The Institute for Advanced Study and the Civil War Trust yesterday jointly announced a plan to significantly expand the land that will be preserved adjacent to the current Princeton Battlefield State Park, while enabling the Institute to construct new housing for its faculty on its campus.
Under the plan, the Civil War Trust, through its Campaign 1776 initiative to protect Revolutionary War battlefields, will purchase 14.85 acres of land from the Institute for $4 million, to be conveyed to the State of New Jersey as an addition to the existing Princeton Battlefield State Park. The acquisition includes approximately 2/3 of the Maxwell’s Field property, along with an additional 1.12-acre tract north of the property that has been identified by historians as part of the battlefield.
To make this acquisition possible, the original footprint of the Institute’s faculty housing project will be reduced by replacing seven single family home lots with eight additional townhouses, for a total of 16, all located east of Gödel Lane on Maxwell’s Field. The new plan also avoids any development within the Princeton Battlefield National Historic Landmark boundary, designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1961.
The original Institute housing plan had most recently been reviewed and approved by the Princeton Planning Board and Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission in late 2014 and early 2015. The new compromise plan will require review and a vote by both entities. The agreement will not go into effect until all necessary project approvals have been received.
Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor at the Institute, joined James Lighthizer, the President of the Civil War Trust, in stating, “We are delighted to reach this agreement, which both meets the needs of the Institute and ensures the preservation of this site through an enlarged and revitalized Princeton Battlefield State Park.”
“This landmark agreement will enable us to preserve one of the defining moments in American history,” said Lighthizer. Noting that elements of George Washington’s famous counterattack at Princeton charged across Maxwell’s Field, he said, “We are pleased by this opportunity to work with the Institute for Advanced Study to save an important part of our Revolutionary War heritage.”
Dijkgraaf added, “As part of our original faculty housing plan, the Institute expressed a commitment to working with stakeholders in the preservation and commemoration of the Battle of Princeton and its role in the American Revolution. We are confident that this new plan and partnership will enhance the experience of the Park for all who visit. While we received the approval of the original housing plan design in 2012, we are pleased to have built upon the recommendations received then from noted historians and preservationists David Hackett Fisher and James McPherson in reaching this cooperative and mutually beneficial agreement with the Civil War Trust.”
Joining the Institute and the Trust in praising the agreement were several nonprofit heritage preservation organizations that have long supported the protection of Maxwell’s Field, including the Princeton Battlefield Society, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati.
“We have worked for decades to ensure that the Princeton Battlefield and the men who fought on this land 240 years ago are appropriately commemorated,” said Jerry Hurwitz, president of the Princeton Battlefield Society. “This agreement honors that commitment and guarantees that an historically significant part of the battlefield is preserved forever.”
Stephanie Meeks, president and chief executive officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, added: “We commend the Civil War Trust and the Institute for Advanced Study for their perseverance in developing this compromise solution that will facilitate the expansion of the Princeton Battlefield State Park. Saving Maxwell’s Field will enhance its power to educate and inspire future generations.”
“The preservation of the Princeton Battlefield is an achievement of national importance,” said Jack Warren, executive director of the Society of the Cincinnati. “Washington’s remarkable victory at Princeton stunned the British and opened the road that led to American independence. The Princeton Battlefield is a monument to courage, resourcefulness and stubborn determination— characteristics at the heart of our national identity.”
The target date for the transfer of the property to be sold to the Trust is the end of June 2017.
About the Battle of Princeton: The Battle of Princeton, fought January 3, 1777, was one of the most decisive battles of the American Revolution. It was the culmination of an audacious, 10-day campaign that began with George Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware on Christmas Day 1776. In a series of daring maneuvers, Washington succeeded in attacking isolated elements of the British army. His decisive counterattack at Princeton marked his first victory over British regulars in the field, and revitalized the cause of American independence.
About the Institute for Advanced Study: The Institute, founded in 1930, is a private, independent academic institution located in Princeton, New Jersey. Its more than 6,000 former Members hold positions of intellectual and scientific leadership throughout the academic world. Thirty-three Nobel Laureates and 41 out of 56 Fields Medalists, as well as many winners of the Wolf and MacArthur prizes, have been affiliated with the Institute. The Institute’s website is www.ias.edu.
About the Civil War Trust: The Civil War Trust is America’s premier nonprofit battlefield preservation organization. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, through its Campaign 1776 initiative, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 43,000 acres of battlefield land in 23 states. The Trust’s website is www.civilwar.org.