The story of the Hopewell Inn – and the people who sustained it

On May 3, Doug Dixon, creator of the, will give a talk on the Hopewell Inn, long known as the Central Hotel, which had a nearly 150 year history as a part of the town of Hopewell before it was demolished in July 2022. The building was used for residential and retail, hotel and livery, saloon and apartments, luncheonette and rooming house, and bar and bistro

The presentation will explore the forgotten history of the Hopewell Inn and the people and families who nurtured and reinvigorated the building and ran the businesses through the years. The talk will include a visual tour of the physical building, including the upstairs, cellar, and foundation. But the focus is more about the forgotten people who changed, enhanced, and repurposed the property to allow it to continue as a central part of Hopewell life for almost a century and a half. We also will have some artifacts that were preserved at the Hopewell Museum.

The story of the Hopewell Inn begins in the 1870s with the Sexton sisters, who sold their family farm and opened Hopewell’s first drug store in the building.

After being converted into a hotel in 1893 and expanded in the early 1900s, the building’s heyday continued into the 1930s, when, as Gebhart’s Hotel, it became the headquarters for the world press after the Lindbergh kidnapping.

Since the 1950s, the building was shepherded by multiple generations of two different families, as it evolved into a friendly neighborhood bar, restaurant, and gathering space.

In addition to the building owners who focused on food and lodging, we also will remember others there who contributed to Hopewell, including Mrs. Carter’s Millinery and Fancy Goods store (and Library!), Cray’s Oyster Saloon and Livery, Funeral Director F. K. Forsythe, and Paul (“Pop”) and Bertha Gebhart’s Lunch Room.

About the speaker:  Doug Dixon is an independent technology consultant and writer, now morphed into a history enthusiast. He is a board member of The Hopewell Museum and the Hopewell Valley Historical Society.

Over the past few years since mid-2019, Doug has developed the Hopewell Valley History Project and website (, working with over a hundred local contributors to collect and freely share digital copies of local historical materials. The History Project now hosts some 500 documents and maps, 3000 images and videos, and an interactive historical map of Hopewell to aid research into Hopewell area people and places.

As a software technologist, Doug specializes in Web technology, databases, and digital media. He has consulted for the Aberdeen Test Center doing large data testing and visualization, and previously was a product manager and software developer at Intel and Sarnoff. He has authored four books on digital media, published hundreds of feature articles, and presented over a hundred technical seminars and talks.

Wed., May 3, 2023, 7 pm – Free and open to the public
– Attend in person –
 at the Hopewell Theater, 5 S. Greenwood Ave., Hopewell, NJ
– Or join online via Zoom – Click to Register Only for the Zoom Presentation

Hopewell Public Library Speaker Series – Co-sponsored by the Hopewell Valley Historical Society and The Hopewell Museum

For more on the Hopewell Inn, see the Hopewell Valley History Project –

Drawing by Audrey Jones (2003)

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