Additional information about local landmarks in
New Hope Pa. Bucks County and Lambertville, NJ can be found…
Lambertville and New Hope [Images of America]
by Mastrich, James, Yvonne Warren, and George Kline
Published by Arcadia, An Imprint of Tempus Publishing, Inc.
Excerpt from the Book: Chapter Eight LIFESTYLES
There were, and still are, many colorful aspects of life in New Hope and Lambertville. Music, art, dance, opera, and sports, as well as patriotic, social, literary, and religious clubs, have always been an important part of the fabric of both communities. The Delaware was just as important as a location for play as it was for work and this is the theme that runs through the following images. In the years before the television revolutionized America’s leisure time, people grasped any and all excuses for community get-togethers and parades. It is obvious from the variety of images shown here that the town’s folk mingled a great deal and continue to do so by socializing at community events. Fire companies were glad to show off their latest equipment and horses, and later, their trucks and mascots. Bands abounded with good musicians of all ages and concerts were performed frequently for the public.
Activities held by church-affiliated organizations filled the calendar and were well attended with everyone dressed in their best bib and tucker. Both towns enjoyed church and civic events and celebrations, but New Hope had a slightly different focus because of the influence of the artistic community. William L Lathrop arrived in New Hope in the late 1890s, and, although he could not know it at he was the first in a long line of talented painters who gravitated to New the time Hope independent of each other, but who together comprised what is known as the New Hope School of Painting. Among these artists were impressionist painter Edward Redfield, whose use of bold colors and broad strokes stood in contrast to Lathrop’s style, and Daniel Garber, a realist painter and printmaker. These artists all loved the play of light on the Delaware River and the trees of the surrounding hillsides, and probably enjoyed the sense of community engendered by the close proximity of other artists.
The local people initially found many of the artists quite foreign because they Dursued a lifestyle that was very different from their own. However, once the artists and locals began to know each other on a personal level, a mutual respect and understanding developed into a bond that is still felt in the community. The emphasis on the arts continued to grow over the years. The famous Bucks County Playhouse, located in the old Parry Grist Mill, was visited by many a Broadway star in the summer months and continues to feature an array of acts today. The Lambertville Music Circus was among several other tent theaters that brought together talented performers and enthusiastic audiences. People traveled considerable distances to see these shows and the lodging and restaurant businesses that grew up as a result have evolved into the excellent bed and breakfast and restaurant cottage industry for which Lambertville and New Hope are known today.
There are many examples of the rich fabric of community life in Lambertville and New Hope. J. Fenimore Boozer’s approach to holiday celebrating and generosity provides a warm memory. Boozer was the proprietor of a hardware store located on the corner of Union and Coryell Streets in Lambertville. Each Christmas from 1853 through the 1870s he played the part of Father Christmas by giving out hundreds of bags of goodies to more than 1,200 children who visited his store. His heartfelt generosity was returned as he was eventually elected mayor for a term. He was affectionately known to the community as “Uncle Finney. And, of course, people always seemed to make time in their busy lives for frivolity. An event known as the Great Sleigh Race took place on January 2, 1873. In this
Contest several of the community’s prominent residents threw caution to the wind as they competed in a horse-drawn sleigh race from Lambertville to Center Bridge and back. A similarly riotous event held for many years was the Lambertville Tub Race. In this event, fully grown gentlemen would selecta seaworthy wash tub, and race from Delaware Street south to Coryell Street on the Feeder Canal. Sport was also central to community life. In January 1867, Angel’s Ice Skating Rink was first opened to the public. Many an evening was spent dancing across the ice. This state-of-the-art facility was fitted with coal stoves for warmth and featured a separate room for the ladies.
Quite distinct from the grace of ice skating was the pugilism of boxing. It was reported in the Easton Sentinel in 1867 that many prize fights took place between competitors from near and far in secluded locations such as Bull’s Island. Manv a gentleman (and some very ungentlemanly fellows) would take the Bel-Del for the short ride to bet on a fight or just to enjoy the contest. These prize and wager contests were held within a short distance of the Delaware because of a Pennsylvania law which stated that: “The penalty for enjoying a prize fight (in Pennsylvania), or taking part as a second or battle-holder was a fine of more than $1,000, and solitary imprnsoimer not exceeding two years. One can never quite capture in words the lifestyle and culture of a days gone by. It truly has to be experienced; to be heard, felt, seen, and touched The following photographs might give you a little taste of what once was. And perhaps if you let your imagination fly, you may be able to understand what it was like to. resident of the twin river villages in days gone by …
The Chautauqua Traveling Culture Show set up on North Main Street in New Hope PA. in 1915
Old-timers fondly remember having many pageants and festivals. Many of the revelers in this photograph may have come from the Holmquist School, which was a girls school in New Hope located on the grounds of the current La Bonne Auberge. In addition to the visits by traveling circuit performers such as Chautauqua, there were also local centers for the performing arts. The Music Circus on Music Mountain and the Bucks County Playhouse on the Delaware River offered a variety of Broadway and off-Broadway performances and concerts for the pleasure of the community. Local actors would support famous thespians in these productions. Visitors came from far and wide to get some “culture” and continue to do so to this day. (Photograph courtesy of James Magill.)