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Battle over what to do with historic Princeton battleground continues

2/22/2012 | Real Estate Blog

A 21-acre tract of land owned by Institute for Advanced Study from Princeton University is currently the subject not only of a historic battle, but also a contemporary land dispute.

Preservationists hope to preserve the grounds as a memorial to the 1777 battle when George Washington led American troops to victory over the British. The institute, however, believes the land next to Princeton Battlefield State Park should be used for faculty housing in order to bolster the academic environment.

At present, there is a compromise plan which would permanently preserve roughly 14 acres of the site and allow 15 housing units blocked off by trees to be built on seven acres. That plan, which has been accepted by the institute, allows for archaeological work to recover historical artifacts. To that end, a buffer zone of 200 feet will be established, as well as markers to help visitors understand the historic battle. Trees and brush which were not present in 1777 will also be removed.

The compromise plan has its opponents, though. Those opposing building near the site say it is one of the few preserved battlegrounds of the American Revolution, and that its preservation should be a top priority.

But officials from the institute say that archaeological work performed on the site suggests that troop movements took place there, but not a major battle. The institute also says it has already done much to preserve the land. Back in 1973, the institute conveyed 32 acres, 60 percent of the parkland, to the state of Philadelphia. The new project calls for the construction of eight townhouses and seven single-family homes, and is expected to allow greater collaboration between faculty and visiting scholars.

Opponents of the project say the proposed housing will negatively impact the integrity of the important historic site, and some plan to continue fighting the compromise plan.

It isn’t clear exactly how the dispute will turn out, but it is not unlikely that housing will be allowed to go up near the site.

Source:, “Princeton land dispute pits history against housing,” Edward Colimore, February 15, 2011.