PU should rebuild not restore burned building

14 March, 1990 (~estimated)

PU should rebuild not restore burned building

To the editor:

Recent Princeton Packet issues have been replete with reports concerning the fire on Nassau Street.

I have followed these stories and. in particular, the comments made to your reporters and in letters written to . you. They mourn the loss of these historic” edifices but, when their rhetorical smoke clears and the dust settles, they all get down to the nitty-gritty of their grief, namely, the absence of their usual ice cream and baked goods! Oh, what power resides in the tyranny of the tummy and taste buds!

Old Peter is not unfamiliar with that part of Nassau Street. I entered Princeton University in 1939 as an engineering freshman member of the class of 1943 and roomed, during my freshman year, a few feet from the fire at 175 Nassau St.

That’s my room there on the top floor over the New York Camera store— those were my windows, the corner front and side ones in the mansard roof! This house was the residence of. Mrs. Margaret McCarthy-Schultz, a beloved piano teacher and a wonderful second mother to me. Each morning I had a date to feed graham crackers and peanuts to a wonderful, little, panhandling squirrel who came to my window. She helped me overcome my bouts of homesickness. ”

So, you see, I have affection for the area — but it is based on love and sentiment; definitely not on architecture or “history.”

With dismay and disbelief, I read that our towns-folk take the primrose path of easy virtue and demand that Princeton University “restore” the ruins. How many of your letter writers would be willing to put their money into such a restoration?

It is to be kept uppermost in mind that these buildings and lands are private property. The university cannot afford to waste its resources by throwing good money after bad. These burned-out buildings and my old residence neat door were and are ugly, dried-out, eyesores and fire traps and I, for one, am grateful that we are rid of them without loss of life or injury, especially so since we am confronted here with a case of arson!

A few days ago, I consulted with a good and close friend of mine concerning this situation; he is one of the premier architects of this country. We looked over the area together, and he agreed with me that this disaster” has provided an with an opportunity to not only beautify the area, but also to construct edifices that will bring to the university revenues commensurate with the great value of the property on which they will stand.

Dr. Peter Panagos

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