Garden Statesmen History
Learn about the storied history of the Garden Statesmen,
the Princeton Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society (formerly SPEBSQSA)
In honor of our founding members and all Garden Statesmen we post our founding charter petition.
The Princeton Chapter's first quartet, featuring Tony Vanella, Ed Ward, Bill Lamb, and John Yates (circa 1970)
The 1973 Princeton Garden Statesmen chorus photo taken on the Boardwalk in Asbury Park, following the annual competition.
PGS on stage for the 7th Annual Show in 1976.
PGS and "The Sussex Counts" in the Finale of the 1977 Annual Show "Band Stand"
Scene from the 1983 Annual Show "Return to Tin Pan Alley," featuring Bill Lamb, John Yates, Jim Dishner, and Tony Vanella
1986 Annual Show "Those Good Old Days"
At the barbershop in 1986, The Princetones, feauring Gil Kayser Dick Sudlow, Joe Lazar, and Tony Vanella who performed over 150 times in 10 years
The cast of the 1987 Annual Show in Full Uniform, 1987
How the Princeton Chapter
Early in the fall of 1967, a friend of Ed Ward, and a fellow member of the Lake Charles, Louisiana Chapter of SPEBSQSA (the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Babershop Sinfging in America) and was visiting his son in the Princeton Hospital. Sharing the hospital room was a chap by the name of Dev Munn, former member of the Binghamton, N. Y. Chapter.
A conversation ensued in which barbershop singing came up for discussion. Ed Ward's friend, knowing of Ed's recent arrival in Princeton and his enthusiasm for barbershopping, suggested that Dev ought to give him a call. The phone call was made and after several further conversations, it was agreed that Princeton should have a chapter of SSPEBSQSA, and that they would try to organize one.A telephone campaign brought eight or ten guys out to the Columbian Carbon Research Laboratory for that first meeting. Several more sessions at irregular intervals and in different locations were held to build interest in barbershopping in the area.
Then, in the spring of 1968, six of them met with John Anderson, District Vice President of SPEBSQSA, at Dev Munn's home and signed a license application.
The Princeton Chapter was officially under way. We were chartered in 1969. Dev Munn was our first President and Ed Ward our Chorus Director. Our first Harmony Show was presented in May of 1970.
Where Did the Name "Garden Statesmen" Come From?
Did you know we weren't always called The Garden Statesmen, and we were almost called the Princetonaires?
From the beginning, in 1969, we were called the Princeton Chapter of SPEBSQSA. Then, this notice appeared in the August 1973 Tigertown Tags:
NAME THE CHORUS CONTEST
The contest to select a name for the chorus of the Princeton Chapter begins with this announcement, so get with it guys The winning name will be emblazoned on special traveling jackets, similar to the "beer suits" worn by Princeton University students, and a prize which will be appreciated by any barbershopper will be awarded to the member submitting the winning name. Start scratching your heads, fellows, and turn in your suggestions to Ed Dormer or Bill Fassbender any Tuesday between now and September 18th.
The September 1973
Tigertown Tags Reported ...
As of September 19, a dozen members have submitted entries in the contest to name the chorus. At the Board meeting on that date it was decided to extend the deadline for the submission of entries to October 1. The selection of the winning name will be by a unique poll of the members that will be conducted at the meetings on October 9th and 16th. REMEMBER THAT THESE MEETINGS WILL BE HELD IN THE METHODIST CHURCH AT PRINCETON. The member submitting the winning name will be awarded a SPEBSQSA pitch pipe, but he must be present both nights in order to vote and to win the prize. So get busy and come up with your ideas, unless you've submitted them already.
At the meeting to decide the name on October 9, 1973, there were 32 members, with twenty members voting. And here were the results, as reported by Hugh Devine:
Garden Statesmen - 28 Points
Princetonaires - 27 Points
Garden Staters - 22 Points
Princeton, N.J. Chorus - 20 Points
Tigertown Chorus -18 Points
The winner of the contest - Hugh Devine, who still claims to have the pitch pipe prize. And now you know.... the rest of the story.