Nestled into a neighborhood overlooking Cadwalader Park, the homes of Trenton’s Cadwalader Heights have been attracting attention since the community began hosting annual tours of its Tudor, Georgian, Colonial Revival, Craftsman, and Mission-style homes more than two decades ago. The curved, tree-shaded streets form the only residential community in New Jersey to have been laid out by famed 19th century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed the park.
The neighborhood was home for decades to doctors, educators, and captains of industry. The current group of homeowners, who represent the arts, education, government, and other fields, are just as meticulous as their predecessors about maintaining and restoring their residences.
Their houses and gardens will be on display once again on Saturday, June 15, in a noon-to-5 p.m. event that encompasses art, food, even bee-keeping. After the house tour, participants can take a short drive over to Trenton’s historic Roebling Wire Works building for the annual Art All Night celebration. A portion of the proceeds from the tour go to the charitable organization Mercer Street Friends.
Among the homes on display is the 1919 Craftsman-style residence of landscape architect Randy Baum, on Ivy Court. Not surprisingly, the gardens that weave gracefully down to the Delaware and Raritan Canal are the show-stopper here, which is not to disparage the three-story, four-bedroom house. Mr. Baum and his late partner, artist Bob Harris, bought the property in 1986 and threw themselves into a major overhaul of its interior and exterior.
“It was pretty crusty,” Mr. Baum recalls with a laugh as he sips his morning coffee in the comfortable den off the living room. “But we were young. What did we know?” The partners began by throwing out just about everything that had been left in the house, and painting the walls white. Later, neighbors Kelly Ingram, a decorative painter, and Natalie Featherston, a trompe l’oeil artist, painted the interiors in rich greens and golds. Mr. Harris’s murals depicting Saint Sebastian are on the walls of the dining room.
The property was overgrown and unkempt when the partners moved in, but they could see its possibilities. “It was the view of the canal that sold us on the house,” Mr. Baum said, strolling down the bluestone steps he painstakingly put in, to the idyllic lawn by the water. Birdsong and breezes wafting through the trees are the only sounds here. This is Trenton?
“We hauled at least 50 bags of garbage from the back yard. We brought in tons of soil to make it level,” he said of one section of the property. Wrought iron tables and chairs are placed on different tiers, each with a distinctive design. Shade comes from oak and beech trees, primarily, with some hickory and linden thrown in.
The day lilies and hydrangeas should be in full bloom by the day of the tour. Visitors can also find Oregon grape holly, wiegela, itea, wisteria, and baptizia among the blossoms. “It took a couple of years to make,” Mr. Baum reflects. “It was a lot of work but it was worth it.”
There are 11 homes and several gardens on the Cadwalader Heights Historic House Tour, which will be held June 15 from noon-5 p.m., rain or shine. Plein air artists will be at work, Mercer County Master Gardeners will be on hand, and several restaurants and eateries including Cairo Cakes & Pastries, Chez Alice, Chocolate Lovers of Princeton, Palace of Asia, and Stoltzfus Family Bakery will be offering dessert tastings.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $20 the day of the tour. Visit www.cadwaladerheights.com for details.