Westminster College supporters want Princeton campus declared historic landmark
PRINCETON — Supporters of keeping Rider University's Westminster Choir College will try on Thursday to have the campus, which is located in Princeton, designated a historic landmark.
Mickey Lazenby-Gast, a Westminster graduate and former member of Rider's Board of Trustees, said the Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College in Princeton hopes to impress upon the Princeton Historical Preservation Society the significance of the buildings from both a historical and education perspective.
"It's historically significant somewhat due to the buildings, which are beautiful Georgian buildings that were designed in 1934 by Sherley Warner Morgan," an award-winning Princeton University architect and built the same year. Gast also said the group will cite the "artistic musical happenings that have gone on at our campus over the years," including a performance by the conductor Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra at the campus dedication and collaboration by the choir with Leonard Bernstein, Arturo Toscanini, Kurt Mazur and others.
Gast also said that many of the choir's global performances, which she said made them "musical ambassadors to the world," originated on the 23-acre campus.
President Gregory Dell’Omo told faculty and staff in December that Rider needs a significant increase in enrollment and is watching costs in order to avoid a projected $13.1 million deficit by 2019. One idea being considered is to move Westminster to the main campus in Lawrenceville and sell the property.
Gast is against the move because she doesn't believe that the main campus can provide the necessary space and calls the plan to consolidate "ill-conceived on a number of levels."
"The spaces in which one performs is very, very important. It contributes so much to the art that you make in those spaces."
Rider spokeswoman Kristine Brown said the school is "aware of and respects the efforts of Westminster alumni and others," but said that no final decisions have been made.
"We remain open to constructive conversation and continue to explore all options available to us to ensure that both Westminster Choir College and Rider University as a whole emerge stronger and more vibrant," Brown said.
The Princeton Historical Preservation Society meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the Princeton Municipal Building on Witherspoon Street.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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