After nearly 240 years, the Battle of Princeton, fought on January 3, 1777, and a critical turning point in the Revolutionary War, appears to be finally over. The Institute for Advanced Study and the Civil War Trust this week announced a compromise regarding land the institute had planned to use for faculty housing. That proposal had been fought in various courts for many years by several historic preservation groups, especially the Princeton Battlefield Society.
The linchpin of the settlement is the offer of the Civil War Trust to pay $4 million to the Institute for the 14.85 acres of land known as Maxwell’s Field. The purchase will preserve two-thirds of the Maxwell’s Field property, believed to be a part of the battlefield. “The story of the Battle of Princeton — even that of the American Revolution — cannot be fully told without demonstrating the events that occurred on and near Maxwell’s Field,” said the Battlefield Society.
As a result of the sale, the Institute will reduce the footprint of its housing project, replacing seven single family home lots with eight more townhouses, for a total of 16 townhouses.
In a joint statement Institute Director Robbert Dijkgraaf and Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer said “we are delighted to reach this agreement, which both meets the needs of the Institute and ensures the preservation of this site through an enlarged and revitalized Princeton Battlefield State Park.”
In a separate statement the Princeton Battlefield Society said “this agreement is a ‘win-win’ solution in which all stakeholders benefit: the Institute achieves its goal to build faculty housing on a more modest scale; preservationists get to protect one of the most historic battlefield properties in the nation, and the Princeton region gets an enhanced historic destination that will attract visitors from around the globe. We also hope this agreement will usher in a new era of cooperation between the Institute and the Society.”
The Battlefield Society added that, once the purchase is complete, it would dismiss all legal challenges.