Edgar Palmer – The Visionary of Palmer Square

Mr. Edgar Palmer

If you have ever been to Princeton or the surrounding areas, you may have heard of Palmer Square. Named after its visionary and developer, Mr. Edgar Palmer, the Square “boasts a unique collection of shopping and dining right in the heart of downtown.”

As mentioned in our previous post about its history, Palmer Square is currently celebrating its 75th Anniversary. And as we learned about the history and design, it made us wonder about the man behind the Square. Who was Edgar Palmer? And why did he envision Palmer Square?

A beloved husband and father, Mr. Palmer was a doting family man.  He thrived on community, close-knit ties, and pride.  Professionally, his business skills were unparalleled. A graduate of Princeton University (class of 1903), and then a charter trustee, Mr. Palmer inherited the New Jersey Zinc Company where he was President until 1943. During his prosperous career, he proved to be a generous philanthropist.  He donated much to Princeton, a town he lived in and loved, as well as our country during World Wars I and II. Palmer House and Palmer Stadium were two renowned donations.

Picture courtesy of Princeton University

Palmer House, which is located on Princeton University campus, was Mr. Palmer’s residence and donated by his wife after his death.  Palmer Stadium, which was named after and dedicated to his father Stephen Palmer, was another donation to the University. During World War I and II, Mr. Palmer gave his first and second schooners, both named Guinevere, to the US Navy.  Always willing to help fellow sea mates, Mr. Palmer was a well-known yachtsman and served as Commodore of American Yacht Club in Rye, NY. 

So what brought this man, a doting family man, the heir to a company, and humanitarian, to design the central hub of Palmer Square that we all know and love? Simply put…it was a dream.

Mr. Palmer envisioned an area that would offer residents a home above or near shops and within Construction began on his dream in 1936.  At the time of his death in 1943, Mr. Palmer got to see about half of his vision completed.  Princeton embraced what Mr. Palmer planned and continued the project in his honor – eventually naming the square after him.

The Residences at Palmer Square

While construction on the shops of Palmer Square finished long ago, Mr. Palmer’s dream is still being refined. In 2010, construction began on the Residence at Palmer Square, the final piece to complete his dream to live, shop, dine, and stay in an urban up-scale setting.

Even we here at the Nassau Inn are dusting ourselves off and undergoing a rejuvenation, which will be finished by 2013.

We are happy to uphold his legacy (in part with our own) within the community and we encourage those to enjoy Edgar Palmer’s dream first hand.  Looking to take a vacation? Stay at the Nassau Inn!  Looking to live in Princeton? Consider the Residences at Palmer Square!  Come experience the Square and all it has to offer.

By: Stephanie Piccarillo and Lauren Scarpa

Leave a Comment