The second weekend of July, the middle of a heat wave, with a heat index of 102, and the news breaks. 4 entire townships realize overnight that they’re all connected by one simple landmark. Doris Duke’s 2,000-and-some acre estate in Central Jersey was carefully placed in Hillsborough township, but in such a way that it borders Somerville, Raritan, and Bridgewater as well. And it is about to be compromised.
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, in conjunction with the Duke Farms Foundation, made the executive decision to apply for permission to demolish Doris’ main residence, her ‘principal domicile’, the Country Manor, located on the northern border of the property, overlooking the Raritan River. But… Why? The answer that is repeated is because no possible future use has been decided upon.
As time lapsed through July, concerned residents of all townships and throughout the state, (and globally!) have pitched their interest and voiced their opinions opposing the demolition. After the hearing, several new points of interest arise. The foundation received several dozen possible future uses for the mansion, but rejected all of them on the spot. Why? Furthermore, why has no citizen’s panel existed for the farms? With the initiatives of DORIS (Demolition of Residence is Senseless) and the DCC (Duke Community Collaborative), the resident interest has risen ten-fold with high hopes and serious determination to change the pace of things at their beloved park at Duke Farms. With the continuance of the hearing slated for the 24th of September, these resident organizations are hoping to gather enough support and manpower to make a serious impact on the outcome of the manor and ultimately, take a stand for community involvement at historic sites such as Duke Farms.
The first trial of Doris went raising oodles of questions. Hopefully from here, the residents can gather answers and come to compromise with the foundations to create a Duke Farms that everyone desperately seeking Doris wants to see. All are encouraged to get involved.