September 9, 2015

Cadwalader Heights House Tour Opens Diverse Homes and Gardens



When Erika Knudson left Bloomington, Indiana two years ago to join her husband after he landed a job as an art historian at Princeton University, she began scouring local real estate listings to see where they might be able to buy a home. Scrolling on line, she found herself returning to the same neighborhood, again and again.

“I just kept coming back to Cadwalader Heights,” said Ms. Knudson, who is now the associate director of marketing in the University’s Development Office. Her husband, Henry Schilb, works at the Index of Christian Art in the Department of Art and Archaeology. “I couldn’t get over how beautiful the houses were,” she recalled. “They were all so different from each other. Plus, they were affordable.”

The couple purchased a house in the Trenton neighborhood, joining a diverse group of proud homeowners devoted to their enclave of artists, writers, builders, ministers, designers, information technology professionals, business owners, accountants, teachers, realtors, curators, veterans, community activists, and more. There are 75 houses in this 31-acre corner of the capital city, and 11 of them will be open for this year’s Cadwalader Heights Home and Garden Tour on Saturday, September 12 from noon to 5 p.m., rain or shine.

The tour’s theme, “We Are Cadwalader Heights,” celebrates not only architecture and design, but the wide-ranging professions of its residents. Also prominently featured is food, with area restaurants including Palace of Asia, Malaga, Vincent’s Homemade Ice Cream, Cairo Cakes, Seasons 52, and Tea for All providing tastes and treats. A mid-tour ice cream stop will be set up in the garden of Eliz and Peter Yull.

Most of the homes in Cadwalader Heights were built in the early 20th century. Olmsted laid out the neighborhood, the only residential community credited to him in New Jersey. Houses cover a wide range of styles and sizes, from cottages on the small side to an immense, 22-room mansion overlooking the park. According to information from the Cadwalader Heights Civic Association, Olmsted’s vision was to design a neighborhood that would appeal to a diverse group of people and foster a strong sense of community. It did then, and it still does today.

In its manufacturing heyday, the area was home to local bigwigs. Early residents included the heads of several of the city’s potteries, as well as local builders, the principal of Trenton High School, and the candy maker William Allfather. Banker Mary Roebling lived in Cadwalader Heights for a few years. The neighborhood has also been home to former New Jersey Governor Richard J. Hughes and Judge Philip Forman.

Current residents include Mercer County Freeholder Sam Frisby, a producer for The Rachael Ray Show, an architect who has designed sets for Broadway shows, and an accomplished park and recreational facilities designer whose own garden is a multi-level oasis that borders the Delaware and Raritan Canal.

The neighborhood’s house tours started 25 years ago and have been held most years since then. A portion of the proceeds go to the non-profit I Am Trenton Community Foundation, which awards grants to agencies, organizations or individuals in Trenton that serve Trenton residents. The head count for visitors has ranged from 350 to 500 in previous years, and planners are hoping for even more this year.

“People are surprised to see this jewel of a neighborhood in Trenton,” said Ms. Knudson, who is chairing this year’s tour. “It has been a vibrant community since it was founded more than a century ago. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

In addition to the houses, the tour includes the Trenton City Museum in Ellarslie Mansion, inside Cadwalader Park; and the historic Cadwalader-Asbury United Methodist Church, at 900 Stuyvesant Avenue. Tickets are $20 in advance at the neighborhood website or $25 on the day of the tour. Registration is at the church, where there is free parking.