Drumthwacket of Princeton, New Jersey

354 Stockton St.
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 683-0057
Olden House

Olden HouseOlden House, the small white farmhouse located across the front lawn of Drumthwacket, was built between 1759 and 1765 by John Hill. It was purchased in 1772 by Thomas Olden, a tailor and farmer and son of John Olden, one of the six early settlers who established the Quaker community of Stony Brook. Charles Smith Olden, one of Thomas Olden‘s grandsons, was born here in 1799. After making his fortune in New Orleans, he had returned to Princeton and began the construction of the mansion Drumthwacket in 1835.

When the Drumthwacket estate was purchased by Moses Taylor Pyne in 1893, Olden House was briefly used as the butler’s home. When outgrown, it was transformed into a rare bird aviary, later adding monkeys. Pyne’s three hundred acre estate, maintained by his thirty full-time gardeners, was open to the public on Sundays, where one could enjoy the ponds, bridle paths and formal terraced gardens. The favorite among the children was the “Monkey House”.

Olden HouseIn 1996 the small four-room farmhouse was renovated by the Kane Brothers, Kingston, New Jersey, specialists in historic restoration. Paint samples of the interior were analyzed to reveal the original colors used in 1759. These colors are now found in the restored rooms. The colonial kitchen fireplace, constructed with hand-made bricks and a large wood beam mantel, along with two small fireplaces, have been painstakingly taken apart and reset. Cut-away sections have been created in several rooms to reveal the original infrastructure beneath the plaster and wood panel walls. The floors and cupboards are original to the house.

The house is one of the few remaining original houses in the Stony Brook settlement. The last addition to Olden House was in 1800; the room that houses the exhibits of 18th Century Colonial Life was moved to the property from a nearby home.

In May 1997 the Historical Society of Princeton presented the Drumthwacket Foundation and the Division of Parks and Forestry its “Recognition for Restoration and Adaptive Use” award noting that “the restoration of the Olden House is a model project for its planning and process, as well as for its successful execution.”

Today Olden House is the home of the Drumthwacket Foundation office. Its simple 18th century architecture and historically accurate herb garden make it a favorite component of the tour of the Drumthwacket estate.


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