenceville-Pennington Road and Federal City Road. The property is now the Twin Pines Recreation Area, home to numerous soccer fields.
“Pole Farm” History – 1929 – 1975
The History Project site added several pamphlets on the Pole Farm – the history and operation of the Lawrenceville Transmitting Center, and associated historical photos of the site and operation. The property is now part of now part of Mercer Meadows Park.
Thanks to Thomas Ebeling for discovering the Pole Farm pamphlet, Jerry Berg of OnTheShortWaves for sharing the Pole Farm pamphlet and photos, and Dennis Waters for sharing Pole Farm pamphlets and property map.
It’s been another busy year for the site, which has been operating for only 3 1/2 years, since August 2019. Thanks again to the contributors who have provided information and materials to help illuminate the history of our Hopewell Valley. Please do contact us if you have – or know of – other images and materials that we can share, to preserve this history before they could be lost..