July 25, 2018

Princeton AlumniCorps Gets Grant To Restore Historic Headquarters

By Anne Levin

Princeton prizes its buildings designed by 19th-century architect, carpenter, and developer Charles Steadman. Thanks to a recent historic preservation grant, the Steadman-built house at 12 Stockton Street is about to receive some TLC.

Princeton AlumniCorps, which is headquartered in the building, has received $15,000 from The 1772 Foundation, which partnered with the New Jersey Historic Trust to distribute $293,786 this year to 12 organizations. Princeton AlumniCorps, which purchased the building 18 years ago, received the maximum grant amount, designated for repair and restoration of its exterior.

“Our very generous donors set up a fund when we moved here, which has allowed us to maintain necessities,” said Kef Kasdin, Princeton AlumniCorps president and executive director. “But there are certain things that are beyond necessities, and this grant is helpful for that.”

Work on the building will include repair and painting of the trim, and upgrading of the driveway. “A lot of tours go by here, so it’s important that we look our best,” said Kasdin, who has led the organization since last summer. “This will make a difference.”

Kasdin, whose daughter Izzy Kasdin is executive director of the Historical Society of Princeton, said the building was built as a residence. “Then it was a boarding house for awhile, in the 1940s and 50s, according to some old articles we found,” she said. “Then it got rezoned for business use. It was used for the mayor’s office at one point. And the former Borough used it while Borough Hall was being renovated.”

Steadman’s style incorporated Federal and Greek Revival elements. The house at 12 Stockton Street is in the landmarked Princeton Historic District and dates back to 1824. It is one of approximately 40 Steadman properties still standing in town. Others include Miller Chapel at Princeton Theological Seminary; 72 Library Place, once home to Woodrow Wilson; and buildings on Alexander and Mercer streets.

Princeton AlumniCorps is “a multi-generational network of Princeton University alumni and nonprofits working to build communities and deepen social impact,” according to its website. The organization uses 12 Stockton Street for office space and programs. A staff of nine works in the building, which is also home to the organization Volunteer Connect.

Kasdin said the organization hopes to raise additional funding to make its entrance and bathrooms ADA-compliant, and to upgrade the kitchen and conference room. “We want to bring it into the 21st century. We want to be able to use video conferencing equipment that we’ve gotten, which will expand our ability to do what we do,” she said, referring to a previous grant from The Hyde and Watson Foundation designated for that purpose.

The grant from The 1772 Foundation is part of a series of steps to upgrade the historic building. “We have a grand vision,” Kasdin said. “What we want is to make this a real community resource. This grant is a piece of that.”

The Watershed Institute (formerly the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association) in Pennington also received $15,000 to restore the Andrew Drake Farmstead house on the property.