Princeton Battle Monument gets $50,000 infusion

Illumination plan more than halfway toward goal

By: Marjorie Censer
   The Princeton Parks Alliance announced it has received a $50,000 state "special purpose" grant to fund the Princeton Battle Monument’s illumination — putting the group well on its way to meeting its $125,000 goal.
   Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton Borough) facilitated the organization’s funding application to the state. The state also has budgeted funds to clean the state-owned monument and is slated to begin the six-month project this spring.
   Combined with a recently announced $25,000 commitment from Princeton University and $5,000 in individual contributions, the state grant provides enough funding for the group to embark on the design phase of the project, said Andrew Koontz, the alliance’s president.
   Mr. Koontz said the organization hopes to raise the remainder of the funds through corporate and individual contributions and will cap the process with a fundraiser at Palmer House on April 29. The event will feature a cocktail reception and a speaker who will address the historical significance of the Battle of Princeton and the monument.
   The late Mayor Joseph O’Neill originally headed the project, and his wife, Anne O’Neill, will chair the fundraiser. She said she was thrilled by news of the grant.
   "I’m delighted that Reed Gusciora thought this was worth his time and energy," Ms. O’Neill said. "It’s wonderful to have such a fabulous head start."
   Princeton resident Charles Stone, a principal of the New York-based architectural lighting design firm Fisher Marantz Stone, will design the lighting scheme. The permanent illumination is slated to be complete by Jan. 3, 2007 — the 230th anniversary of the Battle of Princeton.
   The monument commemorates the Jan. 3, 1777, Battle of Princeton with a depiction of George Washington leading his troops into battle and the death of Gen. Hugh Mercer.
   The limestone monument was designed by the Beaux Arts sculptor Frederick MacMonnies with the help of architect Thomas Hastings. Commissioned in 1908, it was finished and dedicated in 1922 with President Warren G. Harding in attendance.
   The park around the monument underwent a major renovation in 1999 when a vehicular driveway was transformed into a graveled pedestrian mall lined with teak benches leading up to a new cobblestone plaza in front of the monument.