Thursday night, the hotly anticipated debate in hopes to save Duke Estate’s beloved main residence, resulted in a blunt postponement until the 15th of October. The DCC Picnic was a lovely little success, and we had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful kindred spirits one at a time to present their interests in the property and shared our fruit tarts! For the future, we expect another charming event for Miss Duke’s birthday in November. In the meantime, so much has occurred in the last 48 hours that the Retro Revival staff has made every effort to publish as much of its contents as possible.
First off, there was much discussion about a preexisting bias that resonated with the chamber, which was only aggravated by the township attorney’s gestures and apparent impatience. The Duke Farms Foundation did not present any further witnesses to plead their case for demolition, keeping their total testimonies to two: the executive director’s and the hired architectural historian’s. The DORIS group came prepared with over 10 prepared scripts and dozens of concerned residents eager to speak their pieces. The attorney representing, Mr. Brook, was able to get through the first 4 of said testimonies, but not without severe cross-examinations from the foundation’s attorney and the scrutiny of the township attorney. Most insulted were the two factual testimonies, including Miss Elisabeth. She was the first fact-witness to be called to testify. When she claimed to work closely with Doris Duke, she was taken as a joke, her comments cited as heresay and the township attorney summarily made a comment boldly expressing that it doesn’t matter what Doris wanted.
The others who prepared speaking points traveled from near and far to attend this meeting, and once again were denied the open floor for comments. Questions directed at the witnesses were permitted.
Most troubling, according to consensus of the Retro Revival writers, lies in the double standard that has been established favoring the foundation’s request to demolish. This suggests bias, which echoes in other components of the latest trial. It seems like, through the cross examination of the foundation’s attorney, there are several contradictions that raise question of the integrity of the foundation’s request. First, no tangible evidence or exhibits were provided from Duke Farms describing any research done on future adaptive reuses. By legal definitions, since the foundation expressed their responses ‘to the best of their knowledge’, this is heresay. The questions that probed this discussion were seeking to find substantiated, publicized evidence of their claims of allegedly producing said research after spending 10 years on the project.
The double standard could be identified and felt by members of the DORIS group immediately. While this community group was prepared with a list of the town ordinance items to cite in their speeches, the foundation’s prior testimonies did not cite all of the ordinance’s items, and there is argument that there is insufficient information to permit demolition. The idea of cherry-picking information out of the probated final will and testament of Doris Duke was also suggested. While the foundation’s comments deciphering the will were permissible by the township, the DORIS group’s same citation, from the same probated will was met with disdain from the foundation with a dismissive, ‘it does not matter’.
The questions remain: How long will this go on? How much more can this community organization be deprived of a due, just, and truly objective trial? When will the local commissions truly reflect the interests of the population? We at the Retro Revival have high hopes and expectations that this will find peace in its standing, and that the concept that DORIS wants to stress the most, partnership, is embraced with open arms by the foundation. How can anyone in good conscience forbid the people to feed into natural curiosity, respect, and love for ages past? We will watch closely for the next chapters of the Trials of Doris. The Duke legacy will never truly end with the great revival of the community that Doris always came home to.