John F. Kennedy spent about four months in New Jersey in the fall of 1935 as a freshman at Princeton. Although an illness forced the future president to leave Princeton in December, can we imagine that on at least one weekend that fall he and his buddies took a drive out to the country? Maybe even to the Sourland Mountain?
|JFK as a Princeton Freshman, 1935|
Thirty years later - about a year after Kennedy's assassination - the International Student Research and Development Council Inc. (ISRDC) began making plans to bring the spirit of JFK to Hillsborough. John F. Kennedy International Village would have been a massive cultural exchange center for young people from around the world covering a minimum of 45 acres on Montgomery-Zion Road.
|What the JFK Village would have looked like|
"an administration and information center, a chapel for all faiths, a theater and museum, three classroom buildings, a food service building, a gymnasium, an athletic field, a guest house, eight male housing units, five female housing units, five parking lots, a heliport, practice fields and a summer campground."
The initial 45-acres was gifted to the ISRDC for Christmas of 1963 by C. Benjamin Curley. Curley and his wife Alma had owned a summer home in the Sourlands since the 1930s and had even run a summer camp for black children called Rainbow's End. You can read more about the Curley's and the camp here. Over the years the Curleys added to their property and were actively involved in attempting to acquire adjacent properties for the proposed center even after their donation.
|C. Benjamin Curley as a student at Howard University in 1910|
|13 October 1965 Courier News|
|Robert and Ted Kennedy in 1965|
"I don't personally have, and as far as I know, no other member of my family has any knowledge of this organization. Our approval or sanction was neither given nor ever requested."