Letter from the president

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A community newsletter from the Princeton Battlefield Society

October, 2015

Dear Donors, Friends and Supporters,

The Board and I are sending our newsletter to you to share our pride in the programs and services we are providing you and thousands of other families, visitors, friends, neighbors and donors. It is our pledge to you, to the Princeton Battlefield State Park, and to the history and heritage of the American Revolutionary that we will stay true to our mission of preservation, protection, and promotion - - and most importantly, that we do so with your continuing involvement, participation and support. I personally appreciate this opportunity to highlight our progress in this newsletter.

► I especially want to acknowledge and wholeheartedly welcome the support of the Civil War Trust, on behalf of its Campaign 1776, to our efforts to secure the D’Ambrisi property and to save Maxwell Field.

► We spearheaded a major cooperative effort to bring the state and community together to purchase the 4.6-acre D’Ambrisi property, which is immediately behind the Colonnade. This acquisition, which was formally acknowledged at a September 16th ceremony, extends the Park’s boundaries to Route 206.

Special appreciation goes to the New Jersey Park Service, Princeton and Mercer County officials, State Senator Kip Bateman, the Friends of Princeton Open Space, and the Civil War Trust’s Campaign 1776. The Society took a leadership role and confirmed that by working together cooperatively we can accomplish much.

► I am happy to report that Phase I of our campaign to “Save the Clarke House” has been completed. We are now awaiting the State and a new architectural firm to move on to Phase II. We’re almost half way there in raising funds for Phase II, so please consider helping us get to the next level.

► The history and heritage of the Battle of Princeton continues to be our primary goal through education and community outreach. This increased in 2015 with three day-long programs of reenactments, presentations, and demonstrations of colonial and military life, attracting well over 1,000 families and others to the Park. (One of my most enjoyable roles is being the “drill master” for kids at our events.)

We also had a presence at Princeton’s Commun-iversity Day, NJ History Fair, and the Park’s July 4th event. Our final program of 2015 was on September 26 - - “Revolution at Princeton” and “Shakespeare in the Park” with a performance of CYMBELINE.

► I was recently asked by a friend why we are against the Institute. A good question, which I answered by saying that we aren’t AGAINST

the IAS but we are FOR the integrity and protection of critical, historic land at the Battlefield. We are challenged, however, when bulldozers appear overnight - - prior to receiving final approvals by the Planning Board and DRCC.

The PBS, as you know, is strongly committed to our American history and a part of this history is the protection and preservation of land on which our United States began. Maxwell Field, the property in question, is very much a piece of land we consider hallowed ground; it was where George Washington launched his counterattack that swept the British from the field and gave his army their very first major field victory over British regulars. We sincerely hope more people will join our cause of preserving the legacy and sacrifice of American patriots on Maxwell Field by preventing the building of houses on the site.

► Our commitment to redevelop informative signage throughout the Park, more clean-up days, expanded historic educational programs, the repair of the Colonnade, heavily damaged during Sandy, and around the Gravesite Marker remains strong.

► And I would be terribly remiss if I did not publicly acknowledge, on behalf of the Board, the generous, ongoing donations and involvement of members, donors, and friends who have given to the protection of the Princeton Battlefield State Park and to its preservation and promotion. You make our efforts and annual successes possible!

Please enjoy our newsletter and learn more about the Princeton Battlefield Society. (And don’t forget to fill out and complete the form we are providing.) I encourage you to write to us and ask you to consider ways you might be able to help. Thank you from all of us.

Jerry Hurwitz, President


Civil War Trust Announces Campaign 1776 at Ceremony in Princeton

On November 11, 2014, with the Princeton Battlefield Monument as background, James Lighthizer, President of the Civil War Trust (CWT), announced his organization’s commit-ment to saving American Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields from development and loss. Through its Campaign 1776 the CWT began its national efforts to raise funds and public support for re-claiming threatened American Revolution sites. The first preserva-tion project, in cooperation with governmental and public groups, both nationally and locally, was to secure and preserve the 4.6 historic acres known as the “D’Ambrisi Property.” Informa-tion is at www.campaign1776.org.

To strengthen its announcement and commit-ment, the CWT donated $20,000 to Princeton for on-site improvements of the D’Ambrisi property and an additional $5,000 to the PBS to undertake ground penetrating radar on the 4.6 acres.

The CWT is the largest and most effective non-profit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. It has an impressive record of saving over 40 thousand acres of Civil War battlefields since 1989. The CWT’s new commitment is warmly applauded and most welcomed. This commitment, coupled by Congress’ enactment of a law expanding financial preservation support on a matching

basis, is critical for the preservation of sites like

the Princeton Battlefield. It will provide a tremendous incentive for states and local communities to fund the acquisition of battlefields with a match from the federal government.

The PBS welcomes the Civil War Trust as a friend and partner in our efforts to preserve, protect and promote the Princeton Battlefield. We also thank the American Battlefield Protection Socity for its continuing support.

The Thomas Clarke House Still Needs Our Help!

Phase I of the Clarke House’s rehabilitation was completed earlier this year with the stabilization of the structure, siding repair, and replacement of rotted sills. In the course of repairs the western porch (to the left in photo) was determined to be in worse shape than appeared and was removed. This was an unanticipated additional expense, but a very necessary one.

The Princeton Battlefield Society met the costs of architects’ fees for the rehabilitation in Phase I and New Jersey paid for labor and materials’ costs. Our expense was approximately $17,700.

And now, Phase II.

However, oqwHScotch poet Robert Burns aptly warned, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, …” Our Phase II plans went awry when we were informed that the architectural firm we employed, JMA, was moving out of the architecture business. So we are back searching for another preservation architecture company, thereby delaying the full start of Phase II. Bottomline we still need to raise the money for our Phase II commitment beyond. The cost to the PBS for this phase will be $23,000, with less than half raised to date.

(Following the Ceremony transferring the D’Ambrisi property to the State Park, Mark Texel, Director, NJ State Park Service, visited the Clarke House and made the decision to temporarily paint the House before the winter months resulted in more deterioration.)
We ask you to consider a donation to our Clarke House Fund. Please join donors like The Colonial Lords of the Manor in America which has supported the Clarke House since 2006. To all of our donors and friends, we underscore our commitment to the full rehabilitation of the Thomas Clarke House, the only remaining eye-witness to the Battle of Princeton.

Annual “Revolution at Princeton” & “Shakespeare in the Park” September 26

Another great day and evening at the Princeton Battlefield occurred on September 26. Families and friends enjoyed a free day of colonial and Revolutionary War activities and a performance of Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE in the evening.

Activities during the day (from 10 am to 5 pm) included:
► Attendees learned about the Battle of Princeton, toured the Clarke House, talked with
authors and collectors of Revolutionary War memorabilia, and learned about the creating pens and bookmarks from historic trees.
► Artillery (43rd Royal Artillery) and encamp-ment life demonstrations

► Colonial music, ice cream making (and tasting), musket drilling for kids, book, souvenir and toy soldier sales, and displays of historic artwork.
► There were also opportunities to meet and talk to General George Washington!

And for Shakespeare fans, the PBS sponsored an outdoor performance of CYMBELINE by the Cradle Theater Company of Manhattan. This group was founded in 2014 by Sam Kessler and other students from Princeton University.

General George Washington had an appreciation for theater and music, especially as a distraction from the trauma of battle and the difficulties of camp life. At Valley Forge he authorized staging a play for his troops. We are building on that tradition by presenting a Shakespeare play each September.
“Revolution at Princeton” and “Shakespeare in the Park” were the third and final 2015 events sponsored by the Princeton Battlefield Society at the Battlefield. We always seek new events and activities to present our American Revolutionary history and heritage and encourage your ideas and suggestions as well as your assistance with planning other events in 2016.
PBS Spearheads First Addition to Park Since 1976

At a formal ceremony on September 16, the 4.6-acre D’Ambrisi property was officially turned over to New Jersey to be incorporated into the Princeton Battlefield State Park. This was the first addition to the Park since 1976. The long process of negotiations involving Princeton and Mercer County officials, the State Park Service, the D’Ambrisi Family, and the Friends of Princeton Open Space was guided by PBS’s 1st Vice President, Kip Cherry. Also involved in the sale and transfer were the Board of Freeholders, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the US Department of Interior’s American Battlefield Protection Program, and the Civil War Trust’s Campaign 1776.

The property’s house and outbuildings have been removed and ground penetrating radar,
funded by the Civil War Trust, was employed. A further archeological study, made possible with an American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) grant, will study the historic importance of the site. This will include locating potentially important artifacts, helping to prepare an application for expanding National Register and possibly the National Landmark boundaries, and searching for evidence of the mass grave. We are currently selecting a team to undertake this work.
The 4.6 acres lies behind the Colonnade and Gravesite Marker and extends the Park’s boundaries to Route 206. (206 is Stockton Street and was known as “King’s Highway,” the major route taken by the British toward Trenton and from which Washington’s troops were sighted moving beyond the Clarke House.) This area, located near the ridge top, may have been the scene of limited actions involving the retreat of British forces, probably dismounted light dragoons of the 16th Light Dragoon Regiment,.

The ceremony was attended by national, state and local representatives including State Senator Kip Bateman, Liz Lempert, Princeton Mayor, a representative of Brian Hughes, Mercer County Executive, Renee Jones of Green Acres, members of the D’Ambrisi family, Wendy Mager, President of Friends of Princeton Open Spaces, Tom Gilmore, the Civil War Trust’s Director of Real Estate, and Jerry Hurwitz, President of the Princeton Battlefield Society. Mark Texel, Director, NJ State Park Service, was master of ceremonies.
The ceremony was followed by a tour of the D’Ambrisi property including the ponds and new pathway.

Education & Outreach Are at the Heart of Our Mission
We are proud of what we are doing to advance Revolutionary War and Battle of Princeton education through the involvement of local, statewide, regional, and national friends and donors. To highlight our accomplishments:
► Throughout the year we provide pre-arranged battlefield tours for community groups.  The most recent was for the Friends of Washington Crossing Historic Park, conducted by PBS board member, Roger S. Williams. For information, or to arrange a tour or a speaker for your group, contact him at roger@nepagency.com, or call him at 609-896-2439.
► Since 2007 we have worked on a revised map of the Battle of Princeton and in 2010, with the completion of the mapping study funded by a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program and the expertise of Steve Stanley, map-maker for the Civil War Trust, we were able to consolidate multiple maps into a single map depicting the battle. This map was incorporated into the PBS’s new brochure, funded by the New Jersey Historical Commission and available at all PBS events.
We now want to place this educational and informational map on the pedestal near the flagpole. This stone pedestal has been without a map for years and we are determined to install a new one as a donation to the Park. The state asked us to wait until after the procurement of the D’Ambrisi property and the removal of the stone pedestal. This we will do, but we remain focused on installing a new map and starting the process of improving signage throughout the Park.

It is also to be noted that the PBS received numerous donations in memory of Chris Wren, a PBS Board member. In honor of Chris’ service to the Princeton Battlefield State Park and as a fitting memorial to him and for his family, we are eager to use these donations to meet the costs of the new map in Chris’ memory.

► Park clean-ups have become ongoing community projects, providing needed services for the preservation of the Park’s natural beauty. This year special support came from the Sierra Club as well as from friends like the Kane Family and photographer John Lien as we struggled to remove invasive bamboo near the Clarke House.

If you or your group is interested in participating in future clean-ups, we welcome your help. Please contact Kip Cherry for more information – princetonbattlefieldsocinfo@gmail.com.
► We are thankful to our growing list of Members from across the United States. A list of 2015 Members by category will appear in our newsletter at the end-of-the year. And we are always encouraged by letters and notes from donors, such as this one to Jerry Hurwitz from a new member: “It was a pleasure meeting you… [at] the ribbon cutting of the D’Ambrisi Property acquisition. I was impressed with your energy and enthusiasm, and excited to be allowed to support your fine organization. Honestly, I didn’t know you existed, but I’m very happy you are, and I’m happy to join up. … Put my money to good use. I’m sure you will.” We guarantee it!

► Behind the Colonnade is a Gravesite Marker commemorating twenty-one British and sixteen American officers and soldiers who fought and died here. A poem written by Alfred Noyes in 1916, then a visiting professor and Poet Laureate of England, is inlayed in bronze over the site. The words represent a meaningful message to honor their courage, bravery and ultimate sacrifice. (Ground penetrating radar is being used to determine if actual graves are on the new addition to the Park.) We have a restricted fund that will help us repair the memorial plate and you are asked to consider a donation.

Where Do We Stand in Our Commitment to Save Maxwell Field from Destruction

The PBS wants to be very clear about its commitment to preserve Maxwell Field. We never wanted a fight with the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). There is far too much that we wish and must do to preserve and enhance the Princeton Battlefield and to tell the important story of what happened here. To tell that story we are dedicated to protect and preserve what we believe is land crucial to our American history and heritage, all core areas of the battlefield not yet lost to development. Today, that is clearly Maxwell Field, the site identified in the ABPP Mapping Study of the Battle of Princeton, the very heart of George Washington’s decisive counterattack that broke the British line and won for Washington his first major victory over British regulars. To those questioning our intent we ask: “Is there some-thing wrong with this?”

Since 2011 we have been locked in a seesaw legal battle to block the construction of IAS faculty housing which would, in effect, destroy a critical part of the battlefield, a part which is necessary to understand what happened here. This land is very much a part of our heritage; we cannot walk away from a fight to preserve it.

In recent stages in this legal fight we succeeded in stopping the first development plan presented by the IAS by defeating its request to the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission (DRCC) for a stream setback waiver. The IAS responded by redoing its plan and applying to the Princeton Planning Board for approval. We claimed the new plan required a full hearing, but the Planning Board rejected our claim, restricted our ability to provide witnesses, and allowed new board members to read the transcript of the first hearing rather than hearing our case. In essence our entire case was denied a full hearing by the Planning Board. Our only recourse was to appeal to the Mercer County Superior Court.

The IAS went before the DRCC again, but this time for a simple approval. We won again, but a month later one of the commissioners was allowed to change his vote. We have taken our appeal of this re-vote by the DRCC to the New Jersey Appellate Division.
Rather than wait for the Planning Board and the DRCC to issue their final approvals, the IAS started to build on the site.

There was no announcement, only the appearance of bulldozers, construction fencing, and actual soil removal. This occurred even after the IAS publicly announced that it had found more musket balls on Maxwell Field!

We were shocked and surprised because we knew they still did not have all necessary approvals and because they had told us they were not building until the appeals had been resolved. We went to Superior Court to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) and we won! We were successful in obtaining a TRO pending a ruling on the appeal. That appeal was heard on September 3. A strong audience of PBS and Civil War Trust supporters attended the hearing. The CWT had submitted an Amicus on our behalf, but this was not accepted by the judge. In the denial, counsel for the IAS commented that the Amicus was simply “a re-hash of history.” That’s our point: We are very much concerned that American history is being ignored in the face of plans to build faculty housing.

While the PBS is cautiously hopeful that the judge will overturn the Princeton Planning Board’s decision, based on numerous errors made by the Board in its interpretations of statutes and ordinances effectively identified by our legal counsel, we are prepared whatever the outcome. A ruling on the appeal will be delivered by the judge within the next few months. If we lose, we will file an appeal to the Appellate Division and request an extension of the TRO pending that appeal and our appeal of the DRCC decision.
The CWT joins the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which named the Princeton Battlefield to its 11 Most Endangered List in 2012, along with many national donors, as our core of principal allies from throughout the US.

Throughout our historic battle, we have received the generous support of many friends and

preservationists committed to the protection of the Princeton Battlefield. Many have provided major funds and challenged us to raise matching donations. We did on six occasions, and warmly thank the challenge donors and those who responded. One generous donation in particular had the following note attached from an employee and board member of Whole Earth Center in Princeton: To our dedicated friends at the Princeton Battlefield Society. Please find the enclosed donation. Keep up the good and noble fight, and may you feel the strength of all that stand behind you!” Thank you, Whole Earth Center. Yes, we definitely feel the strength you mention.

We remain committed to saving Maxwell Field, and with your continuing partnership and support, we will win the Second Battle of Princeton!

The 239th anniversary of the

Battle of Princeton will be

celebrated on January 3, 2016.
Welcome Civil War Trust!

HUZZAH! is an information newsletter of the Princeton Battlefield Area Preservation Society (aka “The Princeton Battlefield Society”) and is intended for members, donors and friends.

Our mailing address is:

Princeton Battlefield Society

P. O. Box 7645

Princeton, New Jersey 08543
We are a tax-exempt non-profit organization

approved by the IRS as a 501(c)(3).

EIN 23-7087307

Clip and Mail

Please accept the enclosed donation of $_____ to support the Princeton Battlefield Society’s programs, projects and services as indicated:

Clarke House Fund

Colonnade & Gravesite Restoration

Park Signage

Legal Defense Fund

Educational/Community Programs


You can make a donation online by going to our website.

Please provide name and full address. An email would be helpful as well.


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