Douglas Plaza is officially reopened after years of construction around the George Washington Statue in Mill Hill.
Nives Herman is a resident of Mill Hill and lives at Douglas Plaza; she is also the committee chairperson of the Mill Hill Residential Committee. Herman led the charge to get the plaza renovated. “I can’t overemphasize the importance of this plaza…. It symbolizes the fact that this is the center of a community. It is the entrance to the city,” Herman said.
In the plaza sits Trenton’s famous statue of George Washington. According to the Trenton Historical Society, the George Washington Monument was originally in Cadwalader Park. On April 19, 1892, a parade and ceremony were introduced to the Monument to the public.
Herman explained that the Douglas Plaza was then made in 1970. “They use beautiful granite pavers, small ones. And those pavers lasted for 50 years with no maintenance,” Herman said.
The Evening Times the writes on Friday, January 16, 1976, that the statue would move to behind the Douglas House.
“The statue of George Washington in Cadwalader Park soon will have a new home in a $125,000 plaza being built next to the Douglass House on Montgomery Street. City officials plan to pay $12,000 to move Washington to his new pedestal. Plans call for the move to be made in a ceremonial parade similar to the moving of the Philadelphia Liberty Bell,” writes the Evening times.
Herman explained that over the last fifty years, the area had been worn down due to the area’s modern-day vehicles and industrial projects.
“When you introduce modern technology, which included four-ton recycling trucks, plow trucks, garbage trucks, It put a lot of pressure on it, not to mention that after a while, the infrastructure was getting weak.
She continues, “Then other important projects followed that…lead line replacement, where a lot of excavation was done, the PSE&G gas line replacement, a lot of excavation was done. So by that time, there was no way of rescreening and installing the granite pavers, so they decided on a new design supporting heavier traffic; the heavier Belgian block, is repurposing the lovely granite pavers for more of an ornamental look around the statue,” Herman said.
The project has taken over a decade to slice through all of the red tape, but the statue and the plaza are ready to take on the tourist surge with the 250 anniversary of America coming up in 2026.
“This has taken years and years and years, and we’re so thankful for the city and everybody that worked on this,” said Roland Pott, Acting President of the Old Mill Hill Society. “One thing that we believe in here is that when the community comes together and shows that we’re interested in improving the city, that the city listens, and we want to thank the city for standing behind the community and helping us to get a project done that was important to us.”
On Monday, September 19, 2022, there was a small ceremony to open the plaza to residents officially.
“This is really like Christmas,” said Maria Richardson, Director of Department of Recreation, Natural Resources and Culture. “This community has been fighting for this event for so many many years. And we finally got it to this point we are here, proud to reopen this plaza.”
Mayor Reed Gusciora spoke to the crowd.
“This is indicative of what we want to do in the city. We want to make improvements. We want to attract historic tourism…This is the start project of revitalizing all the revolutionary spots in the city…This is a city that prides itself on its history and its community centers. And we hope that this is one of many to come.”