Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate Presents Landmark Home with Countless Claims to Fame

Posted by — September 25, 2005

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate Presents Landmark Home with Countless Claims to FameEvery home has a story. In a town that's as rich in history and architecture as Princeton, New Jersey, sometimes a property can have many claims to fame.

This is the case with the home at 12 Morven Place, which is currently being marketed by Gail Firestone of the Princeton office of Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate. 

Built in 1828, this home has been a highlight of the Princeton Historical Society House Tour. It has such a celebrated past and has been so well maintained over the years that it is tough to know where to start. Even the front gate is a priceless piece of Princeton history. The home was designed by famed local architect Charles Steadman, who employed a Federal-Greek Revival clapboard design, reinforced by a brick core for strength and better insulation. Steadman employed classical design elements. He characteristically made use of columns, decorative pediments and ornate entrances marked by side and top lights and elaborate foyers. All of these elements are found in the home at Morven Place.  The house originally stood on Nassau Street, next to the First Presbyterian Church and was moved to its present location in 1905. The wrought-iron fence and gate in front of the home once stood before Princeton University's Nassau Hall. Through the years, the home was owned and visited by many. It is most often referred to as the Samuel Ladd Howell House, after the prominent physician who was the home's first occupant. Later, the house served as faculty housing for the university. Famous faculty who lived in the home include Stephen Alexander (who introduced astronomy as a separate discipline at Princeton) and noted religion professor Albert Dod.

A full history of the previous owners, plus copies of the floor plans and additional documents, will be one of a pair of gifts the current homeowner will give to the buyer. The second is a framed and preserved pane of glass from a third-floor window in which President James Buchanan etched his signature during a visit when he was Secretary of State.

The great history of this home is complemented by its comfort and modern air. Many historic homes feel cramped. However, the house on Morven Place is spacious. It features a timeless design that is a good fit for today's modern tastes. The current owners have added central air conditioning and have completed several upgrades.

Visitors who walk through the ornate foyer are greeted by a formal living room and family room to the left and a formal dining room to the right. The dining room is accentuated by a large built-in sideboard that's conveniently close to the completely modern kitchen. Lalique lamps light this gourmet's dream, which offers abundant counter space, high-quality appliances and a casual breakfast area. This adjoins a pantry, which was once part of the rear porch, and includes the home's original copper sink.

The rest of the grand porch has been retained, and overlooks the lush rear yard to create a private suburban oasis.

The basement features one of the two secluded studies found in the home. It's very quiet, due in part to soundproofing and to the thick surrounding stone foundation.

The home's second level features four bedrooms with unusually large proportions for a historic home. The third level contains the second study and additional bedroom. There's also a full bath with an antique claw foot tub.

All told, the home features five bedrooms, three and a half baths and two studies. It is priced at $2,695,000.

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