Inside the Hopewell Inn – 1932

1932 – “Times Square” at Gebhart’s Hotel – Lindbergh press cameras [JCD]

The press frenzy following the Lindbergh kidnapping brought an estimated 250 news writers, photographers, radio and sound film people to Hopewell Borough. The Hopewell Inn – then Gebhart’s Hotel – became the press headquarters, installing dozens of additional telephone wires and a branch telegraph station.

The bonus for us today is that as a result of the press presence, we have multiple photographs of the Hopewell Inn building documenting it at the time.

Even better, thanks to the kindness of Jean Harrington, we now have multiple photos that allow us to move up to the building and see glimpses of the inside.

For more about the almost 150 year history of the Hopewell Inn, attend the upcoming talk on The Story of the Hopewell Inn – and the People Who Sustained It, on Wednesday, May 3 at 7 pm. You can come in person to the Hopewell Theater, or join online via Zoom.

Gebhart’s Hotel

The madhouse in Hopewell during the search for the Lindbergh baby continued from March 1932 to May, when the body was found. And thanks to these photos, we can walk up to the Gebhart’s Hotel building to see what was happening there.

To get a sense of the scene, the photo above shows the street around Gebhart’s Hotel as “Time Square,” with crowds of people and multiple cars supporting movie cameras.

The first exterior photo below moves closer to the left side of the building, and shows crowds of people at the corner looking into the large picture window of the Gebhart’s Hotel building. They are lined up on the porch and along the sidewalk – plus with a movie camera to the left on the street.

Note the “Gebhart’s Lunch” sign hanging from the corner, and the “Gebhart’s Lunch Room” lettering on the picture window. This left side of the building a the restaurant, while the right side was the hotel.

1932 – Lindbergh press frenzy at Gebhart’s Hotel [JGD]
1932 – Press, locals, and newsboys at Gebhart’s Hotel during Lindbergh kidnapping frenzy [JH]

But with the new photos we can move in even closer to the corner room. The second photo shows reporters, locals, and newsboys posing for the camera at the front corner of the building.

Note more “Gebhart’s Lunch Room” and Coca-Cola signs.

For more of these exterior images, see the earlier post on Hopewell Images During the Lindbergh Kidnapping.

Inside Gebhart’s Hotel

So what was happening in that corner room to draw all the attention?  These interior photos tell the story.

The first interior photo shows NBC announcer Edward Thorgerson broadcasting live from the room, with people outside pressed up close the window to watch the action.

This gives a view of the inside corner of the building, with the large picture window on the front with the “Gebhart’s Lunch Room” lettering on the window (as shown in the outside photo).

Then in front of the side window is a clear view of the wall, with what looks like wood wainscoting with a decorative rail running along the top. The wall above then has what looks like an embossed bas relief pattern.

Even better, these fit nicely with an earlier newspaper description of the renovations made to the building by John Corcoran in the early 1900s:

“The floors are of hardwood and the walls above the wainscoting, as well as the ceilings, are steel in bas relief.” 

[Hopewell Herald 6/26/1905]
1932 – Edward Thorgerson of NBC broadcasting from Gebhart’s Hotel during Lindbergh kidnapping frenzy [JH]
1932 – Radio and print media in Gebhart’s Hotel during Lindbergh kidnapping frenzy [JH]

The second interior photo then shows a larger view of the same room, packed with radio and telephone equipment and wires, plus reporters at typewriters. And it looks like Thorgerson again at the NBC microphone.

You also can see more of the wainscoting and bas relief on the walls along the room, and the large picture window in front with a Coca-Cola sign. Outside the window are the hanging Gebhart’s sign and the corner porch column.

These photos not only provide a nice progression up to and into the building, they are our only visual record of the interior of the Hopewell Inn building during its heyday from the early into the mid 1900s.

The New Inn

New design as posted on the exterior fence

The Hopewell Inn, known as the Gebhart’s Hotel in this period, had a nearly 150 year history as a part of the town of Hopewell before it was demolished in July 2022 (see Demolition Updates). It will be rebuilt as an upscale restaurant and apartments, with a historically familiar design based on the heyday of the building around the 1930s (see MercerMe article).

Work on the new building is about to begin. The new owners report that work on the footings and foundations is scheduled to start next week, weather permitting. The construction process will then start after completing permit review. The construction schedule is projected to take 15 months, again dependent on weather and supply chain/material issues.

For more about the almost 150 year history of the Hopewell Inn, attend the upcoming talk on The Story of the Hopewell Inn – and the People Who Sustained It, on Wednesday, May 3 at 7 pm. You can come in person to the Hopewell Theater, or join online via Zoom.

We welcome additional information, photos, and materials on the Lindbergh frenzy in Hopewell, and generally on the Hopewell Inn.

More on the Hopewell Inn – 15 East Broad

The Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn building at 15 East Broad Street on the corner of Seminary Avenue was demolished in July 2022. Long known as the Central Hotel, the building had a nearly 150 year history as a residential home and store, bar and restaurant, and lodging and apartments.


Hopewell Inn History

Hopewell Inn Information

Hopewell Inn Tours – 2022

Hopewell Inn Memorabilia

Hopewell Inn Demolition – July 2022

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