Drumthwacket in 2007.
|Location||354 Stockton Street
Princeton, New Jersey
|Architectural style||Greek Revival
|Governing body||State of New Jersey|
|NRHP Reference #||75001142 |
|Added to NRHP||June 10, 1975|
Drumthwacket is the official residence of the governor of New Jersey. The mansion is located at 354 Stockton Street in Princeton, close to the state capital of Trenton. (It is one of only four official governor's residences in the country that is not located within its state capital; the other three are in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Tennessee.)
Drumthwacket and the surrounding land was sold to the state in 1966 and was designated as the governor's mansion in 1982. The estate is administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The non-profit Drumthwacket Foundation is responsible for preserving, restoring, and curating the house and grounds. In addition to being an executive residence, the home is also a historic house museum. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
The land that it is built upon was once owned by William Penn, the Quaker proprietor of the Province of Pennsylvania. William Olden acquired the property in 1696. A small white homestead by Stockton Street called Olden House was later built on the site, and in 1799 Charles Smith Olden was born there. Olden gained wealth working at a mercantile firm in Philadelphia and later New Orleans before returning to Princeton, where he began to build Drumthwacket in 1835, giving it its name from two Scottish Gaelic words that mean "wooded hill." Olden began his involvement in politics as a gentleman farmer and businessman, as treasurer and Trustee of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), as a state Senator, and finally as governor in 1860, when he became the first governor to live at Drumthwacket. The original structure consisted of a center hall with two rooms on each side, including the 2 1⁄2-story center section and large portico with six Ionic columns, which remains today.
In 1893, the financier, industrialist, and Princeton University benefactor Moses Taylor Pyne purchased Drumthwacket for the sum of $15,000 from Olden's widow. Pyne was responsible for major expansions of the home, turning it into a magnificent estate. Pyne's enlargements transformed the estate, completely "surpassing anything previously built in Princeton." Pyne's huge wealth allowed him to add two wings on each side of the house, in 1893 and 1900, both designed by Raleigh C. Gildersleeve (who also designed many Princeton University buildings) and including a paneled library. Pyne also added park-like landscaping, greenhouses, bridle paths, a dairy farm, and formal Italian gardens.
Pyne died in 1921; the property, including the house and twelve surrounding acres, was sold by Pyne's one grandchild Agnes Pyne in 1941 to Abram Nathaniel Spanel. Spanel was an industrialist and inventor who had immigrated from Russia as a child. He founded the International Latex Corporation, which later became the International Playtex Corporation. Many of Spanel's engineers staff lived at Drumthwacket, and many of his patented inventions were conceived in what later became known as the Music Room.
In 1966, the Spanels sold the estate to New Jersey with the intent that it be used as the governor's official residence, to replace Morven, the old governor's mansion. However, it took 15 years for the estate to be used as an official residence, with the New Jersey Historical Society in 1981 finally raising enough funds. In 1982, the Drumthwacket Foundation was formed.
Use by the Governors
- Thomas Kean (1982–1990) lived in his private home.
- James Florio (1990–1994) lived full-time in the mansion.
- Christine Todd Whitman (1994–2001) lived part-time in the mansion.
- Donald DiFrancesco (2001–2002) lived part-time in the mansion.
- John O. Bennett (2002) lived in the mansion for his 3½ days as Acting Governor.
- James McGreevey (2002–2004) lived full-time in the mansion.
- Richard Codey (2004–2006) lived part-time in the mansion.
- Jon Corzine (2006–2010) lived part-time in the mansion. Drumthwacket became his full-time residence while he was recovering from injuries sustained in a severe automobile accident.
- Chris Christie (2010–) uses the mansion for Sunday dinners and official functions, while living in his private home.
Building details and tours
There are 12 private rooms upstairs used by the first family and six public rooms on the main floor that are the site of many official functions. An annual Garden Club holiday display is a tradition at the property.
Drumthwacket is open for guided tours on most Wednesdays, except for the entire month of August, the day before Thanksgiving, and several other dates. The tour includes the six public rooms used by the governor for meetings and receptions, as well as the solarium, center hall, dining room, parlor, music room, library, and governor's study. Guided tours are conducted by volunteer docents. Visitors are also welcome to walk through the gardens and visit the Olden House, the restored farmhouse on the property that is home to the gift shop and Drumthwacket Foundation.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15.
- "The History." Drumthwacket Foundation.
- Chen, David W. (April 30, 2007). "Corzine to Make Early Exit From Hospital Monday". The New York Times. Retrieved July 30, 2008.
- "Christie: I won’t live at Drumthwacket", The Trentonian, November 7, 2009.
- Lauren Payne, "Christmas At Drumthwacket" (November 17, 2010). New Jersey Monthly.
- "Visit Drumthwacket." Drumthwacket Foundation.
- Drumthwacket Foundation official website