To the Editor:
With heartfelt thanks and on behalf of a grateful community, members of the Witherspoon Jackson Historic District Committee (WJHDC), wish to acknowledge Mayor Liz Lempert and members of Princeton Council for making the WJ Neighborhood the 20th Historic District in Princeton. We also want to acknowledge Elizabeth Kim, Julie Capozzoli, and the entire Historic Preservation Commission for their advocacy, leadership, and commitment in search of truth, fairness, and equality.
Historically a segregated neighborhood, the WJ Community today is Princeton’s most affordable, culturally diverse, and eclectic area of town. It is a warm and welcoming village of interesting homes, people, places, and businesses. Our vision is to use this foundation to make the neighborhood more livable, friendlier, more beautiful, more fun, and more desirable.
We understand that while many were in favor of the historic designation, there were those who were opposed. We are calling on all residents, to ask for their input, ideas, support, and cooperation regardless of the position you may have held. The fact is, we as neighbors should focus on our similarities rather than our differences as we work together for what is best for our community. We all now reside and/or own property in an historic district and should take pride in that fact. We also believe that “taking ownership” of our newfound status is critical. Communication can make the neighborhood more responsive to homeowners and residents, and being organized will serve us better when working with municipal leadership on present and future plans such as zoning, variances, and site planning. Our neighborhood is now and will continue to be a work in progress. We can and will have a say in its continued development … how it looks, how it feels, and how it grows.
We are also very interested in identifying and working with landlords and the municipality to be more accountable to quality of life issues, being good neighbors, maintenance and upkeep of properties and curbside appeal. To that end, during the month of August we are planning to work in conjunction with the Joint Effort Safe Street Project and the municipality on a WJ Weekend Cleanup Campaign. We hope to engage the entire neighborhood in weeklong events that will celebrate WJHD, and include an art exhibition, community forums, an historic walking tour, block party, and youth sporting events. Witherspoon Street was once, and will again be a promenade with unique shops, boutiques, outdoor cafes, and other amenities that will serve the interests of residents and visitors alike. As an extension of Nassau Street, the central business district, and upper Witherspoon Street, the neighborhood will welcome walkers, bike-riders, joggers, and tourists who will experience the history and story of a proud neighborhood and its people. It will present a unique perspective of an historic district within one of America’s most historic towns. We look forward to continuing our journey from the past, through the present, and into the future for both our beloved neighborhood and the town of Princeton.
Shirley Satterfield, Daniel A. Harris,
Yina Moore, John Heilner, Thomas Parker, Bernadine Hines, Kip Cherry,
Jacqueline Swain, Leighton Newlin
The Witherspoon Jackson Historic District Committee