Howard Russell Butler’s “ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED”

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The former art studio of Howard Russell Butler in his self-designed Princeton residence, 107 Library Place.

Our newest A-LIST feature, the “THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED”, (inspired by Lin Manuel Miranda’s Broadway genius, “Hamilton”) seeks to honor the extraordinary history of properties in the Princeton area, and the unprecedented legacy of their distinguished and notable residents.  From Einstein to Toni  Morrison, our town has been home to Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, Oscar winners, and Presidents…just to name a few.

Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 12.49.36 PMIn this first installment of “THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED”, we celebrate Princeton University alumnus and Princeton resident Howard Russell Butler (1856-1934).  A portrait and landscape artist, he was a graduate of the University’s first school of science. He obtained a law degree from Columbia University, left the profession to pursue his art, and ultimately founded New York City landmark, the American Fine Arts Society.

Butler went on to work for Andrew Carnegie for many years, first as the president of Carnegie Music Hall, after which he oversaw the purchase and construction of Carnegie’s Fifth Avenue mansion (now the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum), and sold off the adjacent lots that now comprise the Upper East Side historic neighborhood, Carnegie Hill.  Their final collaboration was the creation of Lake Carnegie in Princeton.

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In 1911, Butler moved to Princeton, this time as a resident. The stunning Italianate Villa he designed, 107 Library Place, is within three blocks of town center and long admired as one of the most stately homes in Princeton.  The abundant space with soaring ceilings and wonderful natural light, the grand-sized rooms, exquisite architectural details, oak-sheathed library with 12-foot ceiling and 2-story glass-topped atrium all offer turn-of-the-century magnificence and display Butler’s masterful hand, while affording comfortable living and entertaining spaces.

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107 Library Place has since been meticulously updated and maintained for a modern lifestyle. Recent renovations include a chef’s kitchen, luxurious master suite with a spa bath, Jacuzzi tub, and 4-person cedar sauna – plus bedroom wings and a full apartment to easily accommodate family and guests. On one of Princeton’s most prized streets, this masterpiece is enveloped by lush gardens and a delightful air of privacy.

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And now to come full circle, just in time for the first solar eclipse of this century on August 21, 2017, the Princeton University Art Museum’s newest exhibit features the oil on canvas Eclipse Paintings of Howard Russell Butler. At a time when photography could not yet capture the nuances of the eclipsed sun, Butler’s paintings were a tour de force, providing astronomers and the public with perhaps the best record of eclipses at the time. 

Stay tuned to see our next A-LIST “ROOM”, where we continue to celebrate our town’s remarkable properties and its residents…

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Solar Eclipse, Connecticut-New York, 1925. Oil on canvas, right panel of triptych Princeton University, gift of H. Russell Butler Jr.