This Saturday past, we went into Princeton and spent the entire day wandering around the University and surrounds. It was to be just the kids and me as Jersey girl had to work.
Our first stop was a locale I’ve been hankering to visit for some time, the former home of the eminent physicist Albert Einstein.
This modest home, just a short walk from the centre of town, belies the stature of the man who dwelt here from 1935 until his death in 1955. During those years Einstein could often be seen walking the streets of Princeton and a great many important people (including Presidents and Prime ministers) visited him at this very house.
I was surprisingly affected by the encounter despite the fact that the house is not open to the public (it’s a private residence). It might have been fancy on my part but the house, little more than a cottage really, seemed still to resonate with the personality of the great man who once inhabited it.
From there we made our way through the grounds of the University. Middle child was introduced to the concept of the cloister and was immediately besotted.
The architecture of this Ivy League University is, like most such institutions, a mixture of barely compatible styles ranging from High Victorian Gothic through Richardsonian Romanesque to modern.
The oldest building on the grounds is Nassau Hall. This was the original building finished in 1756, it was heavily damaged during the Battle of Princeton in 1777 when Washington turned his cannons upon it to drive out Brittish troops who had occupied it.
For a time after war’s end, during which Princeton was the capital of the entire country, Nassau Hall Library played host to the newly formed American government. According to Princeton University, “Here Congress congratulated George Washington on his successful termination of the war, received the news of the signing of the definitive treaty of peace with Great Britain, and welcomed the first foreign minister—from the Netherlands—accredited to the United States.”
Next door to ‘Old Nassau’ is The President’s House, also known as the John Maclean House. This fine old example of Colonial Georgian architecture was built in the same year as the Hall.
A much younger set of buildings known collectively as John D. Rockefeller 3rd College, or “Rocky” are located at the northwestern corner of the Princeton campus. These are quite beautiful (despite their evil namesake) and are mostly in the Collegiate Gothic style. Five hundred freshmen and sophomores call this college home.
I’m not entirely sure what delineates English Gothic from Collegiate Gothic but if I were to guess which this Hampton Court imitation comes under, I’d say English.
That’s all for this post. Part 2 tomorrow.
Words and images are my own.