Most of the former New Jersey country estate that once belonged to the oldest brother of Napoleon Bonaparte is to be part of the state's park system following a recent purchase.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the grand buildings of the Point Breeze estate of former Spanish king Joseph Bonaparte are long gone, with only a gardener's house dating to 1820 remaining, but the 55-acre heart of the estate now belongs to the public.

The $4.6 million purchase by the New Jersey environmental protection department, the city of Bordentown and the nonprofit D & R Greenway Land Trust was finalized Dec. 18 with Divine Word Missionaries, the Catholic order that had owned the site since 1941.

A cluster of 20th century buildings will go to Bordentown for conversion to a new city hall, police department headquarters and community center. The other 50 acres of fields, woods, and carriage trails will be part of the state park system, eventually with interpretative signs, audio tours, and walking trails.

Land Trust president Linda Mead said the tract, the southern gateway to the Abbott Marshlands between Bordentown and Trenton, was “the most important Native American settlement east of the Mississippi.”

Doug Kiovsky, vice president of the Bordentown Historical Society, called the site unique, adding that “not many places in this country can claim that a king” once resided there.

Joseph Bonaparte and other family members emigrated to the United States after the 1815 abdication of Napoleon. His Point Breeze residence, exceeded in size only by the White House, housed collections of paintings, books, and birds that were also among the largest and best in the young United States, the Inquirer said.

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