Olmsted’s Idealistic Enclave in Cadwalader Heights

A leafy neighborhood of Trenton, Cadwalader Heights will host its 25th Historic Home and Garden Tour on Saturday, September 12.

One of the grand homes in the planned community of Cadwalader Heights in Trenton.
One of the grand homes in the planned community of Cadwalader Heights in Trenton.
Photo by Ed Osborne

A stroll through the leafy Trenton community of Cadwalader Heights takes you on miniature world tour. A Craftsman home tucked on a small court overlooking a canal exudes European charm. A 1½-story cottage boasts Tuscan columns. An 18-room stone English manor house recalls a medieval castle.

Located on Trenton’s western edge, Cadwalader Heights is the only residential area in New Jersey designed by the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Eleven vintage homes in this notable community will open to the public on September 12 for the neighborhood’s 25th Historic Home and Garden Tour.

The self-guided walking tour captures the eclecticism of the neighborhood, with its more than 14 architectural styles. Notable details abound, including slate roofs, half-timbered woodwork, Juliet balconies, vaulted ceilings, sweeping staircases, marble fireplaces and murals. Like the homes, many of their inhabitants, past or present, have a unique story, from the U.S. District Court judge who granted Albert Einstein citizenship, to the local department store tycoon who built a house for his daughter. Right after it was completed, his wake was held there.

Olmsted, the visionary who created New York City’s Central Park, designed the 16-acre Cadwalader Heights in 1891. He believed that neighborhoods created in harmony with nature would attract diverse residents and promote a strong sense of community. The first of the 73 houses that remain today was completed in 1907. Trenton’s civic leaders, industrialists and foremost educators quickly made Cadwalader Heights their home.

The tour will run noon to 5 pm, rain or shine, starting at Cadwalader Asbury United Methodist Church, 900 Stuyvesant Avenue. It includes the Trenton City Museum in Ellarslie Mansion.

Each tour home will feature food from local restaurants. On-street parking is free. Tickets are $20 in advance at cadwaladerheights.com or $25 on tour day. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the I Am Trenton Community Foundation, which supports organizations that improve Trenton quality of life.

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