‘It will set the precedent’

Historic Joseph Horner House named '10 Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey'

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PHOTO BY LEA/KAHN

The Joseph Horner House at 344 Nassau St., which is threatened by development, has been included on Preservation New Jersey’s list of the “10 Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey” for 2024.

The house on the northeast corner of Nassau Street and North Harrison Street was built in the 1760s by Joseph Horner. He was the grandson of John Horner, who was one of Princeton’s Quaker founders, according to Preservation New Jersey.

The house is in the Jugtown Historic District, which is listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places. It was named a municipal historic district in 1986.

Jugtown derives its name from the numerous potteries that were located in the neighborhood. The potters made earthenware and stoneware jugs, plates, pipes and other items. The potteries closed in the mid-1800s.

Meanwhile, the Joseph Horner House’s historic nature is being threatened by the proposed development of a 15-unit apartment building by developer 344 Nassau LLC. The apartment building would be attached to the rear of the house.

The application is scheduled to be reviewed by the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission at back-to-back meetings on May 13 and May 14. The meetings start at 5 p.m. and will be held in-person at the Witherspoon Hall Municipal Building at 400 Witherspoon Street.

The Princeton Planning Board will hold a public hearing on 344 Nassau LLC’s application for major site plan approval on May 23 via Zoom.

Two of the 15 apartments would be located inside the 18th-century house and 13 apartments would be located in the three-story addition that would be built over the parking area for the apartments.

Of the 15 apartments, three apartments would be set aside for affordable housing. The apartment building is permitted under Princeton’s Affordable Housing Overlay Zone 2 ordinance, which is designed to allow for the construction of affordable housing.

The planned addition will comply with the Affordable Housing Overlay Zone 2 ordinance, including the density and height provisions.

The Joseph Horner House is 29 feet tall. The addition – ground level parking plus three stories built above it – would total 44 feet, 9 inches in height. The maximum permitted height is 45 feet.

Preservation New Jersey said the “10 Most Endangered Historic Places” program puts the spotlight on irreplaceable historic, architectural, cultural and archeological resources in New Jersey that are in imminent danger of being lost.

Inclusion on the list is based on three criteria – a property’s historic significance and architectural integrity; the critical nature of the threat; and the likelihood that inclusion on the list will have a positive impact on efforts to protect the property, Preservation New Jersey said.

“The act of listing (a property) acknowledges its importance to the heritage of New Jersey and draws attention to the predicaments that endanger their survival and the survival of historic resources statewide,” Preservation New Jersey said.

According to Preservation New Jersey, the two-story brick house originally had a one-story kitchen wing to the west. A second story was added to the top of the wing in the early 20th century.

The Joseph Horner House is an anchor to the Jugtown Historic District. The corners of Nassau Street and Harrison Street retain two other pre-Revolutionary War buildings and an early 19th-century building.

Redevelopments in historic districts are on the rise with new affordable housing and tax credit incentives, according to Preservation New Jersey. The addition will surround the 18th-century house at 344 Nassau St.

While revitalization of neighborhoods contributes to reactivating historic places, there is a growing trend toward demolition and insensitive changes to integral features of structures and streetscapes, Preservation New Jersey said.

The nonprofit organization cautioned that more care and sensitivity to the impacts of historic districts are necessary through compliance with existing preservation standards and guidelines at the local, state and national level.

Preservation New Jersey said it supports and encourages the development at 344 Nassau St. to comply with preservation standards and guidelines because “it will set the precedent for other new developments in the Jugtown Historic District and in other Princeton historic neighborhoods.”

Founded in 1978 by the late Constance Greiff of Princeton, Preservation New Jersey is a statewide nonprofit organization that promotes the economic vitality, sustainability and heritage of New Jersey’s diverse communities through advocacy and education.