Decision to Restore

The fate of the Trenton Bath House reflects a change in sensibility within the historic-preservation movement. Instead of decrying post–World War II suburbs as most architects and planners had been doing for decades, some preservationists began to see in postwar modernism a historical development worthy of attention. The Bath House and the Day Camp were included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, due largely to the effort of architectural historian Susan Solomon.

By then it had been evident for some time that Jews were leaving the Ewing Township area. The Trenton Jewish Community Center was offering programs at offsite locations, and it adopted a new name, the Jewish Community Center of the Delaware Valley, to reflect this changing demographic.

As usage of the Ewing facility declined, the pace of its physical deterioration accelerated. (The structures had actually begun to deteriorate shortly after they opened because they did not stand up well to the damaging effects of rain and snow.) The Day Camp deteriorated to the point where two of the pavilions became a safety problem, so in 1996 the Jewish Community Center proposed to demolish them. Alarmed by the potential loss of structures important in the career of one of the twentieth century’s great architects, historic preservationists and friends of modern architecture struggled to raise public awareness about the architectural value of the site. Supported by public funds, the Jewish Community Center investigated means of preserving the Bath House. But in 2005 it announced plans to sell the Ewing property and build a new facility in West Windsor, roughly ten miles away. In 2007, under the leadership of County Executive Brian Hughes, Mercer County purchased most of the property with funds from its Open Space Preservation Trust. It then transferred ownership of the property to Ewing Township, with conservation and historic preservation easements, protecting the property from development and maintaining the historic integrity of the structures. Today, the site, now known as the Ewing Senior and Community Center, provides programs similar to those of the former Jewish Community Center.