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Welcome Home Event for Last Hampton Streetcar 10AM TOMORROW at Fort Monroe

August 01, 2017 |

After a 71-year absence, and 100 years since it was built, Hampton’s streetcar 390 returns to the city it served for restoration and eventual display. The public is invited to a special welcome home ceremony TOMORROW, Wednesday, August 2 at 10:00 a.m. at 57 Patch Road on Fort Monroe.

The streetcar 390 is one of two street cars of its kind left in the United States. Built in 1917 and delivered to Hampton in 1918, it was in use until January 1946. It was one of 20 remaining streetcars running before all streetcars were discontinued in favor of busses.

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. 

According to Hampton Streetcar 390 chair Greg Siegel, “The volunteers of this project have been working to bring the 390 home since 2014. On August 2 we will have achieved the first of many goals to come. This streetcar represents the growth of the area during the time when local businesses and military were growing at a rapid pace. The streetcars provided access for new neighborhoods farther out around Newport News and Hampton where only a 5 cents fare would get you anywhere you need to go from shopping, to work and to play. The streetcar will bring this story to life to share these decades of growth to a new generation is something you can’t pass up.”

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.