Planet Princeton

Coalition to Save Westminster Will Seek Historic Landmark Preservation Status for Princeton Campus

Westminster Choir College, Rider University

Members of the Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College in Princeton will attend the public meeting of the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission tonight to call on officials to grant historic landmark status to the 23-acre campus.

Westminster Choir College is a four-year music college and graduate school that prepares students for careers as professional performers and as music leaders in schools, universities, churches and community organizations.

Rider University owns and operates the choir college in downtown Princeton. Last month, the president of Rider University said school officials are considering closing the Princeton campus and selling the property. The choir college program would be moved to the main campus in Lawrence. The proposal comes as Rider University faces significant financial woes.

Many alumni, community members and music professionals argue that moving the choir college programs to Lawrence would destroy the character of the program, which is consistently ranked one of the top ten music programs in the country.

The campus has attracted international talent like Arturo Toscanini, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Leonard Bernstein, Ricardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Mazur, Alan Gilbert, Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The historic commission meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the main meeting room at the municipal building, which is located at 400 Witherspoon Street in Princeton.

Historic landmark designation can be made at various levels – local, state and national.

Constance Fee, president of the Alumni Council of Westminster Choir College, will be representing the Coalition. The group is retaining experts to formally submit an application at the local level.

The college’s move to Princeton in 1932 was supported by Princeton University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the governor of the State of New Jersey.

“History reminds us that the halls of Westminster Choir College here in Princeton have been the home to extraordinary people creating extraordinary music that has enriched the world,” Fee said. “And while we speak of land marking bricks and mortar it with the appreciation that these structures have placed the Princeton community at the epicenter of a global cultural community.”

Choir college alumni appeared on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” today to perform and discuss the future of their alma mater.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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