Nassau Hall, Princeton University
|Location||Princeton, New Jersey|
|Architect||Robert Smith (1756), Benjamin Latrobe (1804), John Notman (1855)|
|Part of||Princeton Historic District (#75001143)|
|NRHP reference #||66000465|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHL||October 9, 1960|
|Designated NJRHP||May 27, 1971|
Nassau Hall (or colloquially Old Nassau) is the oldest building at Princeton University in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States.Additionally, it briefly served as the United States Capitol building. At the time it was built in 1756, Nassau Hall was the largest building in colonial New Jersey and the largest academic building in the American colonies.
The university, originally known as the College of New Jersey, held classes for one year in Elizabeth and nine years in Newark before the hall was completed in 1756. Designed originally by Robert Smith, the building was subsequently remodeled by notable American architects Benjamin Latrobe and John Notman. In the early years of Princeton University, Nassau Hall accommodated classrooms, a library, a chapel, and residential space for students and faculty. It housed the university's first Department of Psychology, for example.
During the American Revolutionary War, Nassau Hall was possessed by both British and American forces and suffered considerable damage, especially during the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. From June 30 to November 4, 1783, Princeton was the provisional capital of the United States, and Nassau Hall served as its seat of government. The Congress of the Confederation met in the building's library on the second floor. According to Princeton University, "Here Congress congratulated George Washington on his successful termination of the war, received the news of the signing of the definitive treaty of peace with Great Britain, and welcomed the first foreign minister—from the Netherlands —accredited to the United States."
At present, Nassau Hall houses Princeton University's administrative offices, including that of the university's president. Old Nassau refers affectionately to the building and serves as a metonym for the university as a whole. The U.S. Department of the Interior designated Nassau Hall a National Historic Landmark in 1960, "signifying its importance in the Revolutionary War and in the history of the United States."
When the building was constructed in 1754, the college's board wanted to name it after Jonathan Belcher, the chosen royal governor of New Jersey, but he graciously declined, preferring it to be dedicated "to the immortal memory of the glorious King William III," who hailed from the Dutch House of Orange-Nassau. As a result, the building is known as Nassau Hall.
The New Jersey Legislature met for the first time in Nassau Hall on August 27, 1776.
The British Redcoats seized control of Nassau Hall in 1776, and American soldiers were forced to fire upon their own building in the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. Three cannonballs were fired, but only two made contact. One glanced off the south side of the building; the damage can still be seen today. Another cannonball flew through a window in the Faculty Room and "decapitated" King George's portrait. The cannonball was said to have come from a gun in the artillery company commanded by Alexander Hamilton, who had been rejected by Princeton when he first came to the colonies. The result of the battle was a decisive Patriot victory, and Nassau Hall was retaken by the Americans.
The Congress of the Confederation convened in Nassau Hall for a little more than four months (from June 30, 1783, to November 4, 1783). The normal location in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had to be vacated because of a mutiny by Continental Army soldiers.
Starting in 1869, each graduation class adds a new sprig of ivy to grow up the walls of the building.
The first U.S. commemorative postage stamp printed on colored paper honored Nassau Hall on its bicentennial. It depicted a front view of Nassau Hall. It was denominated at the first class rate of 3 cents and was on orange paper. It was first issued at Princeton, New Jersey, on September 22, 1956.
The song Old Nassau was adopted as Princeton University's alma mater (school song) in 1859. The lyrics were written by Harlan Page Peck, a member of Princeton's class of 1862, and first published in the March 1859 issue of Nassau Literary Magazine. The music, originally to be set to the tune of Auld Lang Syne , proved unworkable, and Karl A. Langlotz, a professor of music at Princeton who had studied composition under Franz Liszt,wrote a new melody for the song's lyrics.
As described in 1760 in the New American Magazine, "The simple interior design is shown in the plan, where a central corridor provided communication with the students' chambers and recitation rooms, the entrances, and the common prayer hall; and on the second floor, with the library over the central north entrance. The prayer hall was two stories high, measured 32 by 40 feet, and had a balcony at the north end which could be reached from the second-story entry. Partially below ground level, though dimly lighted by windows, was the cellar, which served as kitchen, dining area (beneath the prayer hall), and storeroom. In all there were probably forty rooms for the students, not including those added later in the cellar when a moat was dug to allow additional light and air into that dungeon."
On March 6, 1802, a fire devastated the interior of the hall, leaving only the exterior walls standing and destroying nearly all contents including 2,900 out of the library's 3,000 books. Benjamin H. Latrobe, the first architect professionally trained in the United States and known for his work in the Federal style, oversaw the reconstruction and refused his share of the $42,000 that had been raised for the effort."The horizontal lintels over the three entrances at the front of the building were replaced with triangular pediments, and the circular window in the central pediment rising from the eves (sic) was replaced with a fanlight."
The hall was gutted by fire once again in March 1855. Reconstruction was carried out by John Notman of Philadelphia in his characteristic Italian Renaissance style, adding an often-criticized cupola and towers along with engineering improvements. Many of his architectural flourishes were removed in later renovations.
Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, then to the current site nine years later, and renamed itself Princeton University in 1896.
Princeton is a municipality with a borough form of government in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States, that was established in its current form on January 1, 2013, through the consolidation of the now-defunct Borough of Princeton and Princeton Township. As of the 2010 United States Census, the municipality's population was 28,572, reflecting the former township's population of 16,265, along with the 12,307 in the former borough.
The Battle of Princeton was a battle of the American Revolutionary War, fought near Princeton, New Jersey on January 3, 1777, and ending in a small victory for the Colonials. General Lord Cornwallis had left 1,400 British troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood in Princeton. Following a surprise attack at Trenton early in the morning of December 26, 1776, General George Washington of the Continental Army decided to attack the British in New Jersey before entering the winter quarters. On December 30, he crossed the Delaware River back into New Jersey. His troops followed on January 3, 1777. Washington advanced to Princeton by a back road, where he pushed back a smaller British force but had to retreat before Cornwallis arrived with reinforcements. The battles of Trenton and Princeton were a boost to the morale of the patriot cause, leading many recruits to join the Continental Army in the spring.
The Nassau Presbyterian Church is a historic congregation located at 61 Nassau Street in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. It has been the home of many important figures in the history of Presbyterianism in the United States as a result of its proximity to Princeton University and the Princeton Theological Seminary. The church operates the Princeton Cemetery and is a contributing property to the Princeton Historic District. The current pastor is The Reverend Dr. David A. Davis.
The University Cottage Club is one of eleven current eating clubs at Princeton University, in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. It is also one of the six bicker clubs, along with The Ivy Club, Tiger Inn, Cap and Gown Club, Cannon Club and Tower Club.
Evelyn College for Women, often shortened to Evelyn College, was the coordinate women's college of Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey between 1887 and 1897. It was the first women's college in the State of New Jersey.
The Nassau Inn is the only full service hotel in downtown Princeton, New Jersey, United States. It first opened at 52 Nassau Street in 1769 in a home built in 1756. The Inn experienced British occupation during the American Revolution and played host to members of the Continental Congress when it met in nearby Nassau Hall. In 1937, the original inn was demolished to make way for the Palmer Square development and a new, larger, inn opened at 10 Palmer Square in 1938. The hotel's restaurant, the Yankee Doodle Tap Room, has a large mural by Norman Rockwell, depicting Yankee Doodle, behind the bar. It is within walking distance of Princeton University.
The Princeton Battle Monument is located in Princeton, New Jersey, adjacent to Morven and Princeton's borough hall. The Monument commemorates the January 3, 1777 Battle of Princeton, and depicts General George Washington leading his troops to victory and the death of General Hugh Mercer. It stands 50 feet (15 m) tall and was inspired by carvings on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Designed to visually anchor the western end of Nassau Street, the monument and its park are a legacy of the City Beautiful movement.
Princeton University was founded in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1746 as the College of New Jersey, shortly before moving into the newly-built Nassau Hall in Princeton. In 1783, for about four months Nassau Hall hosted the United States Congress, and many of the students went on to become leaders of the young republic.
The University Hall (1770) at Brown University is the first and oldest building on campus located in Providence, Rhode Island.
The Albert Einstein House at 112 Mercer Street in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States was the home of Albert Einstein from 1935 until his death in 1955. His wife Elsa Einstein died in 1936 while living in this house.
Washington at Princeton is a 1779 painting by Charles Willson Peale, showing George Washington after the Battle of Princeton. The original was commissioned by the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania for its council chamber in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Peale made eight copies of the painting. The original, now owned by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, was completed in early 1779, when Washington sat for Peale in Philadelphia.
The Joseph Henry House is a historic building located on the campus of Princeton University in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. Joseph Henry, a prominent American physicist who worked in electromagnetics, designed the house in 1836 and lived there from its completion in 1838 until taking a position as the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1848. The construction of the house was offered to the young physicist as part of the University's attempt to hire him away from the Albany Academy in an attempt to raise Princeton's profile. After Henry's departure, the house served as the official housing of the Dean of the College, the University's senior undergraduate academic officer, from 1909 to 1961.
The Princeton Battlefield in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States, is where American and British troops fought each other on January 3, 1777 in the Battle of Princeton during the American Revolutionary War. The battle ended when the British soldiers in Nassau Hall surrendered. This success, following those at the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776 and the Battle of the Assunpink Creek the day before, helped improve American morale.
Prospect House, known also as just Prospect, in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States, is a fine example of the work of architect John Notman who helped popularize Italianate architecture in America.
The President's House, also known as the John Maclean House, or simply the Maclean House, in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States, was built to serve as the home of the President of the College of New Jersey, which later became Princeton University. It was completed in 1756, the same year as Nassau Hall. John Witherspoon lived here from 1768 through 1779, during which time he served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence. George Washington occupied Maclean House in January 1777, during the Battle of Princeton and in 1783 while Congress met in Nassau Hall.
The Princeton Historic District is a 370-acre (150 ha) historic district located in Princeton, New Jersey that was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It stretches from Marquand Park in the west to the Eating Clubs in the East, from the Princeton Cemetery in the north to the Graduate College in the south. The district encompasses the core parts of the campuses of the Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University. It also includes the business district centered on Nassau Street and many historic homes, both mansions in the western section and more humble dwellings in the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood. Notable churches within the district include Nassau Presbyterian Church, Trinity Episcopal, Nassau Christian Center, and the Princeton University Chapel. The district is home to seven of Princeton's nine, and New Jersey's fifty-eight, National Historic Landmarks, the largest concentration of such sites in the state.
FitzRandolph Gate is a wrought-iron structure that serves as the official entrance of Princeton University, standing in front of Nassau Hall on Nassau Street in Princeton, New Jersey. The gate was funded by a bequest of Augustus Van Wickle in honor of his great-grandfather, Nathaniel FitzRandolph, who had donated to the university the land on which Nassau Hall sits. The gate was completed in 1905 and was designed by McKim, Mead & White. The gate remained closed and locked apart from graduation and the P-rade until 1970, when that graduating class ensured that it would always remain open, "in a symbol of the University's openness to the local and worldwide community."
The King's Highway Historic District covers the portions of U.S. Route 206 and New Jersey Route 27 in New Jersey that connect Lawrenceville with Kingston through Princeton. This historic roadway dates to colonial times and was a portion of the King's Highway that was laid out by order of Charles II of England to connect Boston with Charleston. It is lined with many institutions and sites that have played an important role in the History of the United States, including Princeton University and the Princeton Theological Seminary.
The Walter Lowrie House is located at 83 Stockton Street in Princeton, New Jersey and is the official residence of the president of Princeton University. The mansion was built in 1845 by Commodore Robert F. Stockton for his son John P. Stockton, both senators from New Jersey. Prior to being a senator the younger Stockton had served as the Attorney General of New Jersey and later as ambassador to Italy. Commodore Stockton was the son of Richard Stockton, another New Jersey Senator, and grandson of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The latter Richard Stockton built Morven in the 18th century, which sits a short distance up Stockton Street. His grandfather's home, known as the "Barracks" is found at 32 Edgehill Street, the street which fronts the gate to the Walter Lowrie House property. It was built in the 17th century and gained its name from having served as a barracks in either the French and Indian War or the American Revolution.
Just as Princeton seniors have done for sixty-five years, the class of 1934 planted a new shoot of ivy to twine its way up the historic walls of Nassau Hall today.
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