Volunteer group brings Peninsula history to life with ‘Hampton Streetcar 390 Project’

Hampton

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Saving history through restoration — that’s what volunteers in Hampton are doing to bring an outdated piece of transportation back to life.

It’s called the Hampton Streetcar 390 Project, and volunteers go out every Saturday in the heat to put back together that streetcar they believe shows how much the Peninsula has grown.

“It’s an opportunity to save history, and not everyone gets an opportunity to save history,” said Greg Siegel, the volunteer coordinator for the project.

Siegel says in 2013, the Baltimore Streetcar Museum notified the city they had one that used to run in Hampton.

In 2017, the group raised enough money to bring it down here and this past June, volunteers started working on it at Fort Monroe.

It was built in 1917, and operated till the mid-40s before being replaced by buses.

“From Hampton to Newport News to Buckroe Beach to the shipbuilding company in Newport News to Hilton Village, it ran til 1946 of January that year, until the last few street cars were taken off the tracks and replaced with buses,” Siegel said.

The car became a home before ending up at the streetcar museum.

Siegel says he got involved because Hampton is a generational community and he wants people to remember their history when looking at it.

“I look at it where it its always great to save something of our past. A street like this one is so representative of the large part of growth of Hampton and Newport News and thought it was worth saving,” Siegel said.

He says it’s expensive to remodel the streetcar. Along with their costs to build an enclosure around it, Siegel believes it will cost them around $800,000.

That’s why they’re looking for donors and volunteers to come out and help them put it back together.

Siegel says you don’t have to have any skill to help out. “When a street car comes they always had room for more to come on,” he said.

Once it’s complete, the streetcar will go next to the Hampton History Museum, Siegel says.

“Our car is not going to be running around downtown. We’re not going to put tracks down. We’re not going to put wires overhead. We’re going to put it in a building,” he said.

He hopes their finished product will help stir up memories and show how far they’ve come for future generations.

“Anytime you can save history, it’s a good thing, preserve it for future generations. That’s why I’m here,” Siegel said.

Siegel expects the car and the building to be completed in four years.

If you would like to help out, you can send donations to PO Box 1414, Hampton , VA 23661 or email questions to streetcar390project@gmail.com.

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