The Princeton Library has a new initiative for families and children to explore the great outdoors. Families can now check out a backpack loaded with information about parks and open spaces around Princeton. The backpack also includes a compass, binoculars, magnifying glass, New Jersey pocket field guides, nature log and more. The Marquand Park Foundation has included a guide with the location of some of its signature trees and a bookmark featuring the Little Free Library. The backpacks are available for check out at the Youth Services information desk.
Marquand Park is fortunate to have a tunnel-shaped structure believed to be of the 1800s. Except that the entrance door was probably smaller and likely enlarged to accommodate changing needs over time, the mysterious structure still retains the appearance and integrity it had for the past 200 years. Built into a bank just past the Japanese maple, the building currently is used as a storage shed.
Its original purpose is uncertain, but on a 1917 hand-drawn map of Guernsey Hall the building is listed as an ice house. It appears next to the lily pond (circled on the map) which probably froze in winter and may have been the source of the ice or it may have been delivered from Princeton Ice Company, now Mountain Lakes Preserve**. The lily pond no longer exists but landscape is indelible, and you can still see the dip in the ground where it once was. An opening, which could have been used as an ice chute, is visible in the interior ceiling vault. Two of Eleanor Marquand’s grandchildren remember the building as an ice house and a root cellar, recalling “In the days before refrigerators, people would store large blocks of ice insulated with layers of sawdust in root cellars. Then in winter, the same places would become storage places for veggies like beets and potatoes.”
**To read/see more about ice delivery history in Princeton go visit the Mountain Lakes Preserve on Meadow Road
Groundbreaking work on a Children’s Arboretum next to the parking lot is completed and its grand opening took place on April 27. The Children’s Arboretum will be a place where children between the ages of 5 and 15 can learn through hands-on experiences how trees grow. Activities will include: planting saplings in raised planting boxes in the spring; caring for these trees during the summer; and transplanting the trees in early fall to other sites in the park. Children may choose to take their tree home and find a special place for it in their yard. The arboretum will be open during regular park hours. Parents will be asked to supervise their children while visiting the arboretum.
The arboretum has a 6′ fence consisting of pressure-treated wooden posts with galvanized coated wiring supported by horizontal wood framing. The fence is intended to provide some protection from the deer. A decorative gate has been installed on the north side of the arboretum. The whole area inside the arboretum will be covered with a weed barrier ground cover and then covered with wood chips. Four planting boxes will be used for planting the trees. A table resting on the tree trunk of an English yew (part of the tree is still standing) can be used by kids for writing and drawing. A young magnolia tree is the another tree growing in the children’s arboretum.
When Pamela Machold joined the Marquand Park Foundation in the early 1970ties, she decided to use her artistic talents and create pen drawings of two of her favorite trees in the park. Her picture of the threadleaf Japanese maple became later the logo of the Marquand Park Foundation and Pam’s rendition of the cedar of Lebanon shows, better than any photograph, the majestic silhouette of this famous old tree. It is used as a wallpaper background on the Marquand Park website.
The Marquand Park Board in those days was working on a new tree map of the park and had decided for the first time in its existence to add a small guide with short descriptions of the plant species. Roland Machold and Ramsay Raymond were responsible for writing up the descriptions for this Guide to Marquand Park, which was dedicated to Mary Marquand Hochschild who had supported the park for many years and was still living at Marquand House bordering the north-east side of the park.
Aware of Pam’ s unique drawing skills, the Board determined they had a true artist in their midst, and she would be just the right person to compliment the botanical descriptions in the guide with illustrations highlighting the characteristics of the trees and shrubs. Pam remembers that she and Sam deTuro would go to the park carrying with them three color-coded mylar sheets with the locations of either the deciduous trees, evergreens, or shrubs, and pinpoint a tree that they wanted to illustrate. She would then sit down on the grass with her sketch book and start drawing, first using a pencil and later retracing the pencil lines with an Indian ink pen. Sam usually disappeared when Pam got busy, so she was mostly by herself while working on her sketches.
Pam started the project in the springtime and then worked through the seasons to complete the drawings. She does not remember making much use of reference books and mostly relied on what she observed in the park. Not always having enough time during the day because of her busy family life, she took branches and other plant material home and worked on her sketches in the evening when she had no other demands on her time.
The result is remarkable. With our mobile phones or cameras, we all make photographs of plants with the intent of using these pictures later as reference materials. But we often discover that some critical detail that would identify the plant is blurred, too much in the shadow, or entirely absent in our pictures. A botanical illustration is a powerful and often much better tool to present a clear image of a plant species. The illustrator can highlight and slightly exaggerate key features and show a plant’s characteristics in different seasons, something a photograph is never able to accomplish. These qualities are critical and very much present in Pam’s drawings.
Without any formal training in the art of botanical illustrations, Pam was able to visualize the essential physiognomies of different plants. In three of drawings, the Japanese, Norway, and sugar maple are represented with a single leaf depicted frontally with their unique features easily distinguishable. Each leaf is accompanied by one of more samaras which clearly show differences in shape between the three species. The leaf of the sassafras tree was intriguing to Pam because of its lack of uniformity. Her illustration shows three leaves. On is ovate and lobe-less, another looks like a mitten, and the final leaf has three lobes. Alas, the tree has disappeared from the park depriving us of an opportunity to look for four and five-lobed leaves that sometimes appear on this tree. The cones of the white pine are beautifully captured in two stages of development together with their plumes of needles. All illustrations are relatively small and appear in the margins of the text.
Altogether 43 drawings were included in the guide and the picture of the cedar of Lebanon was reproduced by itself on the final page of the booklet. Pam mentioned that Joan and John Emerick, owners of Minute Press in Princeton were very helpful in finalizing the layout of the illustrations. Pam’s drawings were used again in three completely revised Marquand Park guides with a different format. These guides were published in 1989, 2003, and 2004. Pen drawings by Dorothy Geyer done in a similar style were added.
Donating a beautiful piece of parkland with a collection of rare trees for the public to enjoy should be straightforward, especially when the recipient, the Princeton Borough, does not have much open spaces within its boundaries. However, the gifting of part of the Marquand estate for the purpose of creating a public park has an intriguing history and involved a reluctant Borough Council, a maneuvering Planning Board, a neighborhood group determined to save the area from real estate developers, and finally current and past owners of the property with their own private interests.
In February of 1950, Eleanor Cross Marquand died after a short illness. She had married Allan Marquand in 1896 and lived in Guernsey Hall on the Marquand estate for more than 50 years. Mrs. Marquand was survived by three daughters, Eleanor Douglas Delanoy of Princeton, and Mary Marquand Hochschild and Sarnia Marquand, both living New York City.
Almost immediately after Mrs. Marquand’s death rumors about the future of the estate started to fly. Some people assumed the land would follow the course of the nearby Pyne and Armour properties and be subdivided in smaller residential lots. This assumption was somewhat strengthened when the Planning Board approved a road across the Marquand Park property to connect Elm and Springdale Rd. This new road would split the estate into two sections. The plan, however, seemed too far in the distance to really worry about. (1)
The first indication the property was going to be subdivided occurred in May of 1950 when Mary Marquand and her husband Harold Hochschild claimed exclusive ownership of a section of the estate in the north-east part near Hibben Road. With the intention to relocate to the Princeton area, they submitted plans for building a new residence on this parcel and by November the foundations for a large house, now known as The Marquand House, were being laid. No opposition to this plan has been found. (2)
More than a year after the death of Eleanor Marquand, the remainder of the estate was sold by the Marquand sisters to William Garrigues, an industrialist from New York, and his wife Helen. According to the agent handling the sale the couple (their names were initially kept confidential) planned to live permanently in Guernsey Hall and had no intention to subdivide the property. While the mansion was being renovated, they would temporarily reside in another house on the estate that was located on the corner of Elm and Stockton. (3)
However, a year later Mr. Garrigues had already changed his mind about living in Guernsey Hall and tried to sell the mansion and three acres of the land to Van Nostrand, a publishing company of scientific books in New York. The company wanted to find offices for 30 to 45 employees in “pleasant more solicitous” surrounding and Guernsey Hall seemed the perfect place. Besides major changes to the original house, the publishing company planned to build an additional wing for more office space and a parking lot to accommodate 20 to 30 cars. To realize the project, an exception to the residential zoning restrictions in the area was required and requested. (4)
Not surprisingly, property owners in the neighborhood strongly objected to the plan. In recent years other research companies had attempted to take over large 19th century mansions and residents had successfully opposed this commercial development afraid the residential character of their neighborhood would change. In June of 1952, at one of the best attended meetings of the Zoning Board in years, the appeal for a variance in the zoning code for Guernsey Hall was unanimously voted down by the Planning Board.
Shortly thereafter, Oliver Spaulding, Vice-President of the Princeton Bank and Trust company together with two friends purchased Guernsey Hall. The sale included a small tract around the building and an additional strip of land for a new access road to Lovers Lane. The remainder of the property remained in the hands of William Garrigues. (5)
On January 31, 1953, the Princeton Herald reported that a proposal to subdivide the remainder of estate into residential parcels was being submitted to the Planning Board on February 2, 1953. The plan called for the creation of three streets with 45 lots. One street would be the earlier proposed continuation of Elm Street connecting Stockton and Mercer Street and the other two streets would run parallel with Mercer Street across the estate. Wholesale removal of all the old trees on the property was mentioned as part of the plan. (6)
A day later when asked about the plan, the real estate agent of Mr. Garrigues tried to counter negative sentiments by stating that his client was primarily interested in selling the house on the corner of Elm and Stockton Street which he had temporarily lived in and extensively remodeled. A subdivision plan necessary for this sale could not be finalized until the Planning Board had approved the boundaries of all lots and fully worked out the development of the streets. “Parceling off additional property may be years away.” (7)
Not convinced subdivision would be years away, neighbors went into action, and, at the Planning Board meeting the next day, Mr. Edmund Delong, who lived on Mercer Street across from the Marquand estate, presented a different proposal to the Planning Board on behalf of a group of anonymous citizens. Among the neighbors present at this meeting were Mrs. Marquand Hochschild, Oliver Spaulding, and Fredrick Milholland. The new proposal called for larger lots to conform to the size of the existing properties in the neighborhood and the purchase of part of the estate by a group of donors to be turned into a public park, thus preserving the estate’s rare collection of trees and bushes. The neighborhood group requested a delay to further develop their proposal and negotiate a deal with Mr. Garrigues. This request was granted by the Planning Board. (8)
On March 4, 1953, a more detailed plan for the Marquand estate was revealed by the neighborhood group now including William Garrigues as well. As part of the deal, Mr. Garrigues would retain ownership of his house on Stockton street, a strip of land on the east side along Stockton Street, and a lot situated on the corner of Mercer Street and Lovers Lane. Mr. Spaulding, who had recently purchased Guernsey Hall, would buy another strip of land to obtain access to Mercer Street, and the remainder of the property would be purchased with a fund raised by the neighborhood group and then donated to the Borough of Princeton. Mr. Garrigues agreed to sell the property at cost and contribute to the fund as well.
The Planning Board postponed a final move on the plan until April because, before recommending the gift for Council to approve, it wanted a study done to justify the belief that the cost for services provided to families residing in the proposed subdivision would be higher than the additional taxes collected from the owners of the new subdivided lots. Also, included in these calculations would be the cost for the upkeep of a park estimated at $5000 per year. To make the donation more attractive to the Borough, the Planning Board suggested that the neighborhood group consider part of the gifted property to be used for building a school or other public facility at some future date. (9)
The fate of the Marquand Park estate was supposed to be settled at the April 9 meeting of the Planning Board. The Board had been engaged in informal discussions with the owner of the property and a consultant Dobb McHugh had inspected the land. A final proposal seemed imminent. But on April 8, the Princeton Herald reported that two alternate plans for subdividing the property proposed by Mr. Hugh would be considered by the Planning Board. These proposals included plans for a park but with a much-reduced acreage. After a long discussion at the April 9 meeting, the Planning Board apparently still favored the 17-acre park plan but scheduled and extra meeting for the next Monday to give the neighborhood group additional time to confer with Mr. Garrigues on the restrictions they intended to place on the deed. At the same meeting the Planning Board also advanced a new solution for the location of the connecting road though Marquand park further away from Mr. Garrigues’ property. The next Monday the plan was submitted to Council. (10)
When Council finally deliberated the proposal a couple of days later it requested clarifications on the restrictions placed by the donors on the deed because these restrictions might present legal complications. Council also told the Planning Board that it wanted a binding decision for the Master Plan on the location of the connecting road which involved the preservation of a row of evergreens and apparently still was a stumbling block for Mr. Garrigues who wanted it moved even further away from his house on Stockton street. (11)
By May, negotiations abruptly came to a standstill. The newspapers reported that the prospective donors could not come up with the money because the owner had raised the asking price. Mr. Garrigues denied these allegations and said his original offer still held. He also indicated that he still intended to contribute to the fund to cover the gift. Nonetheless, the Planning Board renewed discussion on subdividing the Marquand estate and the disagreements over the location of the connection road stayed on the agenda as well. (12)
What subsequently happened to the negotiations is unknown. But, on June 10, mayor MacKay Sturges suddenly announced the acceptance of a donation of 17 acres of the Marquand Park estate for public use pending final negotiations concerning restrictions on the gift in the first 20 years of ownership. He described the donation as a $50.000 plus bonus to the town at a cost of a $2000 loss in property taxes and some nominal future upkeep of the park. (13)
A month later, more details about the transaction were disclosed, and the names of the donors revealed. They turned out to be the three Marquand sisters, Eleanor Marquand Delanoy, Mary Marquand Hochschild, and Sania Marquand. To realize the gift, the Marquand sisters would buy back from Mr. Garrigues part of the estate after having sold it to him a few years earlier. (14)
The final deed, signed on August 8, 1953, detailed the division of the property among the Borough of Princeton, William Garrigues, and Oliver Spaulding. It was the same arrangement as had been proposed to the Planning Board on March 4. The deed also called for the protection of trees and the creation of an advisory board for the park. It placed some restriction on the use of the land. Besides the three Marquand sisters, Harold Hochschild, was also listed as a donor.
Whether the Marquand sisters were part of the neighborhood group involved in the early negotiations is an unanswered question. The names of the members of the neighborhood group remained anonymous but we know that Mary Marquand Hochschild was present at the meeting of the Planning Board when subdivision of the estate was first discussed. It is hard to believe she was not involved. She and her husband would benefit the most from preventing an extensive subdivision of the estate because the proposed tracts of land would directly border the property where they had just built their new house. Most likely, the couple was involved from the beginning and decided together with Mary’s two sisters to make the donation possible. In the end, Mr. Garrigues did not seem to have contributed to the gift. The much-debated road through Marquand Park never happened but that is another story.
- Town Topics, 2 April 1950
- Town Topics, 28 May 1950 and Town Topics, 3 September 1950
- Town Topics, 17 June 1951
- Princeton Herald, Volume 29, Number 67, 28 June 1952
- Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 4, 15 November 1952
- Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 24, 31 January 1953
- Town Topics, 1 February 1953
- Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 25, 4 February 1953 and Town Topics, 7 and 8 February 1953
- Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 33, 4 March 1953 and Town Topics, 8 March 1953
- Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 42, 4 April 1953, Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 43, 94 April 1953, Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 44,11 April 1953, Town Topics, 12 April, 1953
- Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 45, 15 April 1953 and Town Topics, 9 April 1953
- Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 51, 6 May 1953 and Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 54, 16 May 1953
- Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 60, 10 June 1953 and Town Topics, June 14 1953
- Princeton Herald, Volume 30, Number 68, 11 July 1953
Contribution by Robert Wells:
Everybody who wants to know about our ability to grow food in the next 100 years should read a very interesting blog on the Shelter Wood Plants website entitled: Exploring North America’s Oldest Food Forest. A truly magical place in the suburbs of Philadelphia, now subdivided into parking lots and overgrown wooded areas, was once America’s number 1 agroforestry farm harboring an abundance of walnut, persimmons, pawpaw, hazelnut, hickories and other trees. John Hersey and J. Russell Smith, the place’s creators held competitions among farmers to submit the most outstanding examples of their tree crops, and so were able to crowdsource the best genetics from across the Eastern Seaboard and propagate a group of hardy cultivars still standing.