The ACP’s Paul Robeson Center is located in the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood, a neighborhood which was historically African-American. The neighborhood, adjacent to downtown Princeton, is rich in historical significance and over the years has been a vital part of the fabric of our town.
The building at 102 Witherspoon Street is named for Paul Robeson, the world renowned African-American singer, actor, and human rights activist, who was born in the house across the street. The building was, for many years prior to desegregation, home to the all-Black Witherspoon YMCA. It also served for a time as a community center for the W-J Neighborhood, which remained primarily African-American through the 1970s.
In 1982, the ACP acquired the building from the Borough of Princeton to use as an arts center. At that time, the ACP and the Borough agreed that the ACP would provide free, low cost, accessible programs to the residents of the W-J Neighborhood in exchange for a reduced sales price. Over the years, the ACP has continued to provide a wide range of programs and scholarships to residents of the W-J Neighborhood and annually, the ACP provides a report (see links below) to the town leadership about our activities benefitting the W-J Neighborhood.
In recent years, the ACP has also included information about the broader programs and impact of ACP activities to keep civic leaders and the public fully informed. To honor the African-American history of the W-J Neighborhood, the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts features the permanent Neighborhood Portrait exhibition, which includes photographs of important people and places that have made this neighborhood a vibrant part of Princeton’s cultural life.