Posted in The Trials of Doris

The Trials of Doris, Part IV

As of this lovely beginning to September welcomes falling leaves and a medley of new activities, it also welcomes a month of excitement and anticipation at Duke Farms and the DCC/DORIS initiatives. The public hearing to save the manor is coming up on the 24th, and the DCC Picnic is its antecedent on the 20th, and surely more activities and events are sure to follow. In this segment of the Trials of Doris, I’ve been accepting informational material about the Dukes’ philanthropic works over the years. I will also be releasing the results of last night’s DORIS meeting and the exciting long-term goals of the DCC and what you can do to become more involved. Also, as a bonus, we will be exploring Raritan’s latest announcements for JB’s pump house and original electric company building.

Courtesy of one of the members of the initiative and interest group, I received the following information regarding the chronology of the giving, generous spirit that the Dukes embodied so well! According to the May 17, 1944 article from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Miss Duke was cited for her volunteer work in Manhattan at a rest center for merchant seamen, operated under the USS. In The Warren County Observer, on June 22, 1961, Doris is noted for her generous contribution of $150,000 each to Soviet studies at both the University of Illinois and Duke University (NC). The reason for her contributions here was to promote education of Russia in a time of cold war attitudes between the first and second worlds. Her intentions were extremely positive. Again in 1969, we collected another newsprint describing Doris’ interest and activity in colonial restoration with Jackie Kennedy Onassis in Newport, Rhode Island. It established that “Income from private homes owned and leased by the foundation will help finance more restored homes and museums” (Greeley Daily Tribune, 9/23/69). It makes us all reflect for a moment and think about the future implements of her fiscal planning and adaptive reuse of antique structures.

What I find most valuable to the cause are two articles in particular. The Portsmouth Daily Times published in 1936, an article that allowed Doris to tell the world that she prefers her Somerville estate to anywhere else in the world. As the article explains, “She may roam the Earth, as she did after her marriage, tasting the fruit of wealth from foreign hands, but she always comes back to Somerville”. In addition, I cherish the words of Imelda Marcos in a 1993 article, “Doris Duke epitomized the word friendship”. This particular entry also touches base on her 3 million dollar donations to AIDS research and how renowned she was, and will be remembered as, for her philanthropic work. In this likeness, we hope to construct a future of the Duke legacy.

The September 3rd meeting for DORIS went excellently as well. Members have prepared diligently for the hearing on the 24th, and are prepared for a comfortable turnout at the picnic on the 20th. One point of interest of this last Thursday evening was the interest people have in sharing their stories of the farms and what experiences are unique to that property. When asked, the members encouraged all interested persons to attend the DCC picnic (described below), and to express their love of the grounds and their support of the mansion to media (letters to editors, calling news stations). EVERYONE IS ASKED TO SIGN THE PETITION AND SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE!

The DCC, which is responsible for carrying out long-term collaborative interests with the farms has also become more active this month with their first hosted event, the DCC Picnic, slated for the afternoon of September 20th. All are encouraged to attend with their own lunch, blankets, and chairs as they choose. The Mermaid Pool, located south of the Great Falls on the property, will be their venue space. Any questions or for further details, please contact me at any time. Some other things to look forward to from the Duke Community Collaborative include charity events for the entire public which will send all proceeds to charities that conform to Doris’ same philanthropic interests. If you or someone you know has a request for our events, please send them in! Other ways to get involved include attending the picnic, networking with our key players from the DORIS and DCC groups, learning more about the estate, and sharing ideas.

Finally, in the last few weeks, the mayor of Raritan and her planning board released a publication for the adaptive reuse of the pump house and energy company belonging to JB Duke back in his heyday. The two structures in question are available in this article from Raritan. This hopeful development will encourage the concept of adaptive reuse with homage to the local history that floods this and surrounding areas. Much like the interest of the groups that formed in reaction to the Manor’s hearing, many people are favoring the suggestions for Raritan’s structures because they beautifully marry the public interests in preserving and reusing historic structures and hosting environmental recreations as a focus.

With this, I leave you to ponder, readers. The next several articles will give some insight into the life that the Dukes led, which was largely based out of their beautiful New Jersey estate. Our next large segment will come in several weeks in the wake of the picnic. Thank you as always, and stay curious!



For over 8 amazing years, it has been an experience, a pleasure, and a journey to be a revivalist. I love all things retro and antique. Writing has been a passion of mine since middle school and throughout my professional career. For all those who are inspired to be vintage, challenge the norms in the name of tradition! We write for a better, more inspired tomorrow <3

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