TRENTON, N.J. - Mercer County is celebrating its 175th Anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion, events showcasing Mercer County’s rich cultural history will be presented throughout 2013.
Mercer County is an architectural microcosm of the Nation, with great buildings, architects and sites from every historic period of the United States represented: 17th century to the present. As part of the Mercer 175th Anniversary celebration, the County of Mercer and Preservation NJ will present a day-long symposium, Mercer by Architecture, to explore a portion of its long history through its architecture, followed by the Historic Mercer Open House Weekend.
Architects, historians, appreciators of history, and lovers of great buildings are all invited to attend on Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., on the historic campus of the Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville. The Historic Mercer Open House Weekend will follow on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10 and 11, as a complement to the symposium event.
The Aug. 9 symposium will begin with breakfast and registration at 8:30 a.m., followed by welcome remarks by Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. At 9:30, W. Barksdale Maynard will deliver the keynote address, “Princeton: America’s Campus – Architecture in History and Context.”
Two programs will follow, the first of which is titled “Architecture of Place: History of Housing in Mercer.” Presenters will include Philip A. Hayden, “Vernacular Farmhouses and Kitchens, Hopewell Township, 1720-1820”; Janet W. Foster, “Patternbook Housing and the Influence of Agricultural Journals in 19th Century Mercer”; and J. Robert Hillier, FAIA, “Architectural Issues in Housing Today.”
The second session, “Architecture of Space: Public Architecture and Mercer,” will take place after lunch. Presenters will include Kate Nearpass Ogden, “Mercer in Context: Some Highlights of County Architecture”; Michael J. Mills, FAIA, “The NJ Capitol Complex”; and Michael Graves, FAIA, “Response and Closing Thoughts.” Meredith Arms Bzdak will serve as moderator throughout the day.
For the Historic Mercer Open House Weekend Aug. 10-11, there are almost 40 participating historic sites in every part of Mercer County that explore this area’s history from Colonial and Federalist times (1700 – 1820), through the Revival, Industrial and Modernist periods. Many historic sites have special hours of operation and are open to the public in celebration of the weekend-long event. There will also be special guided tours and events. Locate sites throughout the county by visiting http://bit.ly/1aVk237.
More information about the weekend events can be found at www.mercer175.org.
One of the oldest sites is the William Trent House (1719) in Trenton along the Delaware http://www.williamtrenthouse.org/ People visiting there can also visit the Ellarslie Mansion in the center of Cadwalader Park designed by the famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead. (Olmstead designed only two landscapes in the County and both are included in this tour – the other is on the Lawrenceville School campus), the historic Old Barracks, can enjoy a special insiders’ tour of the NJ State House and Annex and then visit The Contemporary Victorian Museum across the street. There are beautiful mansions and historic farmsteads including the Phillips House at Howell Living History Farm, the Robbins House in Robbinsville, Kuser Mansion in Hamilton, and the Schenck Farmstead in West Windsor. Working farms with a 200-year+ history (Lee Farm in East Windsor), one-room schoolhouses (Union School in Robbinsville), and historic train stations (Hopewell) are also going to be featured.
Some of the county’s oldest places of worship are also opening their doors, offering a special opportunity to visit these places where so many of this area’s (and this nation’s) founding fathers and mothers congregated and discussed the great issues at hand. Special opportunities include a rare opportunity to visit the Faculty Room at Nassau Hall, the oldest building on the historic Princeton University campus and a walking tour of the Circle on the Lawrenceville School’s campus – one of the 14 National Historic Landmarks in Mercer County -- an astonishing number of N.H.Landmarks for such a small county. Eight of these will be part of this weekend. And not to neglect the lovers of modernism, the Louis I. Kahn Trenton Bathhouse in Ewing, the Princeton Art Museum, and the NJ State Museum – each early modernist gems – will all have hours on both Saturday and Sunday.
Future events will take place at locations around the County. Watch the Mercer County 175th Anniversary website for future dates: www.mercer175.org. If you are interested in scanning your historical photographs for the Mercer County collection, information is available on the website. Scanning may also be done at Mercer County’s McDade Administration Building, 640 South Broad St., Trenton, by appointment, 609-989-6597.