Gift Planning

Adams Family Leaves Lasting Legacy from Gifts Planned Years Ago

September 9, 2010

In 1953 Hugh L. Adams set up a trust for his son, Hugh Trumbull Adams ’35, that included a bequest to his son’s alma mater. When Adams ’35 died in October 2009 and the bequest was realized, Princeton received a 40 percent income interest in a $40 million perpetual trust.

Though the gift was planned so long ago, it provides funding for areas that are still central to the mission of the University—scholarships, the library, the faculty, and the Princeton University Art Museum. The bequest will create a lasting legacy of the Adams family, establishing funds to be named for the creator of the trust; his wife, Mary Trumbull Adams; and their son.

Through his mother, Adams ’35 was the descendant of a prominent New England family that included three generations of Connecticut governors, as well as revolutionary war painter John Trumbull, whose 1831 gift to Yale University was the first recorded gift annuity in America.

Adams majored in economics at Princeton, and after graduation he was a stockbroker in Philadelphia until 1941, when he joined the Navy and served until 1945. Then he settled in New York City, where he made a name for himself as a humanitarian and philanthropist, providing generous support for medical research, health care, art, and religious and cultural institutions throughout his life.

Princeton was always an important part of his life and his philanthropy. He was a loyal supporter of Annual Giving for more than 50 consecutive years, and made many other gifts to the University, including a number of campus landmarks. Perhaps the most beloved of these is Adams Mall, with its life-size bronze tigers flanking the stairs between Whig and Clio halls. Adams also contributed to the Carillon Restoration Project at the Graduate College and the south clerestory window in the Chapel, and he gave many gifts-in-kind, including works of art and rare books. His gifts of antique furniture, paintings, and rugs grace Prospect, MacLean House, and Lowrie House.

In addition to the bequest that came through his father’s trust, Adams made a bequest of his own to Princeton, which will provide the University with between $10 and $12 million. These funds will be used to create a professorship in memory of his parents, support the library and the art museum, and help beautify the campus.