Colonial Club is one of the eleven current eating clubs of Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. Founded in 1891, it is the fifth oldest of the clubs. It is located on 40 Prospect Avenue.
The club occupies a large mansion on the north side of Prospect Avenue in Princeton, NJ. The building is easily recognizable by its four large white columns fashioned in Colonial style, and it was meant to compete in size with Cottage Club. After originally occupying several locations farther away from campus, the current house was built during a time of strong rivalry between eating clubs, across the street from rival clubs Ivy and Cottage. F. Scott Fitzgerald referred to it as "flamboyant Colonial" in This Side of Paradise, and defined it as being one of the "top five" clubs - along with Ivy, Cottage, Cap & Gown, and Tiger Inn.
Among the Princetonians who were involved in the World War II code-breaking at Bletchley Park, most were from Colonial Club according to an article entitled "Princetonians in the Ultra Service" in the 5-27-1975 issue (pp. 10–13) of the Princeton Alumni Weekly.
Formerly a "bicker" club (as all eating clubs were) the club went non-selective in 1969 and also opened the door for women to join the club. Currently, Colonial is one of five non-selective, or "sign-in," clubs. The other five clubs retain the bicker process for selecting new members. Colonial is known among current students for its openness in both membership and in admission to festivities and events. The club usually refuses to go "on pass" (a method of restricting admission to an event to only members and holders of colored cards obtained from club members) and instead opens its doors to all Princeton undergraduate students.
Colonial provides many novel events such as bonfires and a zipline on their front lawn.
Interest in the club reached a low point in 1999 when only 26 members of the class of 2001 signed in to Colonial. Aggressive event planning by the classes of 2000 and 2001, along with generous alumni support and an enthusiastic and dedicated class of 2002, brought the club back from the brink. This was at least the third time the club had been rescued from near-oblivion; 1982 and 1988 also had very low sign-in numbers. In 2010, however, Colonial managed to recruit only 13 members in the first round of sign-ins; this was a massive drop from the 87 first round sign-ins from the previous year. The club was still able to attract a substantial number of new members during the second round of sign-ins that same year. In 2011, however, a huge turnaround occurred when over 130 sophomores signed-in to the club, which was the largest number of sophomores to join any of the eating clubs.
Pete Conrad '53, the third man to walk on the moon, was a Colonial member. Conrad carried five Princeton flags to the moon; he later gave one to the club. Unfortunately, this memento was destroyed in a fire while it was being framed for display.
Other famous Colonial alumni include the late former Rhode Island senator Claiborne Pell '40, famous for creation of Pell grants in 1973; Norman Thomas 1905, the chief Socialist in the United States and perennial Socialist candidate in every presidential election from 1928 to 1948; noted Princeton illustrator William B. Pell 1898; Eric Schmidt '76, CEO of Google; and Wentworth Miller '95, star of the popular TV series Prison Break. Edward F. Cox '68 married Tricia Nixon in the Rose Garden at the White House on 6-12-1971.
- *Hu, Winnie (July 29, 2007). "More Than a Meal Plan". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
- From Princeton to Primetime: 'Prison Break' star Wentworth Miller '95 remembers his time on campus. Labatt, Grace. The Daily Princetonian, November 10, 2005.