MERCER HILL HISTORIC DISTRICT ASSOCIATION

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10 Mercer Street, The Bonner Foundation

Bonner.JPG (62030 bytes)        Bonner2.JPG (61314 bytes)

REPRINTED FROM the website of 

The Corella & Bertram F. Bonner Foundation:

The History of Sheldon House

The story of the Sheldon House begins with Isaac Sheldon, who arrived as one of 16 settlers from Essex, England in 1654 on the banks of a broad river in Northampton, Massachusetts. Sheldon was given three parcels of property and on them built three homes.

The last one he completed became the family homestead and was to burn to the ground in the early 1800s. A new home was built in its place in the Greek revival temple style some thirty years later.

The tale continues with Reverend George Sheldon, Isaac's great great grandson, who was given a charge in Princeton and needed suitable housing. After renting a home from Dr. Samuel Miller for a year, a home which remains today as the Nassau Club, George Sheldon purchased the land which was originally Dr. Miller's orchard.

As their plans were being finalized to build an elaborate Victorian home on the property, George inherited the family's house and land in Northampton. George was left in a quandary - renting the house would be impracticable but he did not want to sell the home which had been so long in the family.

His wife then had the idea to move the house from Northampton to the Mercer Street site, which is precisely what they decided to do.

With the help of a Princeton builder, Dr. Sheldon arranged to have the house taken down and shipped from the Connecticut River, through the Sound, down the East River and finally to the Delaware and Raritan Canal. One might imagine this an exorbitant expense but because it took place soon after the Civil War when building materials were quite costly, the project was not as expensive as it may appear.

The house remained in the family, some 96 years, until it was given to the University by Edward W. Sheldon, 14 generations later, in 1929.

Sheldon House then became the home for junior faculty of the University, many of whom spent their entire academic careers living there. In 1996, Mrs. Corella Bonner became interested in restoring the Sheldon House to its original grandeur. With the help of a local architect and contractor and a team of talented craftspeople, technicians, historians and decorators, Mrs. Bonner has preserved the integrity of the home while making it a functional space to accommodate the offices of the Bonner Foundation.