Marquand Park is a well preserved example of a 19th century landscaped garden. The park was once part of the Woodlawn estate purchased in 1842 by Richard Stockton Field, a successful lawyer and professor at Princeton University. Field had a great interest in gardening and was the founder and first president of the New Jersey Horticultural Society. In 1846, he commissioned John Notman, a Philadelphia architect, to design a landscaped garden and later a mansion for his property.**
The garden was developed first. We do not know how closely the 1846 Notman design was followed but both Field and Notman had direct knowledge of A. J. Downing’s principles of gardening*** and his picturesque style is still very present in the current layout of the park. Field was fortunate to secure the services of an experienced gardener, Edward Noice, to oversee the work. Early plantings included native oaks, beeches, a Cedar of Lebanon, white pines, rhododendrons, and a Japanese Arbor Vitae. Although most of the property was designed as a landscaped garden, a wooded area along Mercer Street remained relatively untouched and is still the home of some of the park’s oldest trees, many 200 years or older. An Italianate mansion was added to the property around 1853-1855.
In 1871, the estate was bought by Susan Dob Brown. She lived at Woodlawn with her son Albert. Albert was not only interested in plants but also in one of the daughters of Edward Noice with whom he had a tumultuous love affair. Alan Marquand, an art history professor at Princeton University, bought the estate in 1887 and renamed the mansion Guernsey Hall after the island home of his Huguenot ancestors.
A Park is Created:
The estate remained in the Marquand family until 1953, when seventeen acres of land were given to Princeton ” for use as a public park, playground and recreational area for the benefit of the people of . . . Princeton and its environments.” Over the years, new features were added to the park. Eleanor Forsyth, a member of the Marquand family, designed and implemented a stone-and-sand playground. A baseball field was located where once must have been an orchard. However, some of the original features of the park with its meandering paths, clusters of trees, wide vistas, and a relatively untouched wooded area are still present. The park not only has a wonderful historic collection of trees and shrubs but is also a remarkable example of 19th century landscape architecture that needs to be preserved.
**Constance M. Greiff and Wanda S. Gunning, “Princeton’s Mythical Gardener”, Vol. LXXIV, 1, Autumn 2012, pp 9-33.
***A. J. Downing, A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, Adapted to North America: With a View to the Improvement of Country Residences, 1841