Princeton Merchants Association

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Historical Society of Princeton

The Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House located at 158 Nassau St. and Updike Farmstand at 354 Quaker Road are both open to the public free of charge Wednesday- Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m.; winter hours may vary. For further information, please call (609) 921-6748 

Princeton, New Jersey is one of the country's most historic communities. Settled in the late 17th century, Princeton produced two signers of the Declaration of Independence and was the site of one of the Revolutionary War's crucial battles. It served briefly as the nation's capital when the Continental Congress met in Princeton in 1783. A center for learning and culture since the colonial period, it has been home to world-renowned scholars, scientists, writers and statesmen. George Washington walked its streets and three other United States presidents, James Madison, Woodrow Wilson, and Grover Cleveland, lived in Princeton. Thomas Mann, T. S. Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in Princeton and actor Paul Robeson grew up here. World-renowned scientists Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer made the town their home. Throughout its history, Princeton has been a dynamic community. Each wave of immigrants to the United States, from early Irish and Germans to eastern Europeans and Italians at the turn of the century, brought an influx to Princeton. Later arrivals included World War II refugees, Hungarians, Koreans, Southeast Asians, Haitians, East Indians, and Guatemalans.

Historical Society of Princeton
The mission of the Historical Society of Princeton is to collect and preserve materials pertaining to the town and its environs, and to interpret the history of the area through exhibitions, educational programs, and publications. Since its founding in 1938, the Historical Society has amassed, recorded, and exhibited a collection of over 40,000 artifacts, manuscripts, photographs, decorative arts objects, artworks, and articles of clothing dating from the 17th century to the present, and has offered a broad range of educational services and activities to local residents, students, scholars, and visitors from around the world.

Programs
HSP presents walking tours, lectures, out-of-town trips, and educational programs for adults and school children. Every Sunday at 2pm, join a 1.9 mile guided walking tour of downtown Princeton and learn all about Princetons people, its architecture, and historical moments from an HSP-trained guide.
 
For a full calendar of events listing, please visit http://www.princetonhistory.org/programs-events
 
Exhibitions
Changing and permanent exhibitions are featured on the first floor of Bainbridge House and the Updike Farmhouse. Thought-provoking exhibitions examine a wide variety of historical and contemporary topics. Bainbridge Houses Princeton History Gallery provides a chronological look at people, places and events in Princetons history from the Lenape to the establishment of the College of New Jersey, to the achievements of African-American community leader Betsey Stockton to world-famous Albert Einstein. The Clarke and Updike Families at the Farmstead exhibition incorporates family photographs, memorabilia and maps to describe the history of the two predominant families to occupy the property.
 
For a listing of current exhibitions, please visit http://www.princetonhistory.org/exhibitions

Collections
At the heart of the Societys ability to serve the community are its important museum and library collections. Used by scholars, students, genealogists, architects, local business people and the general public, the collections document daily life in Princeton from early settlement to the 20th century. Items include furniture, paintings, clothing, household objects, photographs, maps, and manuscripts, and range from a 1760s tanners account ledger to a silver boudoir set owned by the daughter of Grover Cleveland. The Societys Einstein Furniture Collection includes 65 pieces of furniture owned and used by Albert Einstein while he lived in Princeton from 1933 to 1955. The Societys library and photo archives comprise more than 38,000 manuscripts, photographs, glass-plate negatives, maps, and architectural drawings. The extensive manuscript holdings include the papers of the Stockton and Olden families, two of the towns founding families; the papers of pioneering geologist Arnold Guyot; and the records of local organizations such as the Friendship Club, an early 20th-century African-American womens civic group.
For more information about collections, library research, and to access the digital database, please visit http://www.princetonhistory.org/collections

Bainbridge House
Built in 1766 by Job Stockton, a prosperous tanner and cousin of Richard Stockton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Bainbridge House is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Princeton and one of the areas best preserved examples of mid-Georgian architecture. Located on Nassau Street, the towns busiest and most historic thoroughfare, it is situated directly across from Princeton University. Bainbridge House has been home to several Stockton families; it was the birthplace of William Bainbridge, hero of the War of 1812; in 1783 it was listed as providing accommodations for the Continental Congress; during the late 19th century it served as a boarding house for university students; and for more than fifty years it was home to the public library. The exterior of Bainbridge House was restored by the Historical Society in 1969 to its original 18th-century appearance. Nearly 70% of the original interior woodwork remains, including original paneled walls and flooring. With the exception of circa 1814 alterations to the main parlor and a late 19th-century addition at the rear of the house, almost all of the 1766 structure remains. From 1991-1992, Bainbridge House underwent a complete renovation, with the addition of new structural supports, climate controls, new electrical work, and upgraded safety and security features. The interior trim was restored to original paint colors, the pine flooring was refinished, and portions of the brick facade were replaced with 18th-century bricks and repainted. An exterior ramp was installed for access by wheelchairs.
In 1967, the Historical Society established its headquarters in Bainbridge House, one of the finest surviving examples of Georgian architecture in the area, and since that time the building has served the public as both a museum and library. Its main floor comprises temporary and permanent exhibition spaces. The second and third floors house the library and photographic archives, as well as administrative offices and meeting rooms. The facilities of Bainbridge House also serve as an information center and the headquarters for the Societys far-reaching programs.

Updike Farmstead
The Historical Society of Princeton purchased the six-acre Updike Farmstead from the estate of Stanley Updike in 2004. The Farmstead consists of a late 18th/early 19th century farmhouse, a large barn built in 1892, wagon shed, corn crib, three-bay garage, garden sheds and chicken coops. After the purchase, careful plans were laid for the rehabilitation of the late 18th/early 19th century farmhouse and related sitework to accommodate expanded operations for the Historical Society. With initial support for the purchase of the Farmstead from the New Jersey Green Acres Program and the Mercer County Open Space Preservation Board, the Historical Society also received funding from the New Jersey Cultural Trust and from the New Jersey Historic Trust as well private foundations, corporations, and very generous individuals. The Historical Society partnered with the Princeton architectural firm of Farewell Mills Gatsch on the farmhouse rehabilitation from fall 2009 through 2010. 
The Farmstead is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places and contributes to the Princeton Battlefield/Stony Brook Settlement Historic District. Benjamin Clarke, an early Stony Brook settler, first owned the land as part of a 1200-acre parcel he purchased in 1696. The Farmstead is along the route followed by Continental troops on their way to engage British soldiers at the neighboring Thomas Clarke farm at Princeton Battlefield. The original Benjamin Clarke property, which was divided up over time, remained in the hands of his descendents for over 150 years. In 1892, George Furman Updike Sr. acquired approximately 190 acres of the original farmland and added buildings to the site, including a large barn. In 1969, the Updike family sold 184 acres of the property to the Institute for Advanced Study. Brother and sister, Stanley and Sarah Updike, continued to live on the remaining six acres until their deaths in 2002.

Preservation
Since 1989, the Historical Society of Princeton has recognized extraordinary efforts toward historic preservation in Princeton Borough and Princeton Township through its annual Preservation Awards. Past award winners have included the homeowners of such residences as Westland and Tusculum; local government agencies, including the State Division of Parks and Forestry; and educational institutions such as Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary.

Membership
The Historical Society of Princeton is a private, non-profit organization. Its activities are made possible through individual contributions, earned income and grants from corporations, foundations and government agencies. The largest single source of income for the Society is membership fees. In addition to supporting one of Princetons most important historical and educational resources, members enjoy the following benefits: free publications, free on-site use of the library, invitations to exhibition previews and special events, plus discounts on Society-sponsored programs, and out of -town trips.

Hours:  Wednesday - Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m

158 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08542   609-921-6748   www.princetonhistory.org 

 

PO Box 584   Princeton, NJ  08542        info@princetonmerchants.org

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