Saving a Classic Jersey Diner from the Wrecking Ball
Please help Isles, a Trenton-based nonprofit community development organization, preserve and restore this classic diner. Campaign funds will be used to relocate the diner to Hamilton, NJ, and convert it into unique classroom space for youth job training. We need to move the diner, stabilize the structure and then complete renovations before it can be put back into service. Just the cost of moving the diner out of harm's way is close to $20,000! Isles has teamed with a local developer, Modern Recycled Spaces, to save the classic “Calhoun Street Diner” from oblivion.
The once-gleaming stainless-steel eatery has sat vacant for decades on Route One in Lawrenceville, NJ. The site that the diner currently sits on is being cleared for a new shopping center. The diner will be relocated to Mill One, Modern Recycled Spaces' and Isles’ historic re-development project in Hamilton, and converted into unique classroom space for vocational training.
“It’s vital that we save this art-deco diner from the landfill,” said Isles’ President Marty Johnson. “And if we can return it to the Trenton and Hamilton area and restore it as the world’s most unique classroom for job training, it’s a win for everyone.”
“Kids and young adults will benefit from the restoration and reuse of this iconic diner,” said Mr. Johnson. “The first step was to save it. Now we need the community’s help to faithfully renovate it. We look forward to bringing this emblem of ‘50s Americana back to life.
“The Calhoun Street Diner is a classic part of New Jersey history and as American as apple pie,” said Daniel Popkin, President of Modern Recycled Spaces. “The protection and restoration of this 1950s icon is what Mill One and Modern Recycled Spaces are all about.”
The diner will be gently transported to its new home, the 200,000 square foot mixed-use re-development project known as Mill One. Mill One, a former luggage and clothing factory is located at the intersection of Nottingham Way and North Johnston Avenue in Hamilton. Isles and Modern Recycled Spaces will work to raise funds to restore the diner. “Mill One’s mission is to turn grand old structures into new spaces for start-ups, creative businesses and non-profits,” Popkin said. “We hope to use the diner to show how creativity can transform even the most dilapidated structures into novel work spaces.”
The diner is thought to have been built in the post-war period. Originally located on Calhoun Street in Trenton, it was moved to Lawrenceville in the 1960’s where it was named successively the Cass Diner, Giordano Diner, and Ben’s Diner.
According to The Trenton Times, it is “one of just five remaining diners in New Jersey built by the Mountain View Diner Co., a Little Falls company that operated from 1939 until 1957.” The company built some 400 pre-fab diners and its motto was: "A Mountain View Diner will last a lifetime."