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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the January 11, 2006
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Real Estate Notes
To take a visitor on the "Houses of the Rich and Famous" tour of
Princeton would require visiting more than a dozen houses, four of
them once occupied by the man who was elected the nation’s 28th
president, Woodrow Wilson. One of them, 82 Library Place, is now owned
by long-time Woodrow Wilson fan Robert Carr, and his wife Jill.
Bob Carr is the CEO of Heartland Payment Systems, which went public
last year and has just expanded into new space at 90 Nassau Street
(see story, page 42). Recently the couple made personal headlines by
endowing Princeton Day School with an $11 million scholarship fund,
the largest scholarship donation ever given by a living donor to a
similar coed day school. The endowment is meant to cover tuition and
expenses for three financially needy children in each grade.
The Carrs also opened their home last year for a fundraising tour
sponsored by the Historical Society of Princeton.
The history of 82 Library Place: A graduate of Princeton University,
with a law degree at the University of Virginia and a PhD from Johns
Hopkins, Woodrow Wilson returned to Princeton teach in 1889. At first
he and his wife, Ellen, lived at 72 Library Place, built by architect
Charles Steadman. He commissioned Edward S. Child to design the Tudor
Revival house at 82 Library Place and they moved there in 1896. In
1902, when he became president of the university, the couple lived at
Prospect House. In 1910 Wilson ran for governor, and won. When he left
Princeton in 1913 to occupy the White House, the Wilsons were living
in rented quarters at 25 Cleveland Lane.
In 1988 82 Library Place sold for $1,350,000, and in 1995 for
$1,250,000. Represented by Betsy Sayen of Peyton Associates Realtors
in Pennington, the Carrs bought the house from the estate of Charles
and Anya Yates (who had died in a tragic plane accident) for $2.2
million in 2003.
Architect Ronald Berlin, based on Nassau Street, is working with Judie
Cochran Nemeth, an interior designer, on the complicated restoration
project done by Baxter Construction. In the foyer, for instance,
carpenters removed and refinished both the 1,600-board wooden ceiling
and the millwork on the walls, and then they replicated it in the
hallways and up the stairs – a job that required impeccable
Nemeth had been introduced to the Carrs because her brochures had been
distributed by Kathy Nemeth, her sister-in-law, at Peyton’s Pennington
branch. "Kathy’s office had some handouts from me," says Nemeth, "and
since then the Carrs have been wonderful clients." She started out
with their previous house on Lover’s Lane and has found, naturally
enough, that the Library Place house is a dream job.
"Bob has always been a huge fan of Woodrow Wilson, so this was like
heaven," says Nemeth, noting that Carr has acquired 69 volumes of the
Wilson papers. "He was the one who told us a lot of the history about
the house." A native of Lawrenceville, Nemeth’s father had worked as a
salesperson but had a serious interest in architecture and had built a
Frank Lloyd Wright-like shore house.
"I had known since I was a kid that I wanted to be in interior
design," says Nemeth. A fixer-upper in Hopewell was her first big
interior design project. She earned her degree at the College of New
Jersey which, at that time, had an accredited interior design
four-year program. Her first job was with the architectural firm,
CUH2A, and then she opened her own practice. Now she lives and works
in Lawrenceville and has two adult children.
Nemeth also was a consultant on Carr’s Heartland Payments office at 90
Nassau Street (furnished by Randi Koss of ICI). She recommended artist
Eleanor Hoyt Voorhees for both the mural in the Carrs’ dining room and
the one in the office.
Voorhees grew up in Bridgewater, where her father was a hospital
executive and her mother was a nurse. After attending the University
of Delaware, Class of 1994, she studied in Italy and opened a studio
at her home in Lambertville (www.ev-studio.com or 908-399-4449), where
she specializes in commissioned murals.
For the Wilson house dining room, Voorhees was commissioned to paint a
monochromatic landscape mural, referring to sites that the Wilsons
might have seen when they lived in Princeton. "Bob Carr gave me the
names of some buildings and told me that Ellen Wilson was a
professional painter," says Voorhees. She incorporated elements of
Ellen Wilson’s style into three different landscapes that wrap around
the dining room.
The Carrs and their children and their dogs (their favorites are
beagles and golden retrievers) carry on their lives in the middle of
the construction. The downstairs rooms are essentially complete, but
work continues on the second and third floor. For now, construction
vehicles clog the circular drive like ants drawn to sugar. But the
Carrs have a historically significant target date for completion:
December 28, 2006, is the sesquicentennial of Woodrow Wilson’s birth.
Baxter Construction Inc., 32 Nassau Street, Princeton 08542;
609-924-9263; fax, 609-924-9257. Jim Baxter, president. Home page:
Ronald Berlin, Architect, 360 Nassau Street, Second Floor, Princeton
08540; 609-921-1800; fax, 609-921-8484.
Judie Nemeth Interiors, 12 Village Court, Lawrenceville 08648;
609-896-9424; fax, 609-896-9518. E-mail: email@example.com.
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