Bateman and Gusciora Ask for Meeting with Institute Trustees to Discuss Princeton Battlefield

State Senator Kip Bateman and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora wrote a letter May 4 requesting a meeting with representatives from the Institute for Advanced Study Board of Trustees to discuss plans to build 15 faculty housing units on the 22-acre Maxwell’s Field Tract, which was part of the historic Battle of Princeton.

The trustees for the Institute are meeting in Princeton this week.

“As you are aware, this development project is the subject of debate – both nationally and locally – because of the property’s unique historic connection to the 1777 Battle of Princeton,” reads the letter.
“There is no question about the historic importance of the property.”

The letter then lists the various organizations and agencies that have recognized the site’s historic significance. The National Park Service has identified all of Maxwell’s Field as within the Princeton Battlefield’s historic boundary, with 60 percent of the property identified as core battlefield land. Half of the Maxwell’s Field Tract is included within the Princeton Battlefield National Historic Landmark boundary. And the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office affirmed the historic significance of the property in 2003 and 2007.

“Despite this overwhelming evidence, the official position of IAS, as indicated on the Institute website, is that this property is not historically significant. In taking this stance the Institute is doing itself and the local community a disservice,” reads the letter.

The legislators then go on to say that the Institute’s argument rests on a 2011 study by two historians who were hired by the Institute to find fault with the Battle of Princeton Mapping Study.

“We can all agree that IAS should not be staking its reputation on a report produced by consultants hired with a pre-ordained result in mind,” reads the letter. “As members of the New Jersey Legislature, we believe it is in the interest of the State of New Jersey, as well as the Institute for Advanced Study, to find a solution that both preserves this unique historic treasure and enables IAS to build the faculty housing elsewhere.”

The two call for a partnership between the Institute and the state to make the park a jewel of the state park system.

“A meeting between ourselves and representatives if the IAS board would be a natural first step toward finding a solution and developing a partnership,” reads the letter. “It cannot hurt to meet.”


  1. Ha! IAS thought they had it all sewn up. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall when that letter arrived!

  2. The IAS has tons of land, including the agricultural fields off of Quaker Bridge Road. Why must it fall on its sword over this particular location the significance of which is disputed?

    I’m not sure that many (if any) of the fellows there have any idea of the sacrifices that General Washington and his men – including the now fashionable Colonel Hamilton – made for us.

    Johnny Von Neumann – perhaps its most illustrious past member – did. A patriot without parallel, he was indispensable to President Eisenhower and General Schreiver during the beginning of the Cold War. My guess is that he would not be pleased with his beloved Institute.

  3. the Institute can do as it pleases, but if it were me, I would tell these two opportunists to take a hike. The Institute has donated hundreds of acres to create the Battlefield State Park (and also provided land for the Institute Woods). The current housing plan will protect even more land adjacent to the park. To demand that they give up yet more of their campus seems to call into question the status of the Institute as a residential community of scholars. The battle is worth commemorating and it is commemorated with a very large park (which has sadly never benefited from appropriate interpretive signage or paths). The IAS is also worth defending as a local research institute of world-class standing.

    1. Thank you, SFB. Perfectly put. And I think most people in our community feel the same way. I hope that our representatives can find something more useful and constructive to do with their time.

      1. The Battlefield Society can solicit donations from their many members and sympathizers – nationally and locally – and offer to buy the IAS’ land and/or the development rights. The rights of private property were well regarded in the 13 colonies fighting for freedom 240 years ago.

        Using the power of the State to take IAS’ land without due compensation is something that George IIIrd would have thought was quite proper.

    2. The Institute can do as it pleases?? SFB you sound like an intellectual JERK!! The Institute must be a GOOD NEIGHBOR by respecting the land in which it occupies and it sadly has forgotten that.

      The land is hallowed ground which has been left undisturbed and undeveloped forever. Why now in 2016 develop the property, when other properties owned by the Institute sit vacant and underutilized?

      The good news is that there is National and Political attention being brought to this situation.

  4. This project needs to be stopped. Drove past the site recently and it’s an absolute disgrace. I can’t wait to see when IAS has to restore the land to its natural state and honor those who fought on it for our FREEDOM. All of our freedom, even yours SFB.

    1. Yes it will cost them a FORTUNE to restore the land. This is going to be a real embarrassment for IAS. They best start trying to save face before they embarrass themselves EVEN MORE!!

      The Donald has Spoken!

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