June 16, 2021

Alternatives Can Satisfy PU’s Desire for Larger Facility for Science, Engineering

To the Editor:

As a Princeton University Engineering School alumnus, I have carefully considered the pros and cons of moving the former Court Club across Prospect Avenue, turning it sideways, and tearing down three functional and historic Victorian houses.

My conclusion is that there are perfectly good alternatives that will satisfy the University’s understandable desire for a larger and more up-to-date physical facility for science and engineering. For example, the majestic Court Club building can be kept just where it is, as a part of the historic architectural row of eating clubs on Prospect Avenue. Its interior can be renovated for offices and meeting spaces with new construction out the back. This is exactly what the University did with an excellent result on Washington Road, when it retained the beautiful former Frick Chemistry Building. It is now the entrance to the Louis Simpson International Building.

The municipality’s planning staff opposes the current plan. Last week the Town’s Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously to recommend against it.

On a personal note, I graduated in 1963 while the Court Club still functioned as an eating club. I had friends in the Club. I can only imagine their horror when returning for Princeton Reunions, trying to find their old club, and seeing that it had been orphaned and set apart from the other clubs. I also resent that my Annual Giving dollars might be used in such an unnecessary and community insensitive manner.

If you agree, please:

  1. sign the petition opposing the current University plan at change.org/saveprospect. At this writing over 800 of your neighbors have signed it.
  2. Attend the Planning Board meeting this Thursday, June 17, at 7:30 pm, and ask to speak during the public comments period.

John Heilner
Howe Circle