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Images from the 
George H. Frisbie Collection

One of the very first and most important collections donated to the Hopewell Valley Historical Society was a large group of photographic glass negatives. 

There was a time in the third quarter of the 19th century when professional photographers emerged from their studios and ventured out to capture the world around them. Soon professionals lost their exclusivity and "making pictures" became a hobby for many amateurs. One early enthusiast was George Frisbie of Pennington. His family operated a small dry goods store on Main Street, so young George watched the 20th century arrive through the eyes of a successful merchant family.

This vast collection numbering nearly seven-hundred images taken between 1890-1920 captured life as he saw it.  He was interested in his community's architecture, transportation, recreation, and took many portraits of his friends and neighbors.

George's grandfather Augustus Frisbie had come to Pennington from Connecticut in the early 1840's. He established a store on South Main Street that he later operated with his son Joseph. At his passing, Joseph became the owner of the store where he had worked since boyhood.  In turn, at Joseph's death in 1881, his son George took over operation of the dry goods and grocery business. He continued on for several more years before becoming a financial officer at a large Trenton wholesale food business.

George married Clara Mangan and together they lived near the center of Pennington. Their son Edgar was born in 1893 and is the subject of many of the photographs. Unfortunately, Edgar died tragically while serving in France during World War I. George's brother Walter Frisbie was active in the life of the community and served as Mayor of Pennington from 1914 -1917. 

In 1986, Walter's daughter-in-law Alice Frisbie and Alice's daughter Mary Thornton generously  donated the entire collection of glass plate negatives to the Hopewell Valley Historical Society. The community is extremely fortunate to have this wonderful photographic record of its past saved for future generations. 

Please support the important work done by the Hopewell Valley Historical Society by becoming a member today. 


This old house was home to the Bunn family. Located on Yard Road, it served as a meeting place for the early Methodists of the Pennington area.
Another important aspect of life in Pennington during this period was its growth. These houses were the first built on the newly created Eglantine Avenue. Many houses still standing today were photographed by Frisbie soon after their construction.
The images in the George Frisbie Collection document many aspects of early 20th century life in Pennington. Stunning portraits like this document period fashions and some interesting hat styles.
Portraits are a major component of the Frisbie Collection. Most of the people photographed are un-named, including this young boy.
This collection also records the changes that took place in daily life. One transition was the changing modes of transportation during the period. The photographer paused here to capture his buggy and companions out for a Sunday drive.
The first person in many communities to purchase an automobile was the doctor. This early Buick belonged to Dr. Hart of East Delaware Avenue.
The early amateur photographers captured scenes not recorded by professionals of the period. Hamming it up at the Jersey Shore was one such activity. Many locations in this large collection were taken outside of Hopewell Valley.
As the Industrial Age took away many labor intensive activities, people had more time for fun. This photo captures the Pennington Athletic Association team on the steps of their Academy Avenue clubhouse after a big game. The bat boy sports a "Mona Lisa" smile.
Street railways were common modes of early commuter transportation. This trolley, shown approaching Delaware Avenue on North Main, connected the community with Trenton. It operated down Pennington Road from 1903 until the early 1930s.
In the 18th and 19th century many mills operated along Stony Brook. The associated dams made for a much wider stream. This scene near Pennington shows how it looked in those days. Boating and bicycling were  favorite recreational pastimes during this period.
Special events like picnics and bicycle rides that Frisbie participated in were favorite subjects for his camera. This scene along Stony Brook was a typical activity during the "gay-nineties".
With the development of many labor saving devices in the late 19th century some woman found time to enjoy a few hours of recreation. This group rows leisurely along Stony Brook near Pennington in the 1890s.
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