The real estate market for Princeton offers an extraordinary variety of settings, neighborhoods, housing-styles and home sizes in Mercer County, NJ. Radiating out in a rough circle from the center of town, the market — with homes priced above a million – includes examples from the stately and historic Western Section; the hilly and secluded Pretty Brook and Princeton Ridge sections; the intimate, yet elegant communities of Ettl Farm, the Institute area and the Princeton Battlefield; and homes with placid vistas along Carnegie Lake. If one is seeking an in-town environment, Princeton Center mixes tranquility and community with proximity to culture, schools, and shopping.
The Western Section
Extending west and north from the Princeton Battle Monument, and bounded by Bayard Lane and Elm Road, this area includes many older, and in some cases historic, homes set on beautiful properties with manicured lawns and shrubs, all within walking distance of the center of town. These attributes make this area, for many, the most desirable and prestigious. A number of the homes and mansions have been renovated and enlarged to accommodate the modern lifestyle. The exteriors range from the classic styles of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Colonial, Tudor, Victorian, and Gothic to more modern variations of traditional themes. These homes line well-known, gracefully curving streets, such as Library Place, Hodge Road, Lafayette Road, and Cleveland Lane, once home to Woodrow Wilson.
The Institute & Hun Area
West and south of Elm Road, this area offers many luxury homes that are younger than those of the Western Section, but are still large and beautiful. Dotted among them are parks and open spaces belonging to the town and University, as well as the Springdale golf course, giving the area an open, graceful character without being far removed from town. The Theological Seminary serves to lift the thoughts of the residents to the imponderables as they make their daily rounds, while the Institute for Advanced Study and Albert Einstein’s modest house may inspire the more secular passersby. Drumthwacket, the Governor’s mansion, and the Hun School each adds its own impressive character to its respective neighborhood.
The Rosedale Area
Bordering Rosedale Road, heading west from the town, this section is embroidered with many larger, stately homes that back on Stony Brook, the Johnson Estates, the Jasna Polana Country Club, or preserved lands. The properties tend to be somewhat larger than those closer to the center of town, and residents can enjoy the rolling hills, preserved woods, and newly established parks with playing fields, as well as the Johnson Park School. To the west can be found the Fairview and Brookstone neighborhoods with collections of lovely homes dating from the 1950s. To the south of Rosedale Road are the homes on Lambert Drive, desirable for their wooded properties backing onto the golf course at Jasna Polana.
Just west of the Rosedale area is Ettl Farm, one of the largest developments in Princeton, with more than eighty houses. One enters amid broad, gracefully rising lawns to reach the curving lanes lined by rather closely spaced homes. The relative proximity gives a real sense of neighborhood and allows generous common space, often wooded, behind the homes. The homes are traditionally modern with many brick or stucco facades and shingled sides, and, as one climbs the gentle rise on which the entire farm sits, one notices the houses are sighted to encourage communication and interaction among residents.
Pretty Brook Area
Some of the new mansions and gated estates of Pretty Brook are among the most notable in Princeton. The land here undulates in dramatic rises and falls, often with streams or ponds decorating the low lands. This area is wooded and quiet and feels far from the madding crowd. Privacy is paramount. Many of the homes are built on cul de sacs. The Woodfield Reservation and Princeton Academy’s secluded grounds add to the rural feel of the section. Many of the homes are set back, reached by long driveways and are often widely separated by the woods and hills. The Pretty Brook Tennis Club is a draw for serious students of the game and the occasional dance or party. Princeton Day School brings its rich amalgam of academics, culture, and sports. Farm View Field is one of Princeton’s new, well-groomed playing fields.
This area shares the dramatic topography and prevalent wooded tracts that Pretty Brook enjoys, but the housing displays greater variety and somewhat greater density. There are many half-acre to one-acre plots and three-car garages. The housing size and design is both more varied and more traditional with many of the newer houses displaying brick facades and shingled siding particularly along Davies Drive, Balcort Drive and Arreton Road. Near Stuart Country Day School, along Stuart Road and Bouvant Road, one can find innovative and diverse examples of large, contemporary homes, many of which are set back from the road. A number of the houses in this area have been handsomely, even elegantly, enlarged. There are a number of three-story houses, and the several different neighborhoods present graceful, rolling vistas that harmonize nature’s and man’s design. Along some of the roads, the houses are easily viewed while elsewhere they are largely hidden.
On both sides of Mercer Road stretches the expanse of the beloved Princeton Battlefield site where wedding parties and their photographers can often be sited. To the north runs the Princeton-Lawrenceville Road (a.k.a. Rt. 206), and to the west, Lower Province Line Road. Homes here come in many shapes and sizes, with some tucked into the back of older properties. Residents of this section can enjoy a long walk (and occasionally cross-country skiing), in the Institute Woods on the south side of Mercer Road.
The Center of Princeton
Princeton Center – in and around the heart of Princeton — is sprinkled with a variety of 19th and early 20th century large, family homes, many occupied by university faculty. Their locations afford a short walk or bike ride to the center of town, to the University or to Westminster Choir College. Residents here tend to know each other and enjoy neighborhood living. A number of these houses have been substantially renovated inside while maintaining the original character of the exterior. In addition to easy downtown access, this area is convenient to the high school, middle school, charter school, and the Princeton Shopping Center.
Carnegie Lake, Riverside & Littlebrook Area
Bounded on the south and east by Carnegie Lake, and running along both sides of Route 27 (a.k.a. Nassau Street), this is a quiet residential area containing two public elementary schools: Riverside and Littlebrook. A number of new homes have been built throughout the area, the most notable ones along the lake. Some are individual sprawling mansions while others are of more recognizable designs. The lots tend to run smaller than in some other sections. This area of fairly dense housing is in fact a series of small neighborhoods.
Town & Country Luxury Homes
This area, a five-minute car ride or a twenty-minute walk from Princeton Center, offers mainly older, traditional homes, a few newly constructed modern homes, and even a few historic homes such as Mansgrove on Terhune Road. A number of existing homes here have been modernized and upgraded to the Luxury Home category. They are scattered throughout the area. Among the area’s advantages are neighborhoods where people know each other, and easy access to public parks, playing fields, tennis, community pools, as well as public schools, Westminster Choir College, the Princeton Shopping Center, Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve, Herrontown Woods, Autumn Hill Reservation, and a number of doctors’ offices.