In this written review of Duke’s Estate, we were able to reconvene after much ado thanks to the global pandemic from covid-19, coronavirus. Our spurt with wandering across the property was a refreshing shift back into our regularly scheduled passion for history and preservation. The challenges of covid-19 cannot be understated, but the recent ability for new jerseyans to return to somewhat normal levels of function was exactly what the doctor ordered for us. As usual, the overall estate brought us several pleasant surprises and a few notions that suggest they still have a long way to go toward recovering from their poor decision to demolish Duke’s mansion. This is not to be confused with resignation because there are some telltale signs across the property that give us great hope. We noticed a few exceptional changes on the property- such as nearly algae-free lakes and streams (major difference from previous years), repairs in mortar along the iconic stone wall, a few broken streetlamps at the conservatory’s front esplanade, the still-missing DD insignia affixed above it’s doors, removal of fencing around the statue of Athena, and a recently cleared half acre or so facing south from the bridge at great falls that facilitates a view of the lake and fox hollow trail below. There’s so much changing in the world, so it is our hope that things change to support a fuller illustration for the multifaceted legacy that the Dukes left behind. We see it being made more and more possible here, and we will continue to offer what insights we can in these history-making times.
Some great strides and some little reparations yet to be made makes for a mixed review of the property from us at RRBlog. It continues to be one of our favorite places to kick back, picnic, and find peace at the intersection of past, present, and future. Perhaps the most incredible change however comes in the form of a person. This new face has finally fixed the vacancy in the executive directors position as of yesterday. we are so hopeful to have a new team member spearheading the efforts at Duke farms to honor the legacy or Doris in a way that shows her love and dedication for all things of the organic world- both flora and fauna- that meshes gracefully with her homage to her roots, and to her father’s extraordinary attention to detail in tending their opulent acres.
We look forward to observing the progress that this extraordinarily historic, unique, and highly potent model for stewardship and preservation makes as it enters a new era of management. Congratulations to the staff for their selection of a new director!