Deer Path-Clover Lane Group of Houses

Architect: David Savage, primary architect; Herbert Kendall, architect; Edmund Cook, developer

Date of Construction: 1950s, beginning in 1954

Location: Deer Path and Clove Lane, Princeton

Materials

Floors: 1

Use: residential

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The group of 34 homes centered around Deer Path and Clover Lane designed by primary architect David Savage achieve a post-war Modernism. Each home was designed in the post-war idiom of utility but Savage took the opposite route of Levitt Town homes and provided a variety from each house to the next. In a study financed by Princeton Township for an estimated $6,000 and executed by the Metuchen-based Arch2, Inc. the neighborhood’s characteristics were determined to be: “one-stoy ranches; horizontal siding; low-pitched gable, butterfly, or flat roofs; carports; window placements; as well as landscaped lots set back from the street”.(1) The units harmonize with nature and are built on a human scale, no one design dominates another, its surroundings or its occupants. But each home is distinguished by different roof-lines, colors and orientation of the main entrance. The residents of the Rollingmead community, the area around Deer Path and Clover Lane, pushed for a “no copycat” ordinance that was put into the deeds.(2)

The group of homes are all very well-preserved, only a very few have later additions. Recognizing that the community had a unique grouping of Modern-era homes, in 2005 residents of this community addressed the Princeton Township’s Historic Preservation Commission and proposed designating the neighborhood as a historic district. The alterations that some home owners tried to undertake were halted and altered by the community and the town’s Zoning Board to maintain the integrity of the community and original design.(3) Julie Capozzoli, vice chair of the Princeton Township’s Historic Preservation Commission, commented: “[…] It’s unusual to have so many of these homes in this style so well-preserved from this period of time” and noted that this feature makes designating the community as a historic district very compelling.(4)

At a Princeton Township meeting in May 2009, after the Historic Preservation Commission concluded an investigation to identify the neighborhood as a historic district, many of the residents expressed no interest in designating the community.(5) There was a push to preserve the character of the neighborhood and a new zoning designation was proposed to help maintain uniformity of Deer Path-Clover Lane neighborhood. Many of the residents rejected the new zoning restrictions based on the fears of not being able to sell their homes and the impact the ordinance would have on the value of their property.(6)

With many neighborhoods of consisting of colonial or mixed styles, and many older homes being replaced by new “McMansions”, a unique neighborhood like Deer Path-Clover Lane contributes character to Princeton. It also marks Princeton’s Modern-era building legacy during the 1950s. As of 2009 not much progress has come from the proposed designation and the residents of the community are still split on what to do with their neighborhood.

(1) Hersh, Matthew. “Commission Sides With Deer Path Study, but Historic Designation Not There Yet”. Town Topics 6 June, 2007: LXI, No. 23.  Web. 19 April, 2011.

(2) Hersh, Matthew. “1950s-Era Homes Making History as Aging Abodes Enter Golden Age”. Town Topics 8 February, 2006. Web. 19 April, 2011.

(3) Hersh. “1950s-Era Homes”.

(4) Hersh. “1950s-Era Homes”.

(5) Princeton Township Committee Meeting. Princetontownship.org, 18 May, 2009. Web, pg. 7-8. 19 April, 2011.

(6) Princeton Township Committee Meeting.

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