FitzRandolph Gate dismantled for restoration

FitzRandolph Gate, the ornate entrance to Princeton's campus from Nassau Street, will undergo a major restoration that will be completed in time for the landmark's 100th birthday in 2005.

During the week of July 26, contractors will remove metal work from the three gates at the main entrance and from the gate at the western end for shipment to Massachusetts, where the restoration will be completed. While the eastern entry gate was renovated in 1998, there is no record of complete removal and restoration work on FitzRandolph Gate since it was erected in 1905.

The gates, side panels, transoms and ornamental work, including the shield and light fixtures, will be taken down. All the stone piers, including the two center columns with the eagles perched on top, will remain during the restoration, said Lou Dursi, associate director of grounds and building maintenance.

Workers will strip the paint from the gates and remove structurally impaired metal that they will duplicate and replace. "Original parts of the gate currently missing also will be reconstructed," Dursi said. "The hinges and bearings on all gates will be replaced or restored to new condition, allowing the gates to become operational again. Altogether, more than 230 pieces of cast metal are in need of replacement."

All new and restored parts, which will be constructed from authentic wrought iron from England, will be hand forged using traditional blacksmithing methods and tools. Van Noorden Historical Restoration of Franklin, Mass., is the lead contractor, and the Springfield Fence Co. of Springfield, Vt., is a subcontractor for the project. The work is expected to be completed by November.

The gate originally was designed by the prominent architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White. It was a gift from Augustus van Wickle of Hazleton, Pa., in memory of his ancestor, Nathaniel FitzRandolph, who gave the land on which Nassau Hall was built.

According to long University tradition, the gateway was closed except on a few ceremonial occasions. At the request of the Princeton's class of 1970, the gateway was opened permanently in May of that year as a "symbol of the University's openness to the local and worldwide community."

Contact: Lauren Robinson-Brown (609) 258-3601