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The Bordentown estate of Joseph Bonaparte, the exiled king and Napoleon's brother, gets right to the point with the May opening of a new Discovery Center in the renovated Gardener’s House at historic Point Breeze.

The Gardener's House in Bordentown is the only building that remains standing from the time when Joseph Bonaparte, the exiled King of Naples and Spain, erected his extravagant estate at Point Breeze. Ahead of its opening to the public as a long-awaited Discovery Center this May, the renovated structure has received the royal treatment and will be a place where visitors can learn about the historic and natural narratives of the land.

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Joseph Bonaparte is depicted in his coronation robes as the new King of Spain in a painting by François Gérard.

Despite Point Breeze’s eras occupied by the Lenape Native Americans, a British politician, an entrepreneur, and several religious organizations, these stories were often blown past with the same swiftness suggested in the name—in favor of the former monarch, who was the older brother of Napoleon Bonaparte—rather than comprehensively told.

But the property that was once on the verge of being redeveloped has more chapters to come thanks to a collaboration of community conservation efforts from the City of Bordentown, the State of New Jersey's Green Acres Program, and the nonprofit D&R Greenway Land Trust, which partnered to purchase it in late 2020 from the Society of the Divine Word, or Divine Word Missionaries, its prior owner of 80 years.

D&R Greenway is the Princeton-based land preservation group that oversaw and funded the reconstruction of Bonaparte's circa 1820 Gardener's House, the two-story structure they bought in addition to one of the 60 available acres. With upcoming exhibitions and events, the environmental entity will operate the Discovery Center at Point Breeze as an extension of their commitment to protecting natural open space throughout New Jersey.

Linda Mead is the president and CEO of D&R Greenway, which is now finalizing their informational materials alongside Miles Truesdell III, the creative director and photographer of Leigh Visual Imaging in Princeton. Truesdell is responsible for the design and installation of the image-based panels covering everything from archeology to horticulture, incorporating additional research by the D&R curatorial team.

Exhibit Panels Point Breeze

The Discovery Center at Point Breeze is under the operation of Princeton's D&R Greenway and features exhibits designed by Miles Truesdell III of Leigh Visual Imaging, which will inform visitors about the history of the property alongside docent-led tours. (Photo by Miles Truesdell III of Leigh Visual Imaging)

D&R Greenway will debut these displays during their gala on Sunday, May 7, a fundraiser and garden party offering the first chance to take a docent-led tour of the Discovery Center from 4 to 6 p.m. Be ready to browse the historic vegetable and herb garden they restored last year, which grows 27 heritage varieties reflective of what was planted in the 1820s.

Johan Firmenich is set to be awarded the 2023 Donald B. Jones Conservation Award for his leadership on Mountain View Road in Montgomery Township during the program. For tickets or more information, see the D&R Greenway website at

The celebration at Point Breeze will recognize the region as part of the ancestral home of the Lenni Lenape, known as “Lenapehoking,” first stewarded 13,000 years ago.

Named after the upward winds that rise from where Crosswicks Creek flows into and joins the Delaware River, this site sits at the confluence of the two waterways and is the southern access point to the Abbott Marshlands, a central New Jersey expanse of wetlands, woods, and diverse wildlife. As the grand unveiling of Point Breeze approaches on Saturday, May 20, the Discovery Center looks to reestablish the “spiritual connection” between the earth's resources and its inhabitants, just as the “original people” (a literal translation for Leni Lenape) once did.

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The bluffs of Point Breeze sit above the confluence of Crosswicks Creek and the Delaware River in the Abbott Marshlands, as seen in an 1818 painting by Thomas Birch.

During the program, guests can enter the Discovery Center for a recommended yet voluntary $10 donation from 1 to 5 p.m. and attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony with key figures in the restoration saga, including a Native blessing by Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania storyteller Barbara "Bluejay" Michalski. Summer hours will then be on subsequent Thursdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

Mead suggested typing “Divine Word Missionaries” into the GPS rather than the address to avoid being sent downtown, then entering the estate at 101 Park Street and following the dirt road to the right. Bordentown has relocated its new municipal building complex with administrative offices and a city hall in the heart of the huge property, which will also be the site of the new police station.

As part of this evolution of civic engagement that culminated in the $4.6 million joint sale, the remaining state-owned land will continue serving as a public park that Mead hopes to see flourish and instruct visitors on exactly what the project protects.

Trained as a lawyer and diplomat, Joseph Bonaparte became the King of Naples when his younger sibling Napoleon, the ruthless French military commander who would declare himself the First Consul of France and emperor, rose to power.

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Another portrait of Joseph Bonaparte by Josée Flaugier.

In Naples, Joseph was relatively respected and admired, but Napoleon soon grew disappointed in his performance. He was deposed in favor of his younger sister Caroline’s husband, Joachim Murat, and made to govern Spain in the aftermath of the French invasion. Although Joseph ended the Spanish Inquisition, he failed to reclaim any semblance of his former popularity and would later abdicate the position—after making multiple offers of his own to do so—just before his brother’s Waterloo 1815 defeat.

As the allied troops encroached on Paris, Joseph left his French residence at the Château de Mortefontaine and escaped from Europe in the hull of a ship without his wife, Marie Julie Clary, surrounded by casks of wine and with papers designating him as an “M. Bouchard.”

Joseph renamed himself “Comte de Survilliers,” or “Count of Survilliers,” after the title of a petite property near his Mortefontaine residence, but he was swiftly recognized and encouraged to seek political asylum from President James Madison; while Madison rejected an official meeting with him, he permitted Joseph to stay as long as he did so discreetly.

Joseph settled in Bordentown the following year and purchased Point Breeze from Stephen Sayre, a merchant, the former High Sheriff of London, and later the private secretary of Benjamin Franklin. While in England, Sayre's fervent support for American independence culminated in his arrest for “high treason” for an alleged kidnapping plot against King George III, a charge he was acquitted of.

Napoleon had personally recommended that Joseph find an area between Philadelphia and New York to settle, which made Point Breeze an optimal spot for him to live a lavish lifestyle away from prying eyes; he did so by building an enormous, three-story mansion of palatial grandeur that made any initial secrecy somewhat of a moot point for the ex-monarch.

He would ultimately own more than 1,800 acres in the surrounding area, which included the estate where he lived from 1816 to 1832 before returning to London and then splitting his time between the two until 1839, when he left Point Breeze for the last time before his death.

The home touted what was regarded as both the earliest and most expansive major art gallery, including a copy of the oil painting “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” by Jacques-Louis David, as well as one of the first to implement landscape design. He was also known to have the largest collection of books in the country in his private library, which comprised over 8,000 volumes—even more than the Library of Congress did.

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"Point Breeze, the Estate of Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte at BordentownNew Jersey" by Charles B. Lawrence.

Bonaparte erected numerous buildings and fixtures, both scenic and functional, on the bluff, such as a large belvedere observation tower to take in the view, bridges, a temple, and a massive European-style garden. To take care of everything and execute Joseph’s vision, the “picturesque” Point Breeze required an exorbitant number of laborers and maintenance workers, many of whom also lived on the grounds.

Gorgeous statuaries, fountains, and Etruscan vases populated Point Breeze in as much abundance as the diverse animal and plant life did, demonstrating how deeply Joseph, who was often hands-on and wore a coating of dirt he thought mightier than any crown, preferred his pastimes of “beautification” above all else.

Napoleon astutely predicted his brother’s American lifestyle in a quote that would prove true even in spite of setbacks: “He will be a bourgeois American and spend his fortune in making gardens.”

On January 4, 1820, the first mansion caught fire as Joseph returned from New York, with neighbors rushing to retrieve his belongings and nearly securing all the valuables that could be safely saved.

Richard F. Veit, Ph.D., a Monmouth University professor, historian, and archaeologist, has overseen the onsite excavations in 2007 where the first mansion was and in 2021 near the Gardener's House, which resulted in the recovery of at least 20,000 artifacts.

This loss, according to Veit and Michael J. Gall’s 2011 “Archaeological Examination of Joseph Bonaparte's Point Breeze Estate” report via the Abbott Marshlands website, led Joseph to start the process of building his second home. He then converted the estate’s preexisting horse stables closer to Park Street into an aesthetic resembling an "Italian villa," a contrast to the other mansion's neoclassical design.

Charles Lucien Bonaparte

Charles Lucien Bonaparte, or the "Father of Descriptive Ornithology," painted by artist Thomas Herbert Maguire.

Another addition was that Bonaparte also devised a system of underground tunnels to better maneuver across the vast estate, which connected to the waterway for commerce and transportation as well as to provide a potential escape route.

Yet, because of Julie Clary’s poor health, Joseph’s wife never came to live at Point Breeze and remained in Europe, while his daughters, Zénaïde and Charlotte, arrived a few years later—the former with naturalist Charles Lucien, a collaborator of John James Audubon who would become known as the “father of American descriptive ornithology.”

The son of Joseph and Napoleon’s younger brother, Lucien Bonaparte, Charles Lucien married his cousin, Zénaïde, which made him Joseph’s nephew and son-in-law. The couple lived in the "Lake House," a new abode by the second mansion.

During this time, Joseph added more lodging for guests in the “Wash House,” as well as a residence for his gardener on the eastern side of the property, the “Gardener’s House.” Although the latter building's exterior was initially a combination of brick and wood with a smooth white stucco that matched Joseph's second home, the textured design was added during Divine Word's ownership of the site.

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The rear yard of the Discovery Center, where a statue of St. Joseph, donated by Divine Word Missionaries, overlooks the historic garden.

From the garden at the rear of what will now be the Discovery Center, the vestiges of the great orchard can be seen in the distance, leaving only a few trees in their place. After officially opening in October of last year, the space will be used for varieties of plants from Bonaparte’s era, including several indigenous crops that the Lenape cultivated.

Gardener and land steward Lara Periard, who will also be the manager of the Discovery Center, researched the plants and aligned the plots according to the original ones from the historic 1847 map of the site with oversight from an advisory committee comprised of members like Val Sassaman, Joel Dowshen of Bordentown City, and Rebecca Wilkinson Flemer of the Princeton Nurseries Family.

1847 Point Breeze Map

The 1847 map of Point Breeze used as a reference in the renovation process.

D&R’s Land and Property Steward, David Seiler, is also a carpenter with experience in historic renovations who designed and built the wooden fence to keep any animals, such as deer, from perusing the plants inside.

They began planting what they could in the fall of 2022, but being prepared at the start of the growing season this time around has enabled them to use more of the space for spring produce, Mead added, and she is especially looking forward to the squash and corn.

An arch indicates where the Gardener's House's back door and a flight of steps, one of which was discovered underground, would have been. Divine Word Missionaries donated a statue of St. Joseph, the patron saint of workers, families, travelers, and others who represent the diversity of individuals linked with Point Breeze, that presides over the native plants and French lavender growing nearby.

Originally founded as a center of camaraderie and study for anyone looking to pursue a religious profession, Divine Word changed courses to a high school seminary in the 1940s, expanding over the years with more facilities until Harris Hays Hammond’s mansion—which the prior owner had opulently transformed from the estate of Henry Beckett—caught fire in 1983.

This damage to the chapel and residence area marked the school's closure, but thanks to its insurance policy, Divine Word was reimbursed for the losses and, following some litigation, was able to remodel the former classroom building and turn it into a residence for active and semiretired missionaries.

On the way into the house, there is a walkway made of recycled bluestone recovered from the second Joseph Bonaparte mansion, which has since been integrated into the patio and path as a starting point for tours, Mead said. This way, she added, those coming to the estate can “walk in the footsteps of history.”

The two bronze sturgeon statues at the front of the property are by sculptor Kate Graves, Mead explained. Gesturing to the rocks around the signature sycamore tree, she said they remind her of Hammond, the investor and wealthy financier who owned the property from 1911 until he lost it in the 1929 stock market crash—at which point the bank repossessed it and it remained empty for more than a decade.

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Inventor John Hays Hammond Jr., left, the son of oil miner JHH Sr., right, was the brother of homeowner Harris Hays Hammond and tested his radio control technology at the Point Breeze's rock garden. (Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

His father was mining engineer John Hays Hammond, who acquired his fortune in South Africa through deep-level gold and diamond mining operations alongside British imperialist and 7th Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes was the controversial figure who, together with Hammond and colonial administrator Leander Starr Jameson, is known for the “Jameson Raid,” a failed 1895–96 insurgency intended to incite British and American foreign workers to revolt against the then-South African (or Transvaal) Republic.

As a result, Hammond, a co-conspirator with the Reform Committee, was tried for high treason in a similar fashion to former Point Breeze resident Sayre. His death sentence was commuted to a $125k fine upon release, after which he returned to America, according to a TIME Magazine article from 1937.

Harris Hays Hammond continued his father’s legacy as the owner of Dominguez Oil Fields Co. in California and the New Jersey centrifuge manufacturer Laughlin Filter Corp. He hired stonemasons to erect a Chinese water garden at the end of the property with waterfalls and a tunnel system that called to mind Bonaparte’s own, as the exhibit materials explain. The magical, almost fairylike aesthetics of the grotto area once encircled the perimeter of a swimming pool that Harris’ brother, inventor John Hays Hammond Jr., made his own history in.

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Several towering formations remain standing in Hammond's grand rock garden at Point Breeze, as well as the faint outline where the swimming pool once was.

Hammond Jr. was a torpedo of a force renowned as the "Father of Radio Control," whose pioneering work became the basis for contemporary radio remote controls. He acquired "over 400 patents" in his career, expanding science, communication, and even naval warfare equipment with missile guidance systems that are still in use today—and, according to Mead, he tested that very technology in the Point Breeze rock garden swimming pool.

When they lowered the sturgeon sculptures onto the ground using a crane and remote control, Mead said, it felt like a full-circle moment.

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Kate Graves with one of her Atlantic Sturgeon sculptures installed outside the Gardener’s House at the former Point Breeze estate.

The large, life-sized fish, based on a taxidermy sample from the New Jersey State Museum, is located on the property's left side and points to the Delaware River, while the smaller one, known as the “baby sturgeon,” is on the opposite. The two pieces, which flank the Gardener’s House as it faces the road, will be a reference point for visitors and staff alike to meet at the Discovery Center.

D&R Greenway began working on the Gardener’s House in the summer of 2021, and while the current structure is not an exact recreation of the original house, according to Mead, they hoped to instead "create a historical interpretation of the building" that will tell stories about the layers of land through a design evoking the period of its creation.

The main entrance was outfitted with paneled mahogany double doors based on historic drawings, which also showed two trees where the solitary sycamore now is.

Point Breeze Front Door Entrance

The front entrance to the Discovery Center at Point Breeze. (Photo by Miles Truesdell III of Leigh Visual Imaging)

Two flags will adorn the outside pole, with the first being specially made for the estate and representing the three Lenape clans—turtle, wolf, and turkey—designed by Eric Labacz, who was connected to Mead through Adam DePaul of Temple University. Truesdell is working on the other, which will have a crest symbolizing Joseph Bonaparte's role at Point Breeze.

Stepping inside, the Gardener’s House illustrates the entryway Joseph Bonaparte made into the political, scientific, and artistic scene of Bordentown that welcomed him. The orientation area to the right is the "People of Point Breeze" room, which starts with the Lenape and highlights how the landscape of the estate has evolved over time.

Mead emphasized that this project would not have been possible without the work of former mayor James "Jim" Lynch, whose spirited involvement helped safeguard the open space from turning into housing complexes or warehouses.

Lynch was concerned about severing this connection to local history and the potential health dangers these facilities posed, as the Delaware River supplies clean drinking water to approximately 15 million people.

Thanks to care from those such as director-manager Father Poole and Rev. Martin H. Padovani, the latter of whom spent 60 years at Point Breeze and holds the record for the longest assignment there, Divine Word shared the same vision D&R Greenway had and approved the sale.

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The historically accurate produce, as represented in a still life by Paulette Z. Hill in the Discovery Center kitchen.

Through the “People of Point Breeze” room is the “Gardener’s Kitchen,” which has only been lightly updated with a deep sink perfect for washing produce and an 1830 Morris Tasker iron bake wall oven, which hangs next to a still life of vegetables by artist Paulette Z. Hill. She used the same list of produce compiled by Val Sassaman and the Bordentown Historical Society's vice president, Doug Kiovsky, to scout farmers' markets for uncommon crops like white eggplants, with this array of agriculture originating in an 1830s edition of horticulturist Bernard McMahon’s (or M’Mahon’s) “American Gardener's Calendar.”

When they started work on the Gardener’s House, Mead noted that most of the building was outdated, with drop ceilings, shag carpeting, and dusty drapes, as a result of changes Divine Word made in the 1960s. These also carried over to the left room, now known as the "Crown Jewels Gallery," where non-bearing walls separated a path to the bathroom and the living spaces for the retired priests, four of whom were still living at Point Breeze until 2020.

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D&R Greenway President Linda Mead and exhibit designer Miles Truesdell III pose by the display case in the "Crown Jewels Gallery" at the Discovery Center. (Photo by Miles Truesdell III of Leigh Visual Imaging)

After taking those down, the curatorial team discovered the antique, hand-printed wallpaper underneath and restored the picture rails, which are now present in every room but perhaps the most regal in the "Crown Jewels Gallery.”

In the exhibit materials, Veit wrote that the title of the space comes from the legend of when the former king, before coming to America, fled to and secretly buried crown jewels in Switzerland—as well as solitaire diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, fashionable items of value like collars and epaulets, swords, belts, and more—then sent Louis Mailliard, his secretary, personal assistant, and "closest confidant," to fetch them.

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The "Crown Jewels Gallery," named after the Bonaparte lore of how his luxurious estate was funded, will be home to revolving exhibits such as "The Jewels of Point Breeze," which display paintings of spots around the property. (Photo by Miles Truesdell III of Leigh Visual Imaging)

During his voyage, Mailliard purportedly tried to persuade Joseph’s family to accompany him at his request, according to Shannon Selin, author of “Napoleon in America,” a work of historical fiction based on her independent Bonaparte research.

Empty-handed in terms of additional guests but certainly not treasures, Mailliard returned to America, and Joseph was able to finance his lavish lifestyle. He spent time in Hamilton's Bow Hill mansion, rented a townhouse in Philadelphia, and purchased 150,000 acres in upstate New York around what is now called Bonaparte Lake.

The inaugural set of revolving exhibits will be displayed at least through the end of 2023 and showcase paintings of prominent spots, or "the Jewels of Point Breeze," that align with D&R Greenway’s interpretation that "the land and the resources," such as the fruit orchards, rock garden, carriage bridge, and the view from atop the Bordentown bluffs, hold the true value.

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The watercolor artwork in "Crown Jewels," done in partnership with the Garden State Watercolor Society, shows images of the same produce grown in the historic garden. (Photo by Miles Truesdell III of Leigh Visual Imaging)

The interior of the cabinet illuminates pieces portraying magnolias, chamomile, and even Joseph's favorite, artichokes, in collaboration with the Garden State Watercolor Society.

Crown Jewels Garden Watercolors

The pieces on view match the list of plants, fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the 1820s.

Wendy Kvalheim, a member of D&R's Board of Trustees and the president of Mottahedeh, a distributor of porcelain, ceramic, and china and design firm, donated the display cases in the Gardener’s House that showcase artifacts both donated and discovered.

The carved wooden duck decoys downstairs, created by Bob White and on view courtesy of collector Jay Vawter, bear the likenesses of local bird species like gadwall, wigeon, and canvasback. Also included are three ceramic tile Divine Word panels from the religious group’s annual gala, which each portray a different building and are labeled with the year of their creation; several archaeological finds from Veit’s digs; and a ceremonial tool that belonged to a priest from New Guinea.

Additional materials and literature on where people can go to learn more, Mead explained, include the Tulpehaking Nature Center in Mercer County, the NJ State Museum, D&R Greenway's TravelStorys tours on the Delaware River and Abbott Marshlands, the Bordentown Historical Society’s exhibit on Joseph Bonaparte, and more.

The bathrooms are even named after the two closest bodies of water to Point Breeze—the Delaware River Water Closet downstairs and the Crosswicks Creek Water Closet on the second floor—that serve as additional, yet unconventional, opportunities for learning.

Enhanced interior features highlight the historic components that culminate at Point Breeze. The house's windows, for example, are now sporting Empire-style curtains from Nancy Robinson-Long and Bert Kerstetter of Calico Corners in Yardley, which were based on photographs of 1820s French drapes.

An American brass fixture greets guests at the entrance, along with an Italian blown glass piece named "Vento" ("wind") that floats over the staircase like the grass at Point Breeze and complements the Spanish chandelier on the top floor.

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"Vento," an Italian glass chandelier, symbolizes Joseph Bonaparte's mixed Italian and French identities.

The origin of the second piece is especially relevant because Joseph and Napoleon Bonaparte were both born on the island of Corsica, as Mead explained, the former as Giuseppe di Buonaparte on January 7, 1768, before France would conquer Corsica that same year. When Napoleon came into the world in 1769, he was technically French, not Italian, despite the nationality of his parents; thus, “Vento” represents Joseph's dual Italian and French identities.

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"Vento" as seen with the third, Spanish chandelier upstairs.

Pass under the third chandelier, a Spanish one commemorating Joseph Bonaparte’s time as ruler of the country, and enter the “Walk Through Time” room to the left of the staircase. This chronicles the colonial age of Point Breeze through timelines on the walls that also delve into the other owners that succeeded Joseph Bonaparte:

Thomas Richards and his wife Anna Bartram, the granddaughter of botanist John Bartram; Beckett, the British Consul at Philadelphia, described as "a fervent Francophobe" who destroyed Bonaparte’s second mansion to erect a "modern" residence of his own; the Vincentian Fathers of Philadelphia, an all-male Roman Catholic society of apostolic life who used it as a short-lived summer retreat; Hammond; and finally, Divine Word from 1940 to 2020.

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This never-before-seen 1819 French portrait of Joseph Bonaparte by Louis Goubaud, gifted by descendants of his secretary, Louis Mailliard, will be on display in the "Walk Through Time" room at the Discovery Center.

Another figure of focus here is Mailliard, Joseph’s “right hand man” for 36 years after the two met at Mortefontaine. It was there that Mailliard also came to know his future wife, Marguerite Angelique Redet, and married her at the castle. The couple worked and lived together at Point Breeze until Redet gave birth to a son, Adolphe, but she died just days later. Because of this heartbreak, Mailliard's relatives raised Adolphe, and he remained by Joseph’s side without ever finding another love.

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The only original mantel left at Point Breeze's 1820 Gardener's House.

In a Community News Service exclusive, Mead shared that the room’s mantel, the only original one left in the entire home, will be reunited with the visage of its most famous former tenant and display a never-before-seen 1819 French portrait of Joseph Bonaparte above the fireplace. This 19th-century art piece by Louis Goubaud was recently restored and had been privately held for years until the William S. Mailliard family learned of D&R Greenway’s work at Point Breeze and offered to loan it for a three-year period.

The exhibits in the “Natural World” room on the upper right were funded by a bequest from the estate of  Gene Gladston, a D&R Greenway trustee whose legacy of birding and land preservation endures via the space's materials on environmental education—where a humble library represents Bonaparte's enormous literary landscape.

The bottom shelf of the display case features types of Native American patterned pottery fragments, more of Veit's artifacts from 2007, an arrowhead collection, and large stone tools on loan from Monmouth University.

There is also contemporary work by JaneWalkingstickRoop, a Cape May-based artist who is a member of the Lenape tribe of Pennsylvania and creates wood carvings and animal beadwork. As an environmentalist herself, Roop advocates for clean water and maintaining trails, the latter of which inspired her to turn cedar branches into walking sticks similar to those utilized in ceremonies by Lenape Chiefs, according to the exhibit materials.

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The display case in the "Natural World" room features Lenape artifacts and artwork. (Photo by Miles Truesdell III of Leigh Visual Imaging)

Dr. Daniel Druckenbrod of Rider University is responsible for the several dated tree core samples that reveal one dating back to 1756 and another from an 1830s-era fallen ash tree that lived from 1830 to 2016 and was originally planted on Bonaparte’s estate. These are joined by two circa 1956 porcelain cardinals from English artist Dorothy Doughty, whose work was noted for its lifelike qualities, and Greg Pedersen wood carvings of a Prothonotary Warbler and Indigo Bunting, all of which are on loan from Vawter.

Mead pointed out that three of the paint colors adorning the rooms—a soft beige tan in the “People of Point Breeze” room, the peach tone on the walls north of the “Time” room with a big window perfect for taking in a scenic view of the sights and spring maple trees, as well as the blue-green in the Ecology and Nature Room—are matched to the ones they uncovered in the process of restoring the house that have been there for many years.

Truesdell, a Pennington native who has lived in Mercer County his entire life, said learning about the full history of Point Breeze was an “eye opener” for him. In his perspective, the most challenging aspect of the exhibit process has been tying all of the elements together in a cohesive way that marries the global and local connections within Point Breeze’s legacy.

After 26 years spent apart, Joseph Bonaparte returned to Europe and reunited with Julie before he died of complications from an earlier stroke on July 28, 1844, in Florence, Italy, at the age of 76. Charles Lucien and Zénaïde’s son, Joseph Lucien Bonaparte, inherited the estate from his grandfather and sold many of the possessions before Richards came into the picture.

But Bonaparte is only one brushstroke of the Point Breeze portrait, with years of community-wide conservation converting each structure, whether debris or salvaged, into a synthesis of historic and natural knowledge.

Mead shared that a conversation with her Lenape advisors crystallized this important takeaway for her, which is that the land has been here before us and will be here after us, and with every generation come new stewards who will shape its future.

Humans have survived by cherishing this relationship, Mead noted, and so she has always felt a similarly strong pull towards preservation—and to do her part in layering these stories against the landscape of the Discovery Center at Point Breeze.

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