Battlefield named endangered site, pleasing preservationists
The Princeton Battlefield, a site at the center of a local political controversy, was named one of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation last week, the latest step taken by local preservationists to oppose the development plans of the Institute for Advanced Study.
According to the Trust’s website, the Princeton Battlefield Society — a local organization opposed to the IAS’s plans — is their “partner” in supporting the preservation of the Princeton Battlefield.
IAS, which owns the land, plans to build a 15-acre housing development project on the Battlefield, where George Washington and his troops fought the British at the Battle of Princeton in 1777, to house faculty in the area. The Princeton Regional Planning Board approved the project in March after agreeing on a compromise that includes a 200-foot buffer zone. In April, the Battlefield Society filed a lawsuit to block IAS from constructing the housing.
“Princeton Battlefield is the site of a pivotal Revolutionary War battle where General George Washington rallied his forces to defeat British troops,” a statement from the National Trust for Historic Preservation read. “Many historians believe that this battle, along with the Battle of Trenton, saved the American Revolution and changed the course of world history.”
The Trust is a privately funded nonprofit organization, although it was created through a congressional charter in 1949. The Trust has been releasing its list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” for the past 25 years, and “only a handful of listed sites have been lost,” according to the press release.
Although the housing project was approved in March, the construction plans have long been opposed by preservationists like the Princeton Battlefield Society, who argue the historical value of the park is too high to be compromised. IAS, however, noted that the debate over the site's significance concluded with the vote in March to allow construction.
“We are familiar with the various arguments advanced by the Princeton Battlefield Society,” IAS spokeswoman Katherine Belyi said in an email. “Those arguments were fully aired before the Regional Planning Board, which approved the Institute's Faculty Housing Project unanimously.”
Belyi, however, declined to comment on the Trust's decision to include the Battlefield on its list.
“The Institute remains committed to our plan to build housing for our faculty,” she added.