April 2023 Update – Hopewell Inn Discoveries

The April updates to the History Project featured views of kids at the Hopewell Grammar School on Model Avenue around 1912 and views of the Skillman General Store and Post Office around 1950, plus new discoveries related to the Hopewell Inn. (See Site Updates for more.)

By the numbers, we finished the month with 299 files in the Archives, including 149 documents and 150 maps and aerials. The Image Gallery now has 3265 files, and the Panoramas Collection has 44 images. The Pamphlet Collection has 191 documents, and the Property Reports Collection has 87 documents, with 58 Site Survey reports and 29 Property Briefs. The interactive History Map includes 775 addresses with 102 historic places in Hopewell Borough. The History Project YouTube Channel is hosting 26 videos, plus 14 external local history videos, including 5 videos of History Project presentations. Please keep the materials coming!

Hopewell Grammar School Kids – c1912

View of Model Ave. from the Hopewell Grammar School with the school transportation wagon, c1912

These images from around 1912 show the kids at the Lincoln Grammar School on Model Avenue in Hopewell, as photographed by Ethel Holeman, a new teacher starting her career there, courtesy of of her daughter, Eleanora McAlinden Kolbert.

One photo shows the view from the front of the school building, facing a muddy Model Avenue. The horse-drawn covered wagon is the “school bus” of its time, the school transportation wagon that served children from outside of town.

Ethel Holeman grew up in Hopewell and was hired to teach at the Grammar School in 1912. However, in 1914 her contract was not renewed when she was blackballed because she was a Catholic. She then left town to go work in Perth Amboy, but later married Merritt McAlinden and returned to Hopewell where she raised five children and served as organist at St. Alphonsus Church for 28 years, while Merritt served as postmaster of the Hopewell post office from 1942 to 1958.

Skillman General Store and Post Office – c1950

Skillman General Store and Post Office, 1940s

These photos of the Skillman General Store and attached Skillman, N. J. Post Office, are from around 1950, also from the collection of Eleanora Kolbert.

The store has an impressive amount of display advertising visible in the photos, including signs for Coca-Cola, Salada Tea, 7-up, Canada Dry, MODEL Smoking Tobacco and Phillies cigars, and Esso gas.

The attached Skillman Post Office was part of the rather ramshackle addition on the left. The main building (but not the additions) still stands on Skillman Road near Fairview Road (where it becomes Camp Meeting Avenue).

Hopewell Inn Discoveries

Additional perspectives on the Hopewell Inn, based on comparing multiple photos of the building during its history.

1932 – NBC broadcasting from Gebhart’s Hotel [JH]
  • Inside the Hopewell Inn – Uses a collection of photos to move up to and inside the Hopewell Inn (then Gebhart’s Hotel) during the 1932 Lindbergh press frenzy, explaining the crowds and matching the building interior to written descriptions from the building’s renovations in 1905.
  • Seeing Changes to the Hopewell Inn – Explores the four major phases in the renovations to the Hopewell Inn by different owners over the last century and a half. As a result, when you look at any photo of the building, the details on the front of the structure will reveal the corresponding time period in its history.
Drone aerial of old foundations [Steve Webb]
  • Hopewell Inn Foundations – Explores the history of the Hopewell Inn through photos and video of the building’s foundations, enabling us to uncover clues to how the building was reworked over the years.

Please contact us if you have – or know of – other images and materials that we can share to help illuminate the history of our Hopewell Valley.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: