Should Princeton Save Or Tear Down This Historic Home?

31-33 Lytle Street Princeton, which faces the wrecking ball. (click to expand)

31-33 Lytle Street Princeton, which faces the wrecking ball. (click to expand)

It has period features, elegant styling, and is a short walk to Palmer Square, with all the attractions of downtown Princeton. This historic home, next to a park, has housed generations of Princeton residents in its cozy interior. It may need some TLC, but for the right buyer, this is an opportunity to be part of one of Princeton’s most famed neighborhoods. Does this sound like the kind of place where you’d like to live? Then you might be surprised to learn that the town of Princeton is buying the property at 31-33 Lytle Street…to tear it down!

As reported in last week’s “Princeton Packet”, the town is planning to purchase 31-33 Lytle Street using money from the Open Space Fund at an estimated cost of $575K. The lot at 33 Lytle Street includes a house which sold last year for $345K. 31 Lytle Street is an empty lot. The town will tear down the colonial-style home at 33 Lytle Street and use the land to expand Mary Moss Park on John Street, which borders the back of the property.

Mary Moss Park on John Street in Princeton: set for expansion and renovation. (click to expand.)

Mary Moss Park on John Street in Princeton: set for expansion and renovation. (click to expand.)

Renovations of Mary Moss Park have been planned for some time, but the newly-announced expansion of the pocket-park comes at a time when the town is considering spending $4 million to upgrade Community Park South, 4 blocks to the north. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that Princeton’s historic preservation community are silent at the prospect of an authentic piece of Princeton history being consigned to the wrecking ball. The property at 31-33 Lytle Street is part of Princeton’s close-knit Witherspoon-John neighborhood. The neighborhood predates almost all the residential areas in the former Township, which appear as fields in the map from 1952 shown below:

Lytle Streetis  just south-west of the 'hospital' site marked on this Princeton map from 1952.

Lytle Street is south-west of the ‘Hospital’ site marked on this Princeton map from 1952. (Via USGS Historical Topographic Maps Explorer –  Click to expand.)

The expansion of Mary Moss Park is sure to provide an amenity to local residents, but it seems a pity to lose part of Princeton’s historic texture. Converting a long-standing residential property to a park certainly represents a change in the character of the neighborhood, but maybe this is the type of change that is acceptable or even desired by neighbors.

What do you think? Is it OK to knock down a historic structure if it gains a new park? Let us know in the comments section below…

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One Response to Should Princeton Save Or Tear Down This Historic Home?

  1. wow says:

    I don’t think this is money well-spent.
    1) The existing park is not well maintained – if the money wasn’t available for upkeep of a small park how will they pay for a larger one?
    2) To my mind this area is already well served for open spaces being in very close proximity to community park complex. And the new park planned in the nearby Avalon Bay complex. Do we really needed an extended park in this location?
    3) Why has the property price nearly doubled in a year? Seems like the town is paying over the odds.
    4) This is going to reduce housing stock in Princeton and destroy an attractive house in a desirable location.

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