Constitution Hill – History

Constitution Hill… The Gracious Life in Historic Princeton

Share in the Legacy of this Well-loved Land

Here, at one of the highest points in Princeton, Constitution Hill has been reborn.
The richness of its past, combined with its natural beauty today, form a very special community

The story of Constitution Hill is deeply rooted in our nation’s past, for the land was originally owned by William Penn, the Quaker who founded Pennsylvania in the 1600’s. This historic site saw a nation struggling to survive the shifts of fate and fortune, through succeeding generations that stood up to the challenges of their times.

Currently, a new generation has settled at Constitution Hill; becoming a part of its history and enjoying a civilized style of country living.

Constitution Hill derives its name from the tradition that New Jersey’s first State Constitution was signed here at the old Stockton farmhouse.

The Stockton’s were one of the first great families of New Jersey, their influence so great that the year of their arrival in the area – 1696 – is the date given by some historians as the birthdate of Princeton itself. Through the decades, the Stockton family included among itsmembers, patriots, statesmen, eminent lawyers, and of course Richard Stockton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Naturally, the Stockton homestead encompassed an eventful life: George Washington found sanctuary here on his retreat from New Brunswick in 1776. When the Stockton family moved on, the old frame farmhouse fell into disrepair and was demolished. 

In 1897, Junius Spencer Morgan, a New York banker, elected to build his Jacobean-style home upon this historic site, which he felt to be hallowed ground. Junius married Josephine Adams Perry who was a descendant of President John Adams and she was also related to Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry and Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Commodore Matthew Perry was responsible for opening up Japan. Commodore Oliver Hazard fought in the War of 1812. Mr. Junius Spencer Morgan and Mrs. Josephine Adams Perry Morgan.

For more details of the entire Morgan family, including Liz and Perry Morgan see the About the Morgan Family page.

The Mansion under construction showing sturdy underpinnings, the Great Hall, usually filled with music and laughter and an aerial view of the formal gardens.

The Turn of the Century 

The Gay Nineties and early 1900’s were times of tranquility. The scars of the civil war were healing, and those who sought to rebuild the nation found opportunity and subsequent prosperity. Junius Spencer Morgan and his beautiful young wife Josephine were very much a part of the Guilded Age. Constitution Hill became the focus of their family life and the setting for their spectacular parties. Alexander Morgan loved bringing the fountains into play.

Magnificent horse-drawn carriages and later limousines, brought the Morgan guests to Constitution Hill. On quiet weekends, the big house echoed with the sound of children’s voices (Sarah and Alexander). The lawns brightened with scenes of croquet, and afternoon teas in the formal garden were a tradition. The fires burned early and late in the wide hearth of the library.   

Constitution Hill has been affectionately handed down from generation to generation, each young family leaving its mark upon the house. Perry Morgan developed Constitution Hill in the early 1980’s and is happy to have new life flowing through this magnificent household; to pass along to new families, who value its tangible and intangible beauty, the legacy of Constitution Hill.
The gardens in spring as seen from the lawn and The Morgan’s “nanny” promenading the family’s youngest.

Constitution Hill was an early adopter of the residential cluster or open space development. The design groups residential properties in order to preserve areas of the land as open space, preserving the front lawn and large meadow at Constitution Hill.

For more information on the history of CH see the CH Detailed History by Virginia Seldon.