The evening started on one of the oldest streets in Princeton. Joanna and Will Storrar opened the doors to their Greek Revival home, designed by Charles Steadman, at 35 Edgehill Street, for a private pre-party of patrons of “1783: Libertas Americana,” the Saturday, December 6, gala capping off a year of events to commemorate the Second Continental Congress’s five-month stay in Princeton. Another pre-party, hosted by Scott and Tracy Sipprelle, took place at their historic home, Westland, the former residence of President Grover Cleveland on Hodge Road.

A light dusting of snow fell from the sky, creating the perfect Revolutionary War setting. As guests bustled into the Storrar’s house they were offered cups of Fish House Punch, an intoxicating — literally — hot punch traced to the Fish House in Philadelphia, the oldest private dining club in the United States founded in 1732 by Quakers. General George Washington, a.k.a. Ronald S. Carnegie Jr., who traveled for the occasion all the way from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia, was among the guests.

Everyone made their way through the still-falling snow to Morven, where MaxHansenCaterer of Bucks County recreated an 18th century menu. Guests danced to the music of the Jack Goodman Orchestra and mingled through the galleries of Morven, now exhibiting “Picturing Princeton 1783: The Nation’s Capital” — portraits, artifacts, and original documents that reveal Congress’s impact on the town of Princeton and tell the story of how Congress assembled in Nassau Hall to grapple with such monumental issues as the Treaty of Paris, the future of the army, anti-slavery petitions, and the finances and government of the new republic.

Each couple left with a limited edition commemorative coin, recreated by Hamilton Jewelers from the Libertas Americana (“American Liberty”) medal conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1782 to celebrate America’s military victories, specifically the British surrenders at Saratoga and Yorktown. The evening’s proceeds will go to support Morven Museum & Garden educational programs.

“Picturing Princeton” runs through June, 2008.

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