The American Boychoir School has moved from Princeton to Plainsboro. The move was made official with a ribbon cutting by Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu on Thursday.
The school, located at the Princeton Center for Arts and Education on Mapleton Road, is home to 45 boarding and day students in grades 4-8.
The new property offers not only a gym and performance space- both unavailable at the former Lambert Drive location- but also room to grow up to 120 students, Head of School Lisa Eckstrom said. Currently, the school occupies more than 38,000 square feet of space in three buildings and has plans to expand following additional classroom renovations.
The boys returned from the holiday break Wednesday night and came directly to the new location, which has undergone significant renovation.
“They were thrilled, so excited,” Eckstrom said. “Their dorm rooms are bigger than their old rooms- that’s a huge big deal- and there are fewer bunk beds and more singles. They were sad leaving, but now they are extremely excited.”
The 47-acre PCAE property is the former home of St. Joseph’s Seminary.
The American Boychoir School shares the campus with the French American School of Princeton and the Wilberforce School. The schools operate separately, but Eckstrom said the schools hope to share resources and achieve economies of scale through shared extracurricular activities, for example.
She said the plan is also to rent out additional space at PCAE.
“We think of these (schools) as the three different anchor department stores,” she said. "Now we’re starting to rent the smaller retail spaces to local arts organizations because we want to partner with the boutique arts organizations in Princeton who might not have their own home.
“If you just need two offices and a shared copier, something really small…” she said. “If we’re all in physical proximity, great things will happen.”
At the same time, The American Boychoir School hopes to grow its own enrollment, specifically day school students.
“When you’re looking for musically talented boys in this age range, it’s a small number so I think (this move) will draw from a new pool,” Eckstrom said.
Saying goodbye to Lambert Drive location has been bittersweet, but Eckstrom is pleased that the former campus is under contract to another private school, although she couldn’t yet name the buyer. She said it’s a relief to know that neither the Lambert Drive nor PCAE buildings will be demolished.
“Instead of being condos, this (PCAE) is still a campus with lots of kids running around,” she said. “This place is so gorgeous.”
Gorgeous in no small part to the on-site chapel, complete with stunning stained glass, detailed woodwork and a dedicated performance space for the Boychoir.
“I think that the wood, stained glass and the acoustics are perfect, it is exactly what a boychoir would want,” Eckstrom said.
The American Boychoir School was founded in 1937 in Columbus Ohio as the Columbus Boychoir and has been in Princeton since 1950.
The concert boys’ choir has performed with ensembles including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. The Boychoir has performed with soprano Jessye Norman, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, Beyoncé and Sir Paul McCartney.