Howard Russell Butler in Princeton

Laura Valenza, Campus Collections, Princeton University

Howard Russell Butler’s years as an undergraduate at Princeton University endeared the town to him. In 1911 he settled permanently in Princeton, at 107 Library Place. Butler was enthusiastic about getting involved in his new hometown as soon as he arrived, and he actively engaged in the community, participating in the development of Palmer Square and the remodeling of the inn, the construction of 20 Nassau Street, the Hospital Campaign Fund, and matters of the Morven historic house and the public library. His documents reveal that he was a meticulous and persevering fundraiser and community organizer. He participated in the planning of the Princeton Battle Monument—an elaborate sculpture which shows George Washington on horseback rising above the chaos of battle, with allegorical Liberty standing before his horse. Commissioned in 1908, it was created by sculptor Frederick MacMonnies and architect Thomas Hastings and was dedicated in 1922. Butler eagerly expressed his opinion that the monument be constructed at the intersection of Bayard Lane and Stockton Street , which made for a majestic view down the main street of town. He argued that the Mercer Street location could not accommodate the grandeur of the monument and instead suggested a park for that corner. Thomas Hastings entered the plan after Butler had created a full-scale wood model of MacMonnies’s monument to prove his point about the proper location and the importance of a designed site.

Sculptor Frederick MacMonnies and architect Thomas Hastings, dedicated 1922. Photo by Djkeddie (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (<a href=""></a>)], via Wikimedia Commons