June 19, 2024

GROOMING THE GARDENS: Volunteers from the Garden Club of Princeton, Friends of Princeton Open Space, Sustainable Princeton, and the community recently began working with botanists and ecologists from WildLawn to remove invasive plants surrounding the Princeton Battle Monument and replace them with a variety of natives. (Photo courtesy of Sustainable Princeton)

By Anne Levin

Thursday, June 6 was the first official workday of a collaborative project aimed at revitalizing the garden beds surrounding the Princeton Battle Monument.

Located just steps away from Morven, which is certain to be a focal point of the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Monument Park is likely to be a much-visited location once the celebrations begin.

“Since one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence [Richard Stockon] lived at the Morven house, we expect many visitors to be coming through this part of town,” said Sarah Ringer, who with Jody Erdman led a group of neighbors, known unofficially as the Friends of Monument Park, on the project along with Sustainable Princeton, Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), and the Garden Club of Princeton. WildLawn of Bucks County, Pa., was hired to lead the project. more

THE SHORT LIFE OF A PRINCETON LEGEND: The three-episode podcast “Searching for Hobey Baker” explores previously unreported aspects of the famed athlete’s life, including his struggles as a queer man in the early 20th century.

By Anne Levin

It would be hard to find a hockey fan who isn’t familiar with legendary Princeton University alumnus Hobey Baker. The golden-haired athlete, who excelled at football as well as hockey before graduating in 1914, was a superstar of his time. Collegiate hockey’s most prestigious award bears his name, as does the University’s 2,092-seat ice rink.

Fellow Princetonian F. Scott Fitzgerald idolized Baker, writing him into his novel This Side of Paradise. Tragically, Baker died at the age of 26 after a plane he was piloting crashed mysteriously, just before he was to return home from Europe during World War I.

Theories about that crash are just one focus of “Searching for Hobey Baker,” a podcast released June 12 as part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series. The three episodes, narrated by actor and Princeton graduate David Duchovny, also delve into the nature of Baker’s relationship with the extremely wealthy Percy Rivington Pyne II, son of financier and University benefactor Moses Taylor Pyne. Nine years Baker’s senior, Pyne II was obsessed with the athlete and invited him to live in his Gilded Age mansion. more

FAMILY HARMONY: Dr. Rosemarie Scolaro Moser celebrated a recent birthday by appearing in a world premiere choral performance of “The Stone” at Richardson Auditorium with members of her family. From left are daughter Rachel Moser Vassak, Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, granddaughter Serena Vassak, son Alex Moser, and Tim Keyes.

By Anne Levin

When Dr. Rosemarie Scolaro Moser started thinking about how she wanted to celebrate an upcoming significant birthday, material gifts did not come to mind. Moser, who is the director of Princeton Neuropsychology, was considering something more meaningful.

Moser asked her daughter, son, and granddaughter — all singers — to join her as part of the chorus in a performance of the Tim Keyes Consort, which took place on June 15 at Richardson Auditorium. The concert included the world premiere of The Stone, by Keyes, who founded the ensemble 29 years ago.

“Our true legacy is found in the multiple generations of our families who have come to be part of the Consort,” Keyes said in a speech at the performance. “Tonight, however, is a first, as one of our longtime members, Rosemarie Moser, is here with three generations of her family on stage tonight. Additionally, she joins us on the eve of a significant birthday, so I think it only appropriate that we join in singing happy birthday to her.” more

June 12, 2024

By Anne Levin

Nearly a century ago, it was possible to travel by trolley between Trenton and Princeton. The trip cost 10 cents and took 35 minutes.

The Johnson Trolley, also known as the Princeton-Lawrenceville-Trenton Fast Line, took travelers between Witherspoon Street near Nassau Street and North Willow Street in Trenton. The Trenton-Princeton Traction Company ran the trolley through this corridor from 1902 to 1940.

In recent years, it has been known as the Johnson Trolley Trail, part of the vast regional network of Circuit Trails used for biking, walking, and running. It is the subject of a public Zoom session being held Wednesday, June 12 from 6-8 p.m. by Mercer County and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

The purpose is to introduce the study and share preliminary routes to be considered that would extend the northern and southern sections of the Johnson Trolley Trail Corridor. Soliciting feedback from the public is a goal of the session. more

CAMPUS CHRONICLER: This photo of workers sorting books at Princeton University is among those on display at “Credit Line, Please,” an exhibit of photos by Elizabeth Menzies, on view at the Seeley Mudd Library through April 2025.

By Anne Levin

From 1936 until the late 1960s, it was rare to find an issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly (PAW) that didn’t feature a photo — usually on the cover — by Elizabeth Menzies. The photographer’s contributions, a selection of which are on display at the University’s Seeley Mudd Library starting Thursday, June 13, represent a visual chronicle of Princeton University through the decades.

“Credit Line, Please” features photos on Mudd Library’s walls and display cases. Curators Phoebe Nobles, Emma Paradies, and Rosalba Varallo Recchia, who work at Princeton University Library, wanted to celebrate the woman whom Princeton history professor Julian Boyd said had “the intellect of a scholar, the heart of a concerned citizen, and the hand of an artist.” more

By Anne Levin

Alexis Peart
(photo by Stephen Laschever)

When Mozart’s comic opera Cosi fan tutte is staged by the Princeton Festival this coming weekend, there is likely to be a substantial cheering section for the mezzo soprano taking the role of Dorabella.

She is Alexis Peart, and her artistic roots in the local area run deep. In fact, the accomplished 26-year-old opera singer cites her first operatic experience as a member of the children’s chorus at the Princeton Festival — in Carmen one year, and La Boheme the next.

Peart grew up in Titusville, in the house where her mother still lives. She studied voice, cello, flute, and violin at Westminster Conservatory of Music. She took classes at Princeton Ballet School. Her family attended Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church.

“Coming back here to perform is a very ‘kismet’ journey, and I’m so excited about it,” Peart said during a telephone interview last week. “With all that I have been doing, I haven’t been able to perform in proximity to where I grew up. I understand that a huge group from the church are coming. And of course, my mom is coming to all three shows.” more

June 5, 2024

HONORING HER DEDICATION: Former Mayor Liz Lempert, in pink dress, was celebrated May 22 by members of Princeton Council, Mayor Mark Freda, and members of the municipal staff with a commemorative tree planting and plaque outside Witherspoon Hall.

By  Anne Levin

Among the most significant events in Princeton’s recent history was the 2013 consolidation of the former Township and Borough into a single entity. Serving as mayor when measure went into effect, and for the ensuing eight years, was Liz Lempert, who was recognized by the town on May 22 with a tree planting and plaque in her honor.

The tree is outside Witherspoon Hall, where Lempert was in office for two terms ending in 2020. On hand were Mayor Mark Freda, Princeton Council President Mia Sacks, and Councilmembers Eve Niedergang, David Cohen, Leighton Newlin, and Michelle Pirone Lambros, along with members of the municipal staff. more

A LIFE WELL LIVED: The late Isabella de la Houssaye, left, continues to inspire friends like her Princeton University classmate Sara Singer, right, who will take part in a bike ride in August to raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. De la Houssaye is also being honored by Team Bella, a group of her family members and friends, who will participate in The Watershed Institute’s 2024 Solstice Trail Run on June 20.

By Anne Levin

Isabella de la Houssaye never smoked. The Lawrenceville resident and 1986 graduate of Princeton University was fitter than just about anyone her age or younger.

That made her diagnosis of stage four lung cancer in 2018 especially shocking.

But rather than give in to the rigors of chemotherapy, de la Houssaye — a mother of five, corporate lawyer, business owner, and dedicated endurance athlete — immersed herself, during punishing treatments, in running marathons, climbing mountains, and competing in triathlons. She was determined to make a difference and live her life to the fullest, which she did before passing away last December. more

By Anne Levin

When Nassau Presbyterian Church launched an effort to preserve and digitize the records of Princeton Cemetery, which is owned by the church, those involved never imagined it would take a full 10 years to complete.

But a decade has passed, and the mapping, photographing, and creation of an interactive, web-based record is now complete. To mark this milestone, the church is hosting a guided tour of the historic graveyard on Witherspoon Street on Saturday, June 15, at 10 a.m.

“The cemetery is the final resting place of most of the presidents of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, as well as a signer of the Declaration of Independence, scholars and theologians, veterans beginning with the Revolutionary War, novelists, philanthropists, a Nobel Laureate, and a Pulitzer Prize-winner, as well as many others who have called the Princeton area home,” reads a release from the church. more

May 29, 2024

By Anne Levin

The official first day of summer isn’t until June 22. But in Princeton, the season unofficially begins each year on Memorial Day weekend with the opening of Community Park Pool.

Despite some wet weather on Monday, opening weekend saw healthy crowds. “Saturday and Sunday were terrific,” said Evan Moorhead, the town’s director of recreation. “We had over 1,000 people each day. Memorial Day got off to a nice start, though the rain put a damper on things a little later.”

Designed in the 1960s, the pool received a major $6 million overhaul just over a decade ago. Keeping it in top shape “is literally almost a year-round operation,” said Moorhead. “Between the upkeep and the maintenance, there is very little time when we’re not doing something.” more

COLLABORATIVE CELEBRATION: The Schenck Farmstead is the site of a festival on Sunday, June 2, a joint effort of the Historical Society of West Windsor and Plainsboro’s Wicoff House Museum.

By Anne Levin

Until a few decades ago, much of West Windsor and Plainsboro was taken up by acres of farmland. These fields and pastures have since been turned into housing developments, at a rate that can give area historians pause.

But remnants of the rural past still exist. In a first-time collaboration, two history museums will present “Farm Day at the Museum” on Sunday, June 2 from 1-4 p.m. at the historic Schenck Farmstead. The free festival will include museum tours, a petting zoo, crafts for children, agricultural demonstrations, and more. more

By Anne Levin

Back in 1859, the Union Industrial Home for Children was founded in Trenton. What was originally an orphanage is today an organization devoted to helping men gain and meet the responsibilities of fatherhood.

The Father Center of New Jersey’s free programs serve some 1,800 fathers a year. Offices in Trenton and Burlington have recently been joined by a location in Camden, and plans are to expand further across New Jersey.

In the meantime, a Father’s Day-focused party is in the works. On Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., The Father Center hosts Father Family Fun Day and the 19th annual Platinum Dads Awards, honoring several notable fathers, at We Make, 109 Route 31 north in Pennington. In addition to the ceremony, there will be a moon bounce, refreshments, games, dancing, and family-friendly activities.

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May 22, 2024

By Anne Levin

Now that the May 23 special meeting of the Princeton Planning Board devoted to the proposal for a 15-unit apartment building in the Jugtown Historic District has been postponed, residents who oppose the plan and the developer in favor of it will have to wait until a future meeting is scheduled before a final decision on the project is reached.

The Princeton Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) spent two nights last week, May 13 and 14, listening to testimony from both sides of the issue, ultimately recommending that the Planning Board turn down the proposal as presented. The developer, 344 Nassau LLC, has proposed to build an attachment to the rear of the 18th-century Joseph Hornor House at 344 Nassau Street, which was recently recognized by Preservation New Jersey as one of the 10 most endangered historic buildings in New Jersey. The project would include three units that are designated as affordable. more

CELEBRATING 30 YEARS: Lisa Lonie, Princeton University carillonneur, has planned a special summer season of performances by carillonneurs from all over the world. The festival, titled “Music that Paints the Silence,” marks three decades of concerts for the public outside Cleveland Tower on the Graduate College campus. (Photo by David Kelly Crow)

By Anne Levin

On most Sundays starting at 1 p.m., a sound described as “wind chimes on steroids” rings out across the area surrounding Princeton University’s Graduate College campus. On a good day, “It can go up to half a mile,” said Lisa Lonie, the woman often responsible for creating that sound.

Lonie is Princeton University’s fourth University carillonneur, and its first female. On the job since 2012, she is the principal player of the school’s 70-year-old carillon, an instrument that produces music by the striking of its 67 bronze bells — the largest of which weighs 12,880 pounds. Housed in a console room atop the Cleveland Tower, the instrument is one of only about 180 manually played carillons in North America. It was dedicated in 1927 by the University’s class of 1892, and is part of the program of University Chapel Music. more

FREEDOM THROUGH LITERATURE: New Jersey Department of Corrections Commissioner Victoria L. Kuhn, left, and poet and Freedom Reads founder and CEO Reginald Dwayne Betts admire a new bookcase in a housing wing of Garden State Correctional Facility.

By Anne Levin

Before he graduated from Yale Law School and became a MacArthur Fellow, Reginald Dwayne Betts spent nine years in prison after pleading guilty to carjacking. He was only 16. It was the availability of books, and the engagement with literature, that got him through those years without crushing his spirit.

An award-winning poet, Betts was a resident artist at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts in 2021. In a new connection with the University, Betts’ national nonprofit Freedom Reads has just opened nine Freedom Libraries at Garden State Correctional Facility, a state prison for adults in Chesterfield, Burlington County. Princeton University Library is a supporter. more

May 15, 2024

By Anne Levin

Testimony was set to continue at Witherspoon Hall Tuesday evening on an application for a 15-unit addition to the Joseph Hornor House, an 18th century property at the corner of Nassau and Harrison streets that was recently listed by Preservation New Jersey as one of the 10 most endangered historic places in New Jersey.

Some 40 people, many of whom live in the Jugtown Historic District where the house is located, attended Monday’s 5 p.m. special meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to express their views on the proposed project. Because Princeton Council was to meet in the room at 7 p.m., the HPC ran out of time before any of them had an opportunity to speak. With this in mind, the commission scheduled a second meeting for 5 p.m. Tuesday, after press time, without a time limit. more

By Anne Levin

At its meeting on Monday evening, May 13, Princeton Council held a work session on the 2024 Bicycle Facilities Implementation Plan. Assistant Municipal Engineer Jim Purcell talked about how to work elements of the Master Plan Bicycle Mobility Plan into programs that are taking place to resurface roads, make capital improvements, and repave sidewalks.

“We have some opportunities this year,” he said. “PSE&G’s gas system modernization project is underway. Twelve miles of gas mains are being replaced, so they are tearing up the roadways.”

PSE&G is required to replace existing markings on the roadways, and will be asked to add some new ones. “Given limited resources, we want to implement these elements when we can,” Purcell said. “With all the construction and PSE&G work, this is an opportunity.” more

May 8, 2024

By Anne Levin

With Princeton’s Historic Preservation Commission set to review a development application for the Joseph Hornor House at 344 Nassau Street next week, the recently announced inclusion of the property on Preservation New Jersey’s “10 Most Endangered Historic Places” list comes at an opportune moment for those opposed to the housing development proposed for the site.

“We are delighted that Preservation New Jersey has recognized the Joseph Hornor House at 344 Nassau Street to be an irreplaceable historic resource in New Jersey, and is in imminent danger of being lost,” said Catherine Knight, who lives in the Jugtown neighborhood where the property is located, and is active in efforts to prevent the development from being approved. “To allow a massive addition behind and partially on top of the single most important and pivotal building at the Jugtown crossroads will endanger the survival of the Jugtown Historic District.”

Selections for Preservation New Jersey’s annual listing of endangered properties are based on historic significance and architectural integrity, as well as “the critical nature of the threat identified, and the likelihood that inclusion on the list will have a positive impact on efforts to protect the resource,” according to a statement from the organization.

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ALMOST READY: What used to be Princeton’s post office in Palmer Square has been transformed into the sleek new location of Triumph Brewing Company. Four separate architectural firms were involved in the effort. (Photo by Anthony Stull)

By Anne Levin

The opening of Triumph Brewing Company, relocated from Nassau Street to the former post office at Palmer Square, has been scheduled for mid-to-late June. A report on the long-awaited project was the focus of a Zoom “meetup” held last Thursday by the nonprofit Experience Princeton.

Kevin Wilkes of Princeton Design Guild, one of four architectural firms involved in the project, said that it has taken so long — 39 months of extensive restorations, rebuilding, and rehabilitation — due to years of federal maintenance neglect. The 90-year-old building has been transformed in an adaptive reuse project that involved restoration of some parts of the former post office, and a complete redesign of others. The entire building was gutted and all systems were replaced to house the restaurant’s dining rooms, bars, and brewery equipment. The budget for the project was not mentioned in the presentation.

Triumph’s former location at 138 Nassau Street closed during the pandemic.

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Winnie Holzman

By Anne Levin

In the nine years since the first staging of Winnie Holzman’s play Choice and the production that opened this week at McCarter Theatre, the issues the play examines, especially a woman’s right to choose, have changed — to say the least.

So Holzman, a successful dramatist for theater (Wicked), television (thirtysomething, Once and Again, My So-Called Life) and film (two soon-to-be-released adaptations of Wicked), has made some tweaks to the play. The comedy runs through June 2 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre.

“It was done in Boston at the Huntington [Theater Company] and I’m very grateful to have had that production. It taught me a lot,” Holzman said during a phone interview this week. “But the pandemic happened, and Roe v. Wade fell. The play now takes place during the shutdown. I have rewritten it a lot, but it has the same characters and the same ideas. I felt there was a lot to address that is new.”

A 1976 graduate of Princeton University, Holzman started ruminating about the issues that would lead to Choice about 16 years ago, when she was in between projects. Why, she wondered, had nobody written a play about the subject already? She posed the question to her daughter, then a recent college graduate and now a writer herself.

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May 1, 2024

By Anne Levin

At its meeting on Monday night, April 29, Princeton Council was given a progress report on the town’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), which was adopted in 2019 to reduce carbon emissions and help the community become more climate-resilient. Sustainable Princeton, which has been leading the effort, delivered the presentation.

Among other items on the agenda was the adoption of a resolution appointing nine members to the Princeton Advisory Committee on Affordable Housing, Human Services, and Racial, Social and Economic Equity. The committee was formed after the controversial consolidation in January of the former Civil Rights Commission, Human Services Commission, and Affordable Housing Board.

Council also passed ordinances related to loading zones and parking on Chambers Street once construction of the Graduate Hotel is completed, and license agreements for the new Hermes and Faherty stores, among other issues. Resolutions included a shared service agreement with Princeton Public Library for information technology services, a consulting agreement for community solar development, a contract for bicycle-safe grates and curb piece faceplates, and an urban tree canopy assessment. more

NEVER TOO LATE: Residents of Maplewood at Princeton have been taking piano lessons from 15-year-old high school sophomore Pranayaa Jeyaraman, who was among those honored last week for their volunteer work.

By Anne Levin

Pranayaa Jeyaraman has been taking piano lessons since she was in first grade. Since February, the Woodbridge Academy Magnet School sophomore has been spending some of her time at the keyboard with enthusiastic students who happen to be decades her senior.

They are residents of the senior living community Maplewood at Princeton, and they study with the Monroe Township resident on Saturday afternoons. Results have been so positive that Pranayaa was among those honored last Saturday, April 27, at an appreciation luncheon, where she was given a certificate and a special key chain hand-made by Maplewood residents. more

“BEYOND THE SPECTRUM”: Members of the Princeton Police Department were among those on hand to help out at this special Autism Awareness Alliance event on Saturday, April 27 at the Dinky Bar & Kitchen.

By Anne Levin

According to a March 2023 report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the rate of children identified with autism spectrum disorder is one in 36 children nationally. Here in New Jersey, it is one in 35.

This and other statistics related to the developmental disorder inspired Sean (Shenyao) Xu, a sophomore at the Hun School, to help families — especially Chinese families — deal with the issue. Last Saturday, April 27, the 15-year-old, who moved to Princeton from China with his family a few years ago, helped organize a special “Beyond the Spectrum” event with the nonprofit Autism Awareness Alliance of Princeton. more

April 24, 2024

By Anne Levin

Contemplating how to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Morven Museum & Garden, staff at the historic house on Stockton Street came to the conclusion that digging into their own collections was the way to go. “Morven Revealed: Untold Stories from New Jersey’s Most Historic Home,” a show of rarely exhibited objects and newly discovered photographs, opens Friday, April 26 and remains on view through March 2, 2025.

A lit-up Baby Jesus, a lavish inaugural gown, a child’s ring uncovered during archaeological work, and a history of all the pets who lived at the house are among the curiosities on display. Way before it became a museum, Morven was home to numerous notable residents — Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; Robert Wood Johnson Jr., Johnson & Johnson heir; and five New Jersey governors have occupied the property. All had families and staffs.  more

By Anne Levin

It is billed as Local Author Day. But the annual event at Princeton Public Library, now in its 13th year, is actually a weekend-long celebration of area writers, their books, and the strategies that go into getting them published.

The celebration April 26-28 will blend live and virtual presentations designed to appeal to a range of ages and preferences. The main event is Saturday from 1-4 p.m., when 42 local authors take over the library’s first floor to sign books and meet the public. Two online workshops and one in person are also on the agenda.  more