Frequently Asked Questions:

Agreement Reached to Preserve 15 acres of Historic Land at the Princeton Battlefield

What is being preserved and what is being built?

The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) has agreed to sell the Civil War Trust 14.85 acres of land associated with the 1777 battle of Princeton as part of a compromise agreement that will enable IAS to build 16 townhouses for its Faculty adjacent to its existing campus.  The land sold to the Trust will eventually be transferred to the State of New Jersey for eventual incorporation into the existing Princeton Battlefield State Park.

How much of Maxwell’s Field will be preserved?

Approximately 66 percent (13.73 acres) of the 21-acre Maxwell’s Field property, currently owned by IAS, will be sold to the Civil War Trust.  IAS has also agreed to sell an additional 1.12-acre tract adjacent to Maxwell’s Field to the Trust.  A scenic buffer will be installed between the IAS townhouse development and the preserved lands; the .6-acre buffer will be protected with a conservation easement. 

How did the discussions come about?

The Civil War Trust initially contacted IAS, which prompted a dialogue between the two groups about the best way to reach an agreement that would benefit each party’s goals. The Civil War Trust and IAS are both satisfied with the result they reached. 

What is the significance of this change for the housing options?  

The plan now calls for eight additional townhouses, instead of seven single home lots, which in turn preserves more land without compromising housing options.

Where will the townhouses be located?

The 16 townhouses will be located east of Gödel Lane, the entrance road located on Maxwell’s Field.  As noted above, the townhouses will be screened from the state park with a scenic buffer composed of trees native to the region.  The townhouses will serve as residences for IAS faculty, providing them with walkable access to the campus.  The townhouse development is clustered outside the Princeton Battlefield National Historic Landmark, first designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1961.

What is the financial nature of this agreement?

IAS agreed to give up plans to build seven single family homes on Maxwell’s Field and sell 14.85 acres of land to the Civil War Trust.  In exchange, the Trust will support the new plan, which replaces the single-family homes with townhouses, and pay $4 million (including $2.6 million for the land, and $1.4 million for restoration of the property and some reconstruction of the existing development plan.)

What governmental approvals are required?

The original IAS plan had received all necessary local government approvals.  The agreement between IAS and the Trust is contingent on review and approval by the Princeton Planning Commission and the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission.  Public hearings are expected early next year.

What about existing legal challenges?

As part of the compromise agreement, the Princeton Battlefield Society and other plaintiffs in existing legal challenges have agreed to suspend litigation until the Civil War Trust formally takes ownership of the properties.  Upon closing, the Society and plaintiffs will abandon all legal challenges associated with the IAS development.  Closing is scheduled for December 15, 2017.

What are the benefits for battlefield preservation?

After closing, the Civil War Trust will work with IAS, Princeton Battlefield State Park and the Princeton Battlefield Society to interpret the property and restore it to its wartime appearance.  The Trust intends to work with the state park to open up the newly preserved lands and create a seamless experience for park visitors.

Why is the property so significant? 

Located adjacent to the existing Princeton Battlefield State Park, Maxwell’s Field was the scene of fighting during the January 3, 1777 Battle of Princeton.  The right-wing of George Washington’s famous counterattack at Princeton charged across this field.  The British line, composed primarily of the 17th Regiment of Foot, was located on the northern part of the property.  Washington’s counterattack broke that line and forced the British to retreat in two different directions, toward Trenton and Princeton.  

What is Institute for Advanced Study?

The Institute, founded in 1930, is a private, independent academic institution located in Princeton, New Jersey. Its more than 6,000 former Members hold positions of intellectual and scientific leadership throughout the academic world.  Thirty-three Nobel Laureates and 41 out of 56 Fields Medalists, as well as many winners of the Wolf and MacArthur prizes, have been affiliated with the Institute.  The Institute currently owns Maxwell’s Field.

What is the Civil War Trust?

The Civil War Trust is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving America’s historic battlefields.  Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, through its Campaign 1776 initiative, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.  The Trust announced Campaign 1776 during a news conference in Princeton on Veteran’s Day 2014.  To date, the Trust has preserved more than 43,000 acres of battlefield land in 23 states. 

About the Battle of Princeton

The Battle of Princeton, fought January 3, 1777, was one of the most decisive battles of the American Revolution.  It was the culmination of an audacious, 10-day campaign that began with George Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware on Christmas Day 1776.  In a series of daring maneuvers, Washington succeeded in attacking isolated elements of the British army.  His decisive counterattack at Princeton marked his first victory over British regulars in the field, and revitalized the cause of American independence.

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