Irony is a manifestation of fate tangled within itself. Are things always coincidental, or is everything fueled by an antecedent and the prospect of a consequence? It’s a psychologically rooted question; one that we find ourselves stuck with often these days when observing the stark contrast of behaviors between historic preservation in the locality of the Duke Estate and its counterparts. Okay, let’s cut the abstract and get nitty gritty.
So on July 16th, all the information has to be submitted to Somerset County by the public regarding the preservation of historic parcels and eras of interest. This gives the members of this county FOUR DAYS from now to have this info submitted.
What’s ironic here is that there is a specific category for the emerging of ‘Great Estates’ like Dukes and Natirar, (1880-1911) which seeks general input. This county was the same one that, in preventative measures in 2015, turned a blind eye to the desperation of the DORIS group in trying to preserve the integrity of the Duke Estate through saving the mansion. In addition, this is the same county whose court rejected the measures taken to appeal the demolition permit granted by Hillsborough Township. But I mean hey, the judge that presided the case is a sibling of someone who works directly for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation so obviously dialogues off the record played a huge role in getting us to this point right?
Now that the estate is missing the house that literally defines the title ‘estate’ at Duke Farms, it seems like Somerset County is either getting wise or getting profoundly remorseful. But hindsight is always 20/20. You can’t bring back what you destroyed. This is how we whitewash history and skew the stories of the past. The timeline is perpetually damaged unless some serious preservation efforts and commemorative methods are prepared ASAP.
Mount Laurel is getting it together!
Unlike the case of the Duke Mansion, Mount Laurel identifies with the same costly concerns, but collected the support of PNJ (Preservation New Jersey) who was able to acquire a temporary halt to the demolition in advance of it beginning- with the stipulation that the township would review and submit a plan for the space. The clock is ticking, no doubt, but the fight is always on against these staples of American culture- which if no one noticed- is lacking serious emphasis. The gentrification between technology and culture is staggering, one that deserves the attention first through using what you’ve already got- including old houses that requiresome degree of remediation.
Ah, life’s little ironies indeed. The story continues for ORCHID and the real legacy of Doris Duke. Get it together, New Jersey!
Do you have input? SEND IT IN: PreservationPlan@co.somerset.nj.us