This article was originally published in the August 2018 Princeton Echo.
Drive down Library Place in Princeton’s vaunted Western Section, and its stately homes practically exude wealth and a sense of historic significance. But if you are not mesmerized by the well manicured lawns and fancy architecture you will also observe for sale signs — a lot of them. As of this printing six houses were listed for sale on the .6-mile stretch running between Mercer Street and Westcott Road. The homes start at around $2 million, and most can stake a claim to a place in Princeton history.
But first, a bit of Library Place history that is notable for the role it doesn’t play in the current story. The street — so named because it was home to Princeton Theological Seminary’s original library — was first called Steadman Street. At the time it ran only between Mercer and Stockton streets, and along that single block were four homes designed by famed builder and architect Charles Steadman. Among those was number 72, once rented by Woodrow Wilson. None of the Steadman houses, however, are among those currently for sale — five by Callaway Henderson, and one, 144 Library, by Weichert. (If a Steadman house is what you want, head to 26 Alexander Street, also listed by Callaway, for $999,999.)
68 Library Place
6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms on .79 acres, listed at $3,200,000.
This recognizable red and green home at the southwest corner of Library Place and Stockton Street (Route 206) was built in the 1880s. The architect was Richard Morris Hunt — better known for, among other things, designing the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty and the Breakers, Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s estate in Newport, Rhode Island.
94 Library Place
5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms on .5 acres, listed at $2,750,000. Turn-of-the-century era Stone/Gothic-style home.
107 Library Place
6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms on .46 acres, listed at $1,998,000.
This Italianate villa was designed and inhabited by Howard Russell Butler. If the name rings a bell, it’s perhaps because Butler’s rarely seen paintings of solar eclipses were on view at the Princeton University Art Museum last summer in “Transient Effects: The Solar Eclipses and Celestial Landscapes of Howard Russell Butler.” The Princeton alumnus, Class of 1876, was also hired to paint Andrew Carnegie’s portrait and is credited with convincing Carnegie to donate funds to the university for the construction of Carnegie Lake.
133 Library Place
5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms on .97 acres, listed at $2,795,000.
This classic Tudor was originally part of Declaration of Independence signer Richard Stockton’s estate, Morven. But it’s a more recent resident who is perhaps better known now: noted philanthropist William Scheide, a 1936 Princeton alumnus who died at age 100 in 2014, lived there for the last 66 years of his life.
130 Library Place
6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms on .59 acres, listed at $2,650,000.
This three-story home is full of period details from the time of its most famous former resident. That would be H.G. Duffield, Princeton Class of 1881, who retired as the university’s treasurer after a 45-year career there from 1885 to 1930. In 1932 he was appointed to fill a vacancy on Princeton city council. He died and age 90 in 1950 and is buried in Princeton Cemetery.
144 Library Place
4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms on .36 acres, listed at $2,197,000.
A part of the Library Place landscape since 1908, this home’s claim to fame stems from its original location on Railroad Avenue — known today as University Place. Built in 1874, the University Cottage, as it was called, originally served as lodging for visitors to the university. But beginning in 1886 it was the first home of three of the university’s undergraduate eating clubs — all of which are still in operation in their modern-day homes on Prospect Avenue. Cottage Club occupied the home from 1886 to 1892, Tiger Inn from 1892 to 1895, and Cannon Club from 1895 to 1897.