Hampton History Museum

Posted on: September 13, 2017

Streetcar 390 Open House - Saturday, September 30, 10 am-3 pm

Square spirit door opening

After 71 years the last Hampton streetcar #390 returned to Hampton in August for restoration. The public is invited to get an up close look at the 390 before she starts a multi-year restoration process at a special Open House at 57 Patch Road on Fort Monroe on Saturday, September 30 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. On hand will be members of the Streetcar 390 Project to answer questions about the history of the car, the restoration and the history of streetcars on the Peninsula. The event is free and open to the public.

According the 390 Project committee head Greg Siegel, "This open house will give the public one last look at the 390 before undergoing restoration. We will be holding periodic open houses throughout the years giving the community a chance to see the progress we are making in bringing the 390 back to life." Siegel goes on to say "The speed of the restoration will depend on how fundraising goes. The more money that is raised the faster the project can get done."

Follow Hampton's Streetcar 390 Project on Facebook for the latest updates, or visit www.HamptonStreetcar390.com.

After arriving on Fort Monroe, follow the signs to the event location. For more information, call the Hampton Visitor Center at 757/727-1102.

A Brief History of Hampton’s Streetcar 390

Built in 1917 and delivered to Hampton in 1918, the 390 was in use until January 1946. It was one of 20 remaining streetcars running before all streetcars were discontinued in favor of buses.

The 390 was built by the J.G. Brill Company of Philadelphia, PA. The car was of the type called a semi-convertible. This model featured windows that opened completely to let the air flow throughout the car making for a more comfortable ride for passengers than other models of the era. When the 390 arrived in Hampton it was 8’6” wide and 46’7” long, and could carry 52 seated passengers and approximately 47 standing, although this number was often exceeded during peak periods.

After it was pulled from service, the 390 was sold to John and Mary Anderson for $100. It was moved to their Grafton property in York County, where the couple turned the car into their home where they lived until 1977.

While returning to Baltimore from Virginia Beach with his family in the summer of 1977, one of the members of the Baltimore Streetcar Museum noticed the streetcar along the side of Route 17, and stopped to inquire about it. The semi-convertible model was once common in Baltimore, but the museum did not have one in its collection. Arrangements were made to have the car donated to the Baltimore Streetcar Museum.  

The 390 has been sitting at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum since then. The museum periodically performed restoration work on the car over the years, but decided in 2013 to offer the 390 to Hampton to bring it back home. The 390 was welcomed back to Hampton with a ceremony on August 2, 2017.

Restoration and Display

The trolley’s return for restoration was spearheaded by Hampton’s Streetcar 390 project with support from the Hampton History Museum.The facility where the restoration will take place is provided by the Fort Monroe Authority. Restoration work will be done by Keith Bray, who has restored a number of streetcars for organizations around the country, with support from a group of volunteers.

Once the 390 was loaded into building 57, Greg Siegel, Mike McHenry, Hank Mummert and restorer Keith Bray conducted a survey of the car to start the process of building a timeline of restoration.

After restoration, plans call for the streetcar to be placed in a custom-built pavilion in Downtown Hampton. The pavilion will be not just home to the 390 but will act as a learning venue featuring a multi-media display that will take visitors on an exciting ride though Hampton during the 1930’s. Along with this, there will be interactive displays about how the streetcar system functioned and how it shaped the physical and cultural development of Hampton.

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