A new shot is fired in the battle over the Princeton Battlefield.
Nine preservationist groups have formed a coalition to save the portion of the Revolutionary War battlefield slated for development by the Institute for Advanced Study.
The Save Princeton coalition includes the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Trust, and America’s oldest patriotic group, the Society of the Cincinnati.
Eight such organizations (including the American Association for State and Local History, the Civil War Trust, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, the National Coalition for History, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club) put their collective support behind the local Princeton Battlefield Society, urging the Institute for Advanced Study not to build faculty housing on a portion of the battlefield where General George Washington led a successful counterattack against British soldiers.
The president of the Princeton Battlefield Society, Jerry Hurwitz, has been dug in against the Institute for years.
“We need this to show the Institute that we’re not alone,” said Hurwitz. “We’re not a voice in the wilderness. We’re backed by some of the most important preservationists groups in the country. Not just historic preservationist groups but environmental preservationist groups, and veteran’s groups.”
The Institute for Advanced Study, famously the academic home of Albert Einstein, owns several hundred acres in and around Battlefield Park, much of it under preservation easement.
The Institute struck a deal in 1971 with the state of New Jersey to sell 32 acres to Battlefield Park, with the condition it be allowed to build on the portion called Maxwell’s Field. Two years ago — after historical and environmental studies were completed — the Princeton Planning Board approved the Institute’s plan.
“The Institute has received all the necessary regulatory approvals to proceed,” an Institute spokesperson said in a written statement. “Preservation issues and the Institute’s accommodation of them have been thoroughly vetted.”