President Dr. Nancy B. Moody and Susan D. Vance ‘91, interim vice president for Institutional Advancement, had the opportunity on a recent development trip to New Jersey to visit the Tusculum house at Princeton University, the original source of the College’s unique name
The house is located on Cherry Hill Road near the modern day Princeton campus. Dr. Moody and Vance had the opportunity to visit the site and take a few photographs on their trip. The house is no longer owned by Princeton University, but is a private residence.
The Tusculum house was the summer home and farm of Princeton President John Witherspoon, who only agreed to take the position as president if the college would provide him a house at least one mile from campus. Although its current property boundaries do not coincide with those prevailing in Witherspoon’s day, they do retain a sense of the agricultural open space that surrounded the house originally.
Tusculum College founders Hezekiah Balch and Samuel Doak, both studied at the College of New Jersey, which is now Princeton University. Tusculum Academy, one of the earlier incarnations of the College, was named by Doak and his son, Samuel Witherspoon Doak, after the home in New Jersey which was then the home of President Witherspoon. Witherspoon was a noted Presbyterian scholar and an original signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Witherspoon had taken the name for his Princeton home from Marcus Tullius Cicero, the Roman orator, philosopher, statesman and educator. Cicero, Rome’s greatest orator and perhaps its most articulate philosopher, wrote his five books on the subject of happiness, “Tusculanae Disputations,” while staying at his villa, named Tusculum, in the mountains of Tuscany.