NEW HOPE, Pa. (CBS)—The town of New Hope has been a staple in Bucks County from the very beginning. Once a place where mills employed a majority of the town, it’s now a picturesque place where artists and mom-and-pop shops are thriving.
No matter how you get to New Hope, Pennsylvania, you’ll be charmed by the experience.
“When I came out east, I came from Milwaukee and I was used to an artistic community,” said Cynthia Wuthridge, an artist and now longtime resident of the area. “My aunt told me, ‘go to New Hope, you’ll find it there.'”
From the brick pavers to the canopy of greenery around every corner, this town invites artists to capture the natural beauty.
New Hope’s scenic scapes have been a big draw for creative people looking for an eclectic community since the early 1900s.
“I think it was just the scenery, the landscape here for the impressionist painters,” said New Hope Mayor Laurence Keller. “And that evolved in 1900, 1905, just north of here. Once you get one noted artist who’s known nationally, internationally, and then of , of course, all the buddies.”
“Well, all of the artists knew each other. They were very friendly and very sharing with all of their secrets,” Wuthridge said.
Long before the sculptors, painters and free spirits moved into town, New Hope was a hub of commerce for Bucks County.
Two things drove the economy in the 1700s: transportation and water power.
“Because we had logging and different things with the mills here, silk mill, we had different industries operating here. And we had the canal,” said Keller. “The barges were coming up between Bristol, all the way up to Easton, and they were taking goods back and bringing goods down.”
By the time founder Benjamin Parry came to town around 1781, he owned mills on both sides of the Delaware River. When one of the mills burned down, he rebuilt, naming it New Hope Mills — giving his business and his town a brand new identity.
“When they rebuilt the mill, he then said, ‘there’s new hope for this town.’ so we then became New Hope, Pennsylvania,” said Keller.
Today the legacy of New Hope Mills lives on in the form of the Bucks County Playhouse, converted into a theater the 1930s when the building was facing possible demolition.
It was in continuous operation until 2010 when it was remodeled and reopened in 2012.
The art, the music, and the scenery continue to be draw for people to this day, looking to New Hope for a night of theater, food, and fun.
Locals say the reason they stay is because of the feeling.
“Well if you have a problem there are people that will step in and help you in any way they can. There’s a very caring group of people here,” said Wuthridge.
“New Hope is pretty special when you’re bordering the Delaware River and you still have the canal coming through town. It’s a nice place to live,” said Mayor Keller.