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Historic Sites and Buildings
John Witherspoon made this his home from 1779 until his death in 1794. In 1773, while serving as president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), he acquired some farmland near Princeton and built Tusculum. For several years he leased out the house and farm, but in 1779 he moved from the President's House to Tusculum.
The two-story Georgian structure of fieldstone with gabled roof and two pairs of end chimneys originally had only one extension, a lower, two-story, stone and frame wing attached to the west end of the house along its main axis. First-story windows of both sections have exterior paneled shutters; second-story windows, louvered shutters. In later years, two additional wings, both of frame and two stories in height, were added to the east and west ends of the structure. Designed in the same style as the rest of the house, they do not seriously alter the original appearance of the front elevation.
The stairway is located in an ell at the rear portion of the center hall along the east wall. To the east of the hall lie the living room and study; to the west, a large dining room, which occupies the entire west half of the main house. Four bedrooms are upstairs. The finish in two of them date from about 1825. The original service wing, on the west side, contains a kitchen on the first floor and two bedrooms on the second.
Tusculum has never undergone any major alterations and it is in excellent condition. In 1924 the present owner acquired it. Under his supervision, a Philadelphia firm restored it to its 18th-century appearance. The major changes were the removal of 19th-century porches at the front, or south, and elimination of a partition wall in the dining room. The structure continues to serve as a private residence and is not shown to visitors.
Last Updated: 04-Jul-2004