Renovation of house is found to be princely


PRINCETON -- Built in 1930, the two-story brick house on Lafayette Road West had sustained some serious damage over the years and the owners decided to restore it to its original Colonial-era appearance.

"The owners wanted to bring the house back to its original magnificence," said Jim Baxter, owner of Baxter Construction Inc., "use the same materials the house was built with and restore the windows instead of trying to buy new ones and leave the existing roof and just fix it. A lot of times these days we're not seeing that."

The owners of the house, Prince of Morocco Moulay Hicham Ben Abdallah and his wife, Malika Benabdelali, are so pleased with the project that they plan to embark on an interior restoration as well.

"This is exactly what preservation is all about," Baxter said. "It's not about knocking it down and building condos. These newer houses aren't built like these old beautiful homes are."

Last month the house project won the annual restoration award from the Historical Society of Princeton. It was among several Princeton homes singled out for merit from the group, which wants to see traditional architecture protected as the area evolves.

Perhaps the biggest part of the project was the reconstruction of the entranceway to include new columns and balustrade of the front entry semicircular portico. Baxter Construction also replaced the siding with stucco, restored all the windows, the built-in gutters, the roofing and all the masonry, and rebuilt the rear garden room.

"It's something that was restored," said Baxter, who worked with architect Ronald Berlin to complete the job. "That house is going to last another 100 years," Baxter said.

Two additional private residential buildings on Wiggins Street and Alexander Street won in the stewardship and compatible additions categories, respectively.

All of this year's winning projects add value to the community and help sustain Princeton's aesthetically beautiful quality, according to Maynett Breithaupt, who won the advocacy award for her dedication to the cause of historic preservation. Breithaupt was a member of the Princeton Township Historic Preservation Commission for 15 years, 10 of which she served as its chair.