Environmental science

Princeton Council Considers Prospect Ave. Historic District Proposal

PRINCETON, NJ — After much controversy and discussion last year, Council is considering a proposal to establish the “Prospect Avenue Historic District.”

This comes after the Princeton Planning Board unanimously approved the proposed district in January, and the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission unanimously recommended the district on November 15 last year.

Historian Clifford Zink made a presentation on behalf of the Princeton Prospect Foundation (PPF), introducing the proposal for creating the historic district between Washington Road and Murray Place, which encompasses the famed Princeton University eating clubs. ReadMore: Will Princeton’s Prospect Ave Historic District Plan Go Forward?

The eating clubs were at the center of controversy much of last year when the University announced its plan to raze three Victorian homes and move the Court Clubhouse, a former eating club currently on 91 Prospect Avenue to make way for Environmental Science (ES) and School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) building. ReadMore: Princeton U. Prospect Ave Plan Not Endorsed At Special Meeting

During the recently-held Council meeting, Zink provided details of the boundaries of the proposed district and its key architectural features. The proposal includes 17 current and former eating clubs, two residences, the Ferris Thompson wall and gate.

At the request of Princeton University, 91 Prospect Avenue will be outside the proposed historic district. He said the university agreed to include the Ferris Thompson wall and gate in the historic district proposal. Years ago, the University took down the upper ironwork at the gate because it was in “poor shape.” But the University is currently working on a restoration project for the ironwork, Zink said.

The Ferris Thompson wall and gate, built in 1911, was designed by McKim, Mead & White and was originally the entrance to the athletic fields, and the annual “P-rade” used to march through these gates. “These are very important historic designs that indicate the history of Prospect Avenue,” Zink said.

Zink told Council that the district would be considered a “type two” historic district that will require the Historic Preservation Commission’s approval for modification. Meanwhile, the eating clubs can renovate inside the houses or parts of the property not visible to the street.

During the meeting, Sandy Harrison of the PPF told Council that there was no resistance from any property owners within the district and that there was “affirmative supportive” for the establishment of the historic district.

Councilwoman Eve Niedergang said that her favorite part of the report was on “the role of our local African American community in the eating clubs,” and commended Zink’s presentation for bringing out “the architectural element and human element” of the historic district.

Planning Director Michael La Place explained that the next step in the approval process would be for Council to formally draft an ordinance to create the historic district.

Several residents spoke during the public portion and expressed support for the creation of the historic district. Council will consider an ordinance at a meeting yet to be announced.


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