David Meadow leads a short tour through his home, known to the Princeton NJ community as “the McCosh house” because it was the residence of the James McCosh, president of Princeton University from 1868 -1888.
In recent years, the mansion had been divided into two large condominium units and last year, Meadow and his wife Lisa Mirin have taken up residence in the larger side.
Meadow relates that McCosh had built the structure in 1887 as his retirement home. Before it was moved to its present location on Princeton’s main street, Nassau Street, in 1906, it was originally situated on Prospect street, where it had housed a student eating club [the “Quadrangle” of which novelist and Princetonian F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about in “This Side of Paradise.”]
On Nassau it sat on a large tract of land and its owner in 1980, Architect Robert Hillier sought to tear it down for a townhouse development. The Historical Society and the community waged a battle in the local newspapers to preserve the historical house. Hillier relented, and was able to comply with regulations concerning the housing development by moving the house once again, but this time only 20 feet closer to the street.
Meadow points out the elaborate, original stained glass work, woodwork, and scrollwork in the main entrance area and along the grand stairway to the second floor.
When the house was moved in 1980, some of the original stucco was uncovered a curious feature was revealed: The year “1888” and McCosh’s initials where McCosh presumably had scratched them into the wet stucco.