Lower Pyne, on the corner of Nassau and Witherspoon streets.
Partners in Princeton Architecture
By Laurie Pellichero | Photographs courtesy of Historical Society of Princeton
Admirers of Princeton University and town architecture might not realize that many of the area’s most prominent buildings, past and present, were commissioned by longtime University trustee and generous benefactor Moses Taylor Pyne, and designed by New York City-based architect Raleigh Colston Gildersleeve.
Moses Taylor Pyne (1855-1921), a New York City native and 1877 Princeton University alumnus, inherited a substantial fortune from his maternal grandfather and namesake, Moses Taylor, whose money was derived mainly from banking and railroads. Moses Taylor Pyne married Margaretta Stockton, daughter of Gen. Robert Field Stockton Jr., and gained a seat on the University board of trustees at age 28. He continued to serve on the board for 36 years. Pyne was devoted to establishing Collegiate Gothic architecture as the predominate style on campus. It has been noted that this was based on the theory that giving the University the ambiance and Oxford and Cambridge would lend a similar atmosphere to his alma mater.
Raleigh Colston Gildersleeve (1869-1944) was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, the son of Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, PU Class of 1849 and a longtime classical philology professor at Johns Hopkins University, and his wife Eliza Fisher Colston.
Gildersleeve graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1888, and became an architect in New York City. Pyne subsequently hired him to design the Upper and Lower Pyne dormitories on Nassau Street, as well as McCosh Hall at Princeton University. He was also the architect of the Elm, Cap and Gown, and Campus eating clubs on Prospect Avenue. He worked with Pyne on the 20-year renovation and expansion of Drumthwacket, which Pyne purchased from Charles Smith Olden’s widow in 1893, and designed some local residences as well. more