About The Gilder Family
The Gilder family, which also includes the Nutts and Bunting families, rose to prominence in the publishing world of New York City with Richard Watson Gilder as the Editor of Century Magazine, his sister Jeanette Gilder as a noted author, and his brother William H. Gilder as a renowned newspaper correspondent and arctic adventurer. The original Gilder House which still stands here at the entrance to the park on Crosswicks Street, was the country home of the Gilder family. Of further significance is the findings of research which indicate that the Gilders, prior to the Emancipation Proclamation and the close of the Civil War, hid runaway slaves on the property.
The Gilder House is the cultural centerpiece of Gilder Park. The Gilder family gave the park to Bordentown City in 1935. Rodman de Kay Gilder gave the house, which dates back to the 1700's, and surrounding farm to the City under the condition that the house would serve as a museum or public library to the community. The Gilder House is a key component of the Bordentown Historic District which was placed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places in 1976 and the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
The Life of Richard Watson Gilder
Richard Watson Gilder was the confidant of Presidents Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt. He was a personal friend of Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Robert Louis Stevensen and other literary giants of the day. He never lost affection or regard for this childhood refuge, or for the city of Bordentown. In his poem "The Old House" he captures it best.
Home of my forbears, home of my dreaming childhood,
House that I love with a love instinctive, changeless,
Ancestral, mystical, passionate tender, sorrowful;
Old house where I was born and my mother before me.
Gilder's life was one of intellectual curiosity and pursuit, balanced with intense public service. He was instrumental in preserving many historically significant buildings in New York City, pursued civil service reform, international copyright protection, education reform for the underprivileged and many supporting arts based programs.
Funding for the 2008 exterior restoration has been made possible in part by the Garden State Historic Preservation Trust administered by the New Jersey Historic Trust/State of New Jersey, The City of Bordentown, The Bordentown Historical Society, and The Gilder Park Revitalization Fund at the Princeton Area Community Foundation. Support for the Gilder Fund was provided by Marlene and David Thompson, Tim Loretangeli, and Marguerite Mount, Bill and Esther Collom and generous member of the Greater Bordentown Community.