Remembering the Charlotte Rachel Wilson Apartments
decades, the Seminary provided housing for married students and
families in the Charlotte Rachel Wilson (CRW) apartments, formerly known
as the Princeton Windsor Apartments (PW). Today, those buildings are
being replaced with new apartments for family housing that will open
next fall. We asked readers: How did living in PW/CRW contribute to your
experience at Princeton Seminary? We received many answers, but could
not include them all, either because of space or because memories were
about living in other places. All responses are in inSpire online.
I loved living in CRW. We only needed one car because there was a bus. I stayed fit in the pool and through exercise classes in the center. I studied for my comps there, and got my food there through the food co-op. I saw my classmates frequently, which moderated some of the competitiveness of the program. And when my parents visited, they treated us to lunch at the Greek diner!
Linda Mercadante (Ph.D., 1986)
In a word, CRW was the best part of my PTS experience. PTS is an excellent institution where my faith was stretched, encouraged, and strengthened. From its outstanding professors to its challenging material, it prepared me for the pastorate like few seminaries would. However, looking back, the highlight, without question, was my experience as a resident of CRW. Living alongside other married students, getting to know their families, caring for each other’s children, truly living life together, was the most formative component of my ministry preparation. Each year, I get together with a group of my Seminary colleagues. We encourage each other in our ministries, ask tough questions, and have fun. We learned to do that at CRW. I wish everyone’s experience at PTS could be as positive, and I hope and pray the new married student housing will facilitate that for many. But please, no pink bathrooms!
Don Coleman (M.Div., 2007)
One of the best things about living in CRW was the awesome Frisbee golf course I designed with Brian Boughter, Kent Winters-Hazelton, and several others. It started outside of 310 Emmons Drive, and wound its way through the entire complex. Attending classes and doing homework were certainly distractions from our Frisbee golf play, but we still managed to play almost every day, including major tournaments at the start and conclusion of each semester. Between 1982 and 1985, our errant shots knocked limbs off trees, wreaked havoc on flowerbeds, dented car doors, smacked unsuspecting pedestrians, and irritated neighbors. And there are approximately 274 Frisbees still residing on various rooftops and in assorted storm drains around CRW.
Rick Boyer (M.Div., 1985)
Southhampton, New York
We moved into CRW my senior year, after a year of living in the old, unrenovated Tennent Hall. We were in the last building at CRW to have non-Seminary residents, including a grumpy woman who was always at war with the postman, and who tore down any notices the Seminary posted. The Seminary had new thermal windows installed; our apartment was the contractor’s test run. When the contractor finished, I could reach my hand through the hole in the wall and open the door from the outside. The Seminary’s managers were not amused. I found the community life markedly different and more isolated than the main campus dorms or the Tennent campus. Nonetheless, we have good friends from those days, and remember them well.
David Roquemore (M.Div., 1983)
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
My wife, Becky, and I had our first apartment at PW. We lived on what we called “Emmons End” because our apartment building was next to a dead end on the cul-de-sac with nothing but open fields past us. The Seminary had established deacons groups, including some for married students at PW. Our group included five or six couples from two adjacent apartment buildings. It provided future ministry examples as we prayed, studied scripture, and played together. It was a wonderful experience.
John Nelsen (M.Div., 1979; D.Min., 1990)
El Paso, Texas
“I need a dog,” my wife announced one day. “You realize I’m graduating in a year, right?” I said. “I need a dog,” she repeated, undaunted. And that is how we moved from Tennent Hall to CRW. We adopted a beagle (Jerry) from a local rescue, and then another (Sadie) before the year was out. The four of us drove from New Jersey to Florida to start my first call in 1998. Sadie lived until 2009, and we still talk about that first night they met each other. Sadie ran around our apartment for about thirty minutes, including jumping on all of the furniture and standing on the kitchen table. The day of my Hebrew midterm, I came back to find that Jerry had (for the first time ever) gotten into the trash can and covered our entire floor with its contents. Ah, good times.
TJ Luoma (M.Div., 1998)
My sister and brother-in-law lived in CRW during my first year in seminary, while I was still single, living in Brown. CRW was where I ate Sunday dinners and met for Bible study with married women. It was where I sublet the summer I met my future husband, and we walked around and around the CRW block the night we had our DTR, or “define the relationship,” talk. CRW was where I moved when we were married during my last year in seminary. We left to do ministry for three years before coming back for my husband’s Ph.D. We came back with our ten-month-old son Caleb, who grew up in CRW. We just moved last summer, as Caleb was about to turn four. CRW has been very special to my family and me.
Carolyn Browning Helsel (M.Div., 2004; Th.M., 2010)
I arrived with my family at the CRW apartments in August 1987; the swimming pool closed a few weeks after our arrival. I was fortunate enough to get work study as a monitor for the community/study building at the far end of the complex. This provided me with a bit of income and a place to study all at the same time. I remember walking across the old bridge beyond the study center, right by the golf course and then being able to hike the path on the opposite side of the creek all the way into town. For married students, these apartments were great. While I felt a bit removed from campus life, I found dear friends in the apartments; my best friend lived right across from me on Emmons Drive. I just saw him after twenty years. It was safe for the kids, (and there were many of them) and truly was home for three years of my life.
Doug Madden (M.Div., 1990)
Bath, New York
We spent three great years living in an apartment on Farber Road. Community life at CRW was a highlight of our Seminary experience. During those years, CRW students contracted an old yellow school bus to drive us to and from campus. Every Monday evening, a group of women (students and spouses) met in each other’s homes to visit while we worked on stitchery projects. Group dinners and get-togethers were frequent and fun. The first winter, we discovered the apartment was warmer after an ice layer formed inside the old sliding glass door. By our senior year, the windows and sliding door had been replaced and the apartment was well sealed, but the patio was still a great extra refrigerator. Cross-country skiing from our apartment down the path onto the golf course was a delightful bonus after snowstorms. When the community center was built, we enjoyed a student-led exercise class several evenings a week. We hope the new apartments are a place of “welcome home” to new students and families for many years to come.
Dwayne Brown (M.Div., 1985); Victoria Brown (M.A. 1985)
Sheryl and I were married in May 1987 and moved into a first-floor apartment on Loestcher Place, next to the infamously zany family of Chuck Rush. Additional tenants included colonies of ornery ants, not to mention cockroaches! One night, we invited some neighbors over for a dinner of chicken parmesan. When I went to sprinkle on the particles of cheese, however, the top layer of the dish began to quiver. Then, as we watched in horror, small, mysteriously coated antennae rose to the surface. We had no time and no money to waste. Realizing the ants had stowed away in the can of parmesan, I convinced Sheryl to pick out a few bodies and stick the casserole in the oven at 450 degrees. Mmmm, good!
C. Scott Kinder-Pyle (M.Div., 1988)
I lived in the dorms for three years as a student and then at CRW for two years as a seminarian’s spouse. While the dorms provided a rich experience of meeting new people, CRW provided a real-world experience of creating Christian community. I was privileged to watch and listen as children squealed while playing in leaves, new babies were cooed over, and friends broke bread together. Prayers were offered, books shared, sports played, and cookies baked, as future leaders of Christ’s church grew together. I know God better because of my seminary experience in the classroom; yet, I praise God more joyfully because of the years spent in community at CRW.
Meagan Cracraft Hess (M.Div., 2008)
I wasn’t married while in seminary but had friends who were, and I was renewed visiting their space near the woods. We loved laughing, playing on the vast lawns, picnics, and cookouts. Plus, the proximity to the golf course was always an added bonus.
Carl Hilton-VanOsdall (M.Div., 1995)
There was something healthier about raising children in an atmosphere poor in material assets and rich in academic discourse. I have an image of a mix of dads who were M.Div. or doctoral students, pushing our kids on swings, drinking beer, and discussing something historical with enthusiasm and wit. You got to know people from babysitting in the co-op, organizing a farmer’s market, or planning a book trade. We were part of a diverse group that met every so often for sharing and prayer. We had one child, who routinely disappeared to work with the maintenance crew. They would call or just walk him back over on their way to cut the grass. You had a real sense that we were all in this together, tied by a commitment to learning and spirituality. My grandchildren have much more and yet much less. It was a great, unanticipated gift.
Chuck Rush (Ph.D., 1991)
Summit, New Jersey
Living at Princeton Windsor, we shared a small town experience, meeting outside in good weather, walking together, sharing meals—and some great parties! After living in Hodge Hall, the apartments felt luxurious with their open views of the golf course through all seasons, a pool, and tennis courts to enjoy in good weather. Forsythia bloomed in the spring, and many of us planted vegetable gardens so we could eat well on small incomes. We had play groups for the children, and the new mothers were an amazing support. No child, or mother, had to deal with any difficulty alone. The people we met in classes and in the cafeteria on campus became more than passing acquaintances; they became our village. We shared a common experience, and our time together was richer for it. We knew when neighbors were under pressure for jobs, internships, or dissertations, and people would step in to help with children, to house sit plants, to bring over food, or just to sit and talk. On campus, there was a kind of community during the day. At Princeton Windsor, the community lived and interacted 24/7. We all knew the feeling of staying in each other’s apartments, making sure the children were safe, while parents took a break or traveled home for an emergency. Princeton Windsor gave us all a chance to put our love into action. We needed each other and we were there for each other. It was an experience of love in action.
Lynette Danylchuk (M.A., 1971)
San Mateo, California
My wife and I arrived at the Princeton Windsor Apartments late one Friday night in the fall of 1971. We knew no one. I unloaded the twenty-four-foot U-Haul by myself. For hours, I climbed up into the truck, dragged things to the back, climbed down out of the truck bed, and then carried or dragged the item up the sidewalk and then up the stairway to our second-floor apartment. Finally around midnight, I was dragging my last load to the back of the truck. Exhausted from climbing into and out of the truck over and over, I saw something. There, unseen by me, was a nice pull out ramp that could have made the furniture unloading considerably easier. Fortunately, that was not an omen of things to come. We made many wonderful friends, and loved living there.
Jim Garlow (Th.M., 1972)
San Diego, California
My wife, Genie, and I lived in the old Princeton Windsor Apartments from 1974 to 1977 and had a one-month-old child when we moved in. Walking the block with the stroller was a daily, joyful routine, a great chance to meet other students, and, in the summer, to buy Kool-Aid from various children’s stands. The pool was right across the street, so we swam and sunned each summer while endlessly flipping through, first, Greek and, then, Hebrew vocabulary flash cards. Some of the best memories are of walking through the woods along the canal, running for miles on the golf course, and working our little patch of garden vegetables.
Paul Watermulder (M.Div., 1977)