When in the Ivy League town of Princeton, explore Drumthwacket, the official residence of the governor of New Jersey. In fact, Drumthwacket is one of the most fabled and elegant of America’s executive residences. Its history contains the stories of three families that made immense contributions to New Jersey and American history.
The property upon which Drumthwacket stands was once owned by William Penn, the Quaker who founded the colony of Pennsylvania. In 1696, William Olden acquired the property; in 1799 Charles Smith Olden was born in the little white homestead by Stockton Street, called the Thomas Olden House that had been built forty years earlier. Typical of the Greek Revival style, the house features a large portico with six Ionic columns. Drumthwacket is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been the official governor’s residence since 1981.
Charles Smith Olden, who gained his wealth in business ventures in New Orleans and an inheritance from an uncle, began construction of Drumthwacket in 1835, possibly using a design by architect Charles Steadman. For its name, Drumthwacket was the estate of a hero in one of Sir Walter Scott’s popular historical novels, A Legend (of the Wars) of Montrose, published in 1819. It is believed that Governor Olden gave his new house this Scots-Gaelic name (which means ‘wooded hill’) upon reading the book. The original structure consisted of the center hall with two rooms on each side in addition to the large portico with detailed Ionic columns.
As a gentleman farmer and businessman, Olden was active in community and political affairs. He was Treasurer and Trustee of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) from 1844-1850. He served as a state senator, and was elected governor in 1860, becoming the first governor to live at Drumthwacket. He was an ardent opponent of the secession and supported throughout the Civil War the leadership provided by Abraham Lincoln.
Nearby is historic Morven, the former New Jersey Governor’s Mansion and 18th-century home of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The National Historic Landmark, situated on five acres of manicured grounds and gardens, is now a museum showcasing New Jersey history and culture.
Make a reservation to tour HERE.
About the Drumthwacket Foundation
Founded in 1982, The Drumthwacket Foundation is a 501c3 non-partisan, non-profit organization. Its mission is to increase a sense of pride in New Jersey by preserving the Drumthwacket property and broadening access, furthering awareness and support of the Foundation and its activities and expanding civic understanding amongst New Jerseyans. www.drumthwacket.org