January 11, 2023

Rider’s Princeton Campus Gains Variety of Temporary New Tenants

By Donald Gilpin

Rider University’s Princeton campus, formerly the home of Westminster Choir College (WCC), is certainly not as lively these days as it was before WCC was moved to Rider’s Lawrence Township campus two years ago, but there are definitely signs of life and even the sound of music emanating from the Walnut Lane campus.

Rider merged with WCC in 1992 and since 2017 has been trying to sell the 22-acre Princeton campus, but ongoing litigation continues to attempt to bring the WCC back to Princeton and block any land sales. 

Meanwhile the Westminster Conservatory, Rider’s community music school, continues to operate on the campus, offering a wide range of music lessons, classes, recitals, and other performance opportunities, “welcoming young musicians of all ages, skill levels, instrument preferences, and economic backgrounds,” according to the Westminster Conservatory website.

Sounding forth from the former Talbott Library on campus are the voices and instruments of the early childhood Music Together classes.  “It feels good to be using Westminster for what it was intended — beautiful,” said Sarah Orfe, director of the Music Together Princeton Lab School, which started up in its new home on the Rider Westminster campus on January 9. 

Music Together occupies two joined-together, garden-level classrooms in what used to be a computer laboratory and will be holding seven morning and three afternoon classes each week. 

Music Together, which originated in Princeton 35 years ago, according to Orfe, now operates in 41 different countries. It has seven different locations in just the Mercer County area.

Also on the Rider Princeton campus is the American Repertory Ballet (ARB), which is using space there as a supplement to its facility at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC), where ARB is a resident company. Princeton Ballet School, the official school of ARB, offers classes at its locations at the Princeton Shopping Center, on Main Street in Cranbury, and at the NBPAC.

Another tenant on Rider’s Princeton campus is the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra, and Rider is using some of the rehearsal spaces and classrooms for a small number of WCC students. It has also been leasing a parking lot on campus for permit parking used by employees of local businesses and Princeton Public Schools.