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Bainbridge House has had many lives and has many tales to tell. Built in 1766 as a home for a wealthy member of the Stockton family, a familiar name in New Jersey, it is an attractive and solid looking house even today. It remained in the hands of that family for over 100 years, although it served many purposes during that time and afterward. It was leased to Dr. Absalon Bainbridge, and so it is that name which it is still identified by today. (Dr. Bainbridge's son, Commodore William Bainbridge, was born there in 1774. William Bainbridge was hailed as a hero of the War of 1812, in which he commanded the U.S.S. Constitution.)
During the late 19th century it served as a boarding house for Princeton students; beginning in 1910 it served as the Princeton Public Library; and in 1967 it became the home of the Princeton Historical Society.
To this day it retains most of its 1766 original physical structure including its staircase, and paneling. Today you will find that the downstairs has a small museum, which occupies several rooms, devoted to the history and artifacts of local Princeton history. You can spend about 30 minutes viewing the exhibits. The Historical Society's research library is free to members but charges a very nominal fee for non-members. The museum itself requests only a donation which benefits the Society. There is also a gift shop (and information desk) in the first room to the right of the entrance which carries a few items, a few postcards, and pamphlets for sale.
Guided walking tours of Princeton are available each Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00 pm costing $7 pp for adults. Tours begin at the Bainbridge House. The Self-Guided Walking Tour brochure, which costs $1 at the Historical Society, gives a brief history of Princeton and covers 16 separate sights which you can see at your own pace. Group walking tours or tours by bus can be arranged (probably at a discount).
The Bainbridge House is an excellent place from which to begin your tour of Princeton!!
Updated Oct 16, 2008
Address: 158 Nassau Street, Princeton
".......Sorry, Roger. You Tiger now!!"
Well, that quote may be from a funny commercial, but for me it kind of sums up how I felt when I visited Princeton University, home of the Princeton Tigers. Once I had seen this university and this town, I knew I would now forever be a fan of the Princeton Tigers.
Princeton, one of the eight Ivy League universities in America, wreathed in colors of orange and black, steeped in academic and social tradition, is the kind of place that appealed to me immediately!!
The university was chartered in 1746 as The College of New Jersey and kept that name for 150 years before it was officially changed to Princeton University in 1896. Today the university is also affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the Westminster Choir College of Rider University.
Did you know that the first ever collegiate football game played pitted Princeton against Rutgers University on November 6, 1869. The game, which was won by Rutgers 6 - 4, was played in New Brunswick, NJ.
The physicality of the university is surprisingly small, but then so is the student population of well under 10,000 students. There is mixed but appealing architecture on the grounds and the section of campus we saw is great for strolling around to admire it. We were particularly impressed with University Chapel and Chancellor Green. I will address these buildings in subsequent tips.
According to "Ivy Success Admission Strategists", the students entering Princeton next Fall are said to have an average combined SAT score of 2200. It does indeed take a carefully planned strategy for most students to be one of the fortunate few to be admitted to this elite institution!
Updated Oct 16, 2008
The history of Princeton goes back to its establishment by "New Light" Presbyterians; Princeton was originally intended to train Presbyterian ministers. It opened at Elizabeth, New Jersey, under the presidency of Jonathan Dickinson as the College of New Jersey. Its second president was Aaron Burr, Sr.; the third was Jonathan Edwards. In 1756, the college moved to Princeton, New Jersey. The university, unlike most American universities that were founded at the same time, did not have an official religious affiliation. At one time, it had close ties to the Presbyterian Church, but today it is nonsectarian and makes no religious demands of its students.
Princeton's campus features buildings designed by noted architects such as Benjamin Latrobe, Ralph Adams Cram, McKim, Mead & White, Robert Venturi, and Nick Yeager. The campus, located on 2 km² of landscaped grounds, features a large number of Neo-gothic-style buildings, most dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Written Jul 17, 2008
Points of interest:
1. Princeton Battle Monument. Monument Drive, Princeton 609) 921-0074
Unveiled in 1922 by President Warren Harding, it depicts General Washington on horseback, refusing defeat at the Battle of Princeton and inspiring his troops to victory.
2. Clarke House. 500 Mercer Street, Princeton in Princeton Battlefield SP(609) 921-0074
Built circa 1772, this Quaker house was where American General Hugh Mercer was carried after he was wounded. He died nine days later. The County was named in his honor.
Open Wednesday through Saturday; Sunday afternoon
3. Morven. 55 Stockton Street, Princeton (609) 683-4495
A national historic landmark, Morven was built in the 1750's by Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It served as Lord Cornwallis' headquarters, and until recently was the residence of New Jersey's governors.
Tours on Wednesday from 11am to 2pm
4. Nassau Hall. - Part of Princeton University, it was the largest academic structure in the thirteen colonies. The Battle of Princeton ended when Washington captured Nassau Hall, then serving as barracks. The Hall served as Capital of the United States for six months in 1783.
5. Monument to General Mercer.
6. Princeton Cemetery. Witherspoon and Wiggins Streets (609) 924-1369
Famous people buried here includes of Aaron Burr, Grover Cleveland, John Witherspoon, and Paul Tulane.
7. Quaker Meeting House. The first house of worship in Princeton (1726). Wounded from the Princeton Battlefield were brought here.
8. Stoney Brook Burial Ground. Has unmarked grave of Richard Stockton, one of New Jersey's signers of the Declaration of Independence.
9. Tablet marking road to Morristown.
10. Monument to British and American Soldiers.
11. Tusculum. Home of John Witherspoon -- in the suburbs of Princeton.
12. Battlefield Farm.
13. Castle Howard.
14. Beatty House.
15. First Presbyterian Church.
16. Prospect. Farmhouse of Colonel George Morgan.
The Princeton Battlefield has the historic Mercer Oak tree (photo 5), the colonnade monument, and a gravesite of 21 British and 15 American soldiers.
Updated Jul 3, 2008
If you've seen some of my other VT pages, you might remember that I have a thing for cemeteries. This one, which is officially the cemetery of the Nassau Presbyterian Church, is filled with historic gravesites of a number of prominent local figures. You can pick up a map and guide to the cemetery (basically a listing of the folks taking their permanent dirt naps here) at the Bainbridge House (see previous tip).
I thought it was interesting that there was a large number of Chinese names on the headstones, probably because the Presbyterian church was one of the first to heavily reach out to that demographic.
Updated Aug 8, 2005
Address: 29 Greenview Ave
The Princeton Historical Society is located in this historic (1766) Georgian style building on Nassau Street. It's free to stop in and check out their small exhibit of historical artifact which are mostly about local notables and interesting facts about the town of Princeton. There is also a small gift shop where it seems like Albert Einstein's likeness is by far the best seller.
Updated Aug 6, 2005
Address: 158 Nassau Street
Palmer Square is just across Nassau Street from the university and is a nice shopping and dining area full of unique places to spend some time. You will also find places to park here as well as a movie theater and a couple places to spend the night . It's definitely worth a stroll of an hour or so or a whole day if you plan to do some serious shopping.
Updated Aug 6, 2005
The Gothic University Chapel was the highlight of our self-guided campus tour. It was funny being here with Ed who is a graduate of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Being on another prestigious university campus brought out Ed's competitve nature and he wouldn't hear of me making any comparison's with this place and his beloved alma mater!
You can pick up a free brochure on the building inside. For me, the most impressive part of the chapel was its beautiful stained glass windows, but also take note of the intricate wood carvings.
Updated Aug 6, 2005
The Princeton campus is huge and it's pretty cool to stroll around. Check out my travelogue for a virtual tour of some of the things that we saw. Not pictured in the travelogue is Alexander Hall, which is definitely worth checking out. The outside of the building is beautiful and there is a huge auditorium inside. Also, check out the Princeton Art Museum (a couple buildings behind Whig Hall) and the Stadium.
You can arrange a tour by the volunteer group known as Orange Key, which has student guides. Call 609-258-1766 to make arrangements or just find a campus map and do it yourself like I did.
In this picture is the John Witherspoon statue in front of East Pyne. Witherspoon was the school's 6th president, a member of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Updated Aug 6, 2005
The Princeton Battle Monument is an interesting work of art that commemorates the Battle of Princeton, which took place on January 3, 1777 during the American Revolution. The monument was designed by Thomas Hastings and sculpted by Frederick MacMonnies and was ceremonially unveiled in 1922 by President Warren Harding. The large, imposing monument is located at the end of a long, tree and bench lined path and depicts General George Washington on horseback inspiring his troops to victory over the British.
Written Aug 6, 2005
Address: Monument Drive
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