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Former homes of Michael Graves, J. Seward Johnson Jr. part of Historical Society of Princeton 2017 House Tour

75 Cleveland Lane. Rendering courtesy of Grant Homes Custom Builders.

The Historical Society of Princeton 16th annual House Tour features five homes, including architect Michael Graves’ residence and the former estate J. Seward Johnson Jr. Self-guided tours will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4.

This year’s homes:

75 Cleveland Lane – The Princeton landmark, the former estate of J. Seward Johnson Jr. and Kristina Johnson, was designed by Ernest Flagg in the 1920s. Flagg, a notable American architect, also designed the Scribner Building in New York City and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Recently spared from demolition, the estate received a top-to-bottom renovation from Grant Homes Custom Builders. The Chateau-style stone mansion and carriage house feature high-end, custom details, including a Christopher Peacock kitchen and a built-in sound system with 26 speakers. Historic architectural features, like exposed stone walls and beams, carved banisters, and a cement tile floor have been preserved.

73 Library Place – Designed in 1897-1898 by the Philadelphia-based architectural firm of Cope and Stewardson, the half-timbered Tudor Revival house was built for Princeton University Mathematics professor and Dean of Faculty H.B. Fine, after whom Fine Hall is named. Cope and Stewardson designed several Princeton campus buildings, including Blair Hall and the Ivy Club. The homeowners have preserved historic architectural features such as decorative plaster ceilings, hand-leaded windows, original wood paneling, carved wooden archways, and gargoyles. Previous owners added to the home’s history by installing chandeliers from the famed Paramount Theater in New York City when the theater closed in the mid-20th century.

44 Patton Avenue – Also known as “The Warehouse,” the historic building served as Michael Graves’ personal home for more than forty years and was recently purchased by Kean University. The University’s College of Architecture and Design bears Graves’ name. Graves was a Princeton-based, world-renowned post-modernist architect who took on the renovation of this home himself. The Warehouse, built in 1927, originally served as a storage warehouse for the Italian stonemasons who built Princeton University’s neo-Gothic campus buildings. The house serves as the prime and personal example of Graves’ design philosophy.

50 Patton Avenue – With a golden stone façade, broad porch, and spectacular views of the Michael Graves residence, this bungalow was renovated by local interior designer Katie Eastridge. Unique historic features such as a Moravian tile fireplace, a claw-foot tub, and original hardwood floors coexist with contemporary additions, including glazed cement tiles in the fully renovated kitchen.The design alludes to the owners’ love of books.

40 Mercer Street – Princeton architect Charles Steadman built this house and its semi-detached neighbor in the 1830s, as part of the most intact surviving neighborhood for Princeton’s early middle-class settlers. Sometimes referred to as Princeton’s first real estate developer, Steadman designed more than 70 buildings in Princeton, including Nassau Presbyterian Church. As the leader of Princeton’s Greek Revival, Steadman leaves a visible architectural legacy in the town, with about 40 of his designs still standing. The house renovation includes a curtained sun porch, a breakfast room, and a modern kitchen, while preserving period details like knobs, plaster molding, and fireplaces.

“Princeton’s uniqueness and historicity as a town is grounded in its remarkable built environment,” said Historical Society of Princeton Executive Director, Izzy Kasdin. “This year’s tour, in particular, showcases and recognizes homeowners who have been excellent stewards of Princeton’s historic architectural gems. The house tour provides an opportunity to truly connect with the places we pass every day, and is always an enjoyable experience for all involved.”

Advance tickets for the tour are $45 for Historical Society of Princeton members and $50 for non-members. All tickets purchased the day of the tour are $50. Proceeds help fund the Historical Society’s activities throughout the year, including exhibitions, collections care, and educational programming for schools and families.

For more information or to purchase tickets,  call 609-921-6748, ext. 105. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.princetonhistory.org. On the day of the event, tickets may be purchased at the Updike Farmstead at 354 Quaker Road, or by cash and check at any of the five homes on the tour.

This year’s lead tour sponsors are Baxter Construction, Charles Schwab, and Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty.

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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