Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Princeton University. Dept. of Buildings and Grounds.
Department of Grounds and Buildings Technical Correspondence Records
Princeton University Archives
Permanent URL:
1866-1988 (mostly 1930-1949)
25 boxes and 1 folder
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-25


The Technical Correspondence Records, created by the Department of Grounds and Buildings, contain detailed information relating to the construction, maintenance, renovation, and demolition of buildings, and to the grounds and architects of Princeton University.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists largely of correspondence among architects, contractors, donors, and university officials, as well as inter-office memos concerning the construction, maintenance, and removal of buildings. Although many of the documents are of a desultory nature, in some instances they provide detailed information about the design of a building and the process by which an idea was transformed into concrete reality. In several cases, these files contain the only record of unrealized building projects.

For the most part, the letters concern the supply of designs and materials in the building process. Unfortunately, many of the letters are represented only in copies in which the sender's name and signature have not been preserved. Also frustrating is the fact that the letters make reference to enclosures that are no longer extant.

The materials within each file are by no means exhaustive, but every major campus building is represented within this collection. The files tend to contain information about particular building or renovation campaigns, and do not cover the life span of the building.


Organized into the following series:

The first series is arranged alphabetically by building name, and the second and third series are arranged alphabetically by topic. The buildings are filed according to their official names, rather than as they were known during the period of construction. For example, Class of 1903 Hall was alternately known as 1903-Walker, and what is today called Walker Memorial Dormitory is referred to as Joline Hall in the documents.

Collection Creator Biography:

Princeton University. Dept. of Buildings and Grounds.

The responsibility for supervising the construction and maintenance of new and existing buildings originally fell within the provenance of the financial officers of the College of New Jersey and the Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees, which organized an ad hoc committee for each new project. It was not until 1865 that the Trustees created the Standing Committee on Real Estate to oversee the development of new structures on campus. This became the Committee on Grounds and Buildings in 1876. The chairpersons of that committee have been:

Within the administration, the position of Curator of Grounds and Buildings was separated from that of Treasurer in 1901. The incumbent of the office was James MacNaughton Thompson, who held that position from 1901 until 1904. He was succeeded by Henry Conrad Bunn (1904-1910) and Alfred Buelt Mullett Hoffman (1910 - 1912). In 1912, the title was changed to Superintendent of Grounds and Buildings. The following people have held this office:

Beginning in 1912, duties were divided between the Superintendent and the new Secretary of Business Administration, George Wintringer. He served as Secretary of the Department of Business Administration from 1912 until 1921, and Controller from 1921 until 1941. In that year, Edward MacMillan assumed the entire management of the Physical Plant.

In 1965, Robert Johnstone became General Manager of the Division of Property and Physical Facilities. He reported to the Financial Vice-President of the University. He hired John P. Moran, an architectural engineer, as his assistant. Moran replaced Johnstone in 1967 and became the General Manager of Planning, Plant and Property. He was later promoted to Vice-President for Facilities and in 1974, the name of the office was changed to the Office of Facilities. C. Harrison Hill assumed Moran's position as assistant in 1967, and in 1969, he was succeeded by Jon Hlafter. Hlafter, in turn, became director of physical planning in 1986.

Since 1907, the University also employed the services of a consulting or supervising architect. The first of these, Ralph Adams Cram, was responsible for developing the first long-term master plan for the expansion of the campus. The following people have served in this capacity:

This position, under Belluschi and Warner, was modified into one in which the architect provided advice to Trustees and administrators, but was not in charge of day-to-day planning.

Collection History


These records were generated by the various administrative offices that oversee the physical plant of the University. The organization of these offices has changed over the years, but the bulk of these records come from the Department of Grounds and Buildings. Materials dating from after 1964 are believed to have been artificially integrated into the collection.


Appraisal information was not recorded at time of acquisition.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sara Bush and Janet Temos in Spring 1995. Finding aid written by Sara Bush and Janet Temos in Spring 1995.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. If copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers will not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with non-commercial use of materials from the Mudd Library. For materials where the copyright is not held by the University, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Department of Grounds and Buildings Technical Correspondence Records; Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-25

Find More

Related Materials

Researchers are advised to consult the Historical Subject Files – Grounds and Buildings Subject Files as well as the following:

Historical Subject Files, Grounds and Buildings Subject Files

Princeton University Trustees Minutes, Committee on Grounds and Buildings

Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings

Historical Subject Files (especially the files on student housing and the Princeton Borough)

Oversize Architectural Drawings

Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion (1978)

Thomas Wertenbaker, Princeton, 1746-1896 (1946)

Constance Grieff, Princeton Architecture (1967)

Gerald Breese, Princeton University Land, 1756-1984 (1986)

Library Records (especially those related to Firestone building projects)

Subject Terms:
Architects -- New Jersey -- Princeton -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Architecture -- New Jersey -- Princeton.
Buildings -- New Jersey -- Princeton.
College buildings -- New Jersey -- Princeton.
Landscape architecture -- New Jersey -- Princeton.
Nassau Hall (Princeton, N.J.).
Outdoor sculpture -- New Jersey -- Princeton.
Genre Terms:
Princeton University
Princeton University. Library
Princeton (N.J.) -- Buildings, structures, etc.