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Windmill Turns Again at Historical Society’s Updike Farmstead Site; Unity Garden Dedicated

AT THE UPDIKE FARMSTEAD: Celebrants at the recent dedication of the Sipprelle Unity Garden included (from left): Scott Sipprelle, Sonja Michaluk, Kristin Appleget, and Dudley Sipprelle

The reinstallation of a windmill at the Updike Farmstead was cause for celebration at a recent party hosted by The Historical Society of Princeton. Guests admired the handiwork of E&R Pumps and Windmills, a Bethel, Pennsylvania-based restorer, and viewed three new exhibitions in the farmhouse galleries, including early photographs of the windmill.

The Historical Society of Princeton purchased the six-acre Updike Farmstead from the estate of Stanley Updike in 2004. The original windmill was taken down in 2006 for safety reasons. Its recent restoration was underwritten by contributions from Steve and Treby Williams and Ann Lee Saunders Brown, and managed by architect Ronnie Bregenzer, who donated her time and services. Other contributors included Baxter Construction, and project engineer Harrison Hamnett. The pump house was refurbished by Sam Pirone.

“The windmill, which retains the original tank structure, is an iconic feature of the farmstead that will be the centerpiece for new environmental programs on site,” said Curator of Education Eve Mandel. These include the newly-dedicated Sipprelle Unity Garden.

The Unity Garden, which was made possible by a grant from Scott and Tracy Sipprelle, is now “at the core of education programs on health and wellness,” said Ms. Mandel. Some of the produce grown there is donated to area organizations; in October, for example, student volunteers from the Princeton Friends School harvested spring mix lettuce that was used in a Cornerstone Community Kitchen (CCK) dinner at the Princeton Methodist Church. More recently, guests at the windmill party pitched in with juice boxes and paper products that were donated to the CCK, which works in partnership with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.

“The Windmill Turns Slowly,” a 2005-2006 exhibition at the Society’s Bainbridge House location, featured photographs of the Homestead’s last working years, taken during the 1990s by Updike descendent Michael Johnson,

The history of the Updike farmstead dates back to 1890, when George Furman Updike and Mary Hartwick Updike settled on the site, which is located off Quaker Road.

Descending in the family line with George Furman Updike, Jr. and his wife Dora Drake Updike and their eight children, the farm was actively tilled until 1969, when grandsons Stanley and Sewell, sold the cropland to the Institute for Advanced Study with the understanding that the acreage would remain farmland. The Updike family retained six acres which included the farmhouse, barn, chicken coop, woodshed, corn crib, and orchard.

Through the 1990s, Stanley Updike and his sister, Sarah, maintained their farm routines. Stanley gathered eggs from the chicken coop, sprayed the peach trees, and split firewood. Sarah canned fruit, tended to the garden, and prepared their daily meals. The Historical Society of Princeton purchased the farm’s six acres from the family upon the deaths of Stanley and Sarah.

Updike Farmstead, which is currently open to the public one Saturday each month, will be open on December 15, from 12 to 4 p.m., when children will be invited to create a holiday card while parents browse the farmhouse galleries.

Quaker Road is open to Farmstead visitors from the Mercer Street side during open hours.

Other upcoming events at Bainbridge House include a December 28 commemoration of Woodrow Wilson’s birthday, 100 years after his election as president of the United States; a December 29 celebration of the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides) and her captain, William Bainbridge; and a “Battle of Princeton Walk” on January 5.

Bainbridge House is located at 158 Nassau Street. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m. To register for a program, call (609) 921-6748 ext. 102, or email eve@princetonhistory.org. Visitors to Bainbridge House through December 14 are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy that will help a child celebrate the season.

For more information, visit www.princetonhistory.org, or call (609) 921-6748 x102.

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