An Intact Princeton Battlefield Is Within Reach
The January 1777 Battle of Princeton brought General George Washington his first victory against British regulars and may well have decided the fate of the American Revolution. Just nine days after crossing the Delaware, Washington launched his famous charge from a parcel of land now known as Maxwell’s Field, which is owned by the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and lies adjacent to Princeton Battlefield State Park.
In November 2015, the IAS began to clear Maxwell’s Field with heavy equipment in preparation for building faculty-housing units. One month later, TCLF listed the Princeton Battlefield in its Landslide program, highlighting the potential loss of the historic landscape. In March 2016, TCLF joined the Save Princeton Coalition, an alliance of advocacy organizations formed by the Civil War Trust, the National Coalition for History, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Princeton Battlefield Society, and other groups.
A breakthrough was achieved in December 2016 when the IAS agreed to sell 14.85 acres of land to the Civil War Trust (through its Campaign 1776 initiative) for $4 million, with the land to be conveyed to the State of New Jersey as an addition to the existing Princeton Battlefield State Park—a sixteen-percent increase to the historic parkland. The planned acquisition includes approximately two-thirds of the Maxwell’s Field property and a 1.12-acre parcel north of the property that has been identified by historians as part of the battlefield.
To accommodate the sale, the IAS will reduce the footprint of its housing project, replacing seven single-family home lots with eight townhouses, all located east of Gödel Lane on Maxwell’s Field. The new housing plan will also avoid any development within the Princeton Battlefield National Historic Landmark boundary, established in 1961.
Although great strides have been made in raising the required funds to complete the purchase, the sale of the land has already been postponed from its initial June 2017 closing date. The closing in now scheduled for December 15, 2017, and the Civil War Trust has made an urgent appeal for further donations from the public.