FitzRandolph Gate

FitzRandolph Gate.
FitzRandolph Gate. Photo: Denise Applewhite

The imposing wrought-iron gate, known as FitzRandolph Gate, is the official entrance to Princeton's campus. It was funded by a bequest from Augustus Van Wickle in honor of his great grandfather, Nathaniel FitzRandolph. The son of a 17th-century Quaker settler of Princeton, FitzRandolph was instrumental in raising the money and land required to build the college, and in 1753 he gave the original four and a half acres on which Nassau Hall was built.

The gate was designed by the firm of McKim, Meade and White (who also designed the 1911 Ferris Thompson Gateway in front of Bowen Hall) and erected in 1905. As an entrance, however, the gate was largely symbolic. It was kept closed and locked except at graduation, the P-rade or the advent of a particularly notable guest, such as the Crown Prince of Sweden in 1926.

It was the Class of 1970 who "in a symbol of the University's openness to the local and worldwide community," ensured upon their graduation that the FitzRandolph Gate would always remain open to the town and the world beyond it. Their class motto, "Together for Community," is inscribed in the east pillar of the gateway, as is a peace symbol in the zero of 1970.

Since 1970, the gate has remained open for regular use by visitors and residents alike. In the decades since, however, many students have avoided using the gates until graduation, swayed by lore and legend.

In 2005, the gate was extensively restored in time for its 100th anniversary. Some original parts had to be reconstructed, and altogether, more than 230 pieces of cast metal were replaced. All new and restored parts, constructed from authentic wrought iron from England, were hand forged using traditional blacksmithing methods and tools.