A Conversation with Lambertville’s Tour Guides (Continued)

Following is the second part of our conversation with tour guides Kate Breuning, Loren Hurwitz, Jeff McVey and Lou Toboz.

Loren Hurwitz leading a tour. Photo by Rick Epstein, Hunterdon County Democrat

Do longtime Lambertville residents participate or comment?

LH: I’ve had residents come outside and embellish my stories when they hear me leading a tour by their homes. And I have had descendants of the Lamberts take the tour.

JM: They often add important information. From time to time, we’re invited into residents’ yards during a tour.

KB: Once I was leading a group by the Matthews House, the yellow home north of City Hall, and the owners arrived and let us tour the first floor.

Tell us about your favorite landmarks.

LT: My neighbors’ house on George and Coryell Streets is wonderful to study because of the additions in different styles over the years.

KB: City Hall on N. Union Street was originally built as a mansion for the Holcombe family. Then it became a Men’s Club. Later, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the building held City Hall, the Police Department, Library and the Jail—all at the same time. In Sheridan Park, I point out that the cannon was used at the Battle of Vicksburg. On the monument, the first three names of the war dead who are memorialized were brothers. How terrible must that have been for the family!

JM: Marshall House is probably my favorite landmark. It’s one of the oldest Federal homes in town.

Lou Toboz (left) leading a tour. Photo by Mike Menche

Any interesting comments or anecdotes? 

LH: One of the most interesting tours was the one I did, in French, for the parents of one of my students at Princeton University.  My French is far from strong, so I asked a friend to come along to translate.  She used the self-guided tour cards I developed as support for dates, etc.  She liked it so much that she has asked me to do it again, for some of her relatives from Luxembourg.

KB: People are amazed that the Hunt & Faherty Law Office on Delaware Avenue was in fact built in 1933 as a law office, not primarily as a residence (though the second floor was an apartment). It was designed by Margaret Spencer, one of the first female practicing architects in the United States and a graduate of MIT. And there is the 1860 Victorian home on Jefferson and George Street that was built by Gershom Lambert, who then added its distinctive tower in 1884. It was eventually purchased by William Smith, owner of the hairpin factory that went out of business in the 1920’s when women began bobbing their hair. Later, the house was inhabited for many years by a former Ziegfeld Follies dancer—she had a fantastic costume collection.

LT: One woman said her grandmother supplied food to the prisoners in the old jail. Another said her grandfather had been a 12-year-old boy entrusted with stoking the former Episcopal Church’s furnace and, due to inexperience, he accidentally started the fire that burned the Church down.

What do people ask you about during the tour?

KB: Some people ask, “Where do the people who live here work?” as if it’s a mystery! I tell them a lot of residents work right here in town, where we have a number of businesses, or in Trenton, Princeton, Flemington, Bucks County—even Philadelphia or New York City. Of course, many people these days work remotely from home, too.

JM: People are fascinated with floods and fires that have occurred here. And a common question is, “What are the taxes here?”

LT: There is a fascination with change over time in both working and living, which is so evident in Lambertville.

Final thoughts?

LH: Recently, I was walking down the aisle at The Home Depot in Princeton when I heard someone say, “There goes the Lambertville Tour Guide.” That was pretty cool.

JM: At the end of the tour, people want to live here. Now that is a rewarding reaction!

For more information about the guided walking tour, visit this webpage.

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