Posted in The Trials of Doris

The Comprehensive & Honest Duke Family & Estate Timeline

After a lovely visit to Duke Farms today I thought I would check their “Detailed Timeline” for a comprehensive record of all of their activities on the estate in the last decade.

You can check their timeline out at

The ‘Detailed Timeline’ neglects to discuss anything about the 1909 conservatory since its retirement from the name, “Garden of Nations” following its closure and subsequent rot in 2008. It is also inaccurate to call the greenhouses 1917, because they were only modified in 1917 and again in 1958. They were erected under J. B. Duke’s direction in 1909.

The Hollywood wing was overseen by Nanaline, actually, not Doris- who was far less interested than her mother and husband in adding to the estate mansion

1947- Doris Duke Marries Porfirio Rubirosa(I found this info on WIKIPEDIA, first thing that comes up when you search Ms. Duke’s name, it took about 20 seconds of total research to find out this basic fact).

Photo from in 2013

2008- The Garden on Nations is dismantled, and the historic greenhouse is abandoned. Earliest allegations of open windows at the Duke Manor come to our attention.

July 30 2015- Duke Farms seeks permit to have the home of their founder demolished. Citizens group DORIS fights for the preservation of the historic home as the foundations founded by Doris Duke continue fighting for permission to demolish it. Emily Cooperman and Michael Catania present testimony without evidence of a written record of the claimed “mothballing” as well as no documented proof of a claimed “decade of research for adaptive reuses”. The meeting runs late because the line of people opposed to the demolition of the home of Doris Duke is around the wall to the door.

September 24th 2015 – Professional testimony was provided by members of DORIS accompanied with point by point elaboration as to how testimony applies to legal statutes which are supposed to guide the reasoning by which all preservation commission members ought to use. Public comments were limited to 3 minutes per person. Ed Henry speaks publicly regarding the opposition to their permit to demolish, stating that he is moved by peoples concerns about the preservation of the residence, but that the interest to demolish is also held by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

October 15 2015 – Hillsborough ‘s historic preservation commission votes 6-1 in favour of demolition despite very clear public opposition.

March 4th 2016- Demolition of Doris Duke’s home begins after nearly a year of legal resistance by a citizens group.

March 6th 2016- A Court Mandated Cease Work Order was Issued to prevent further demolition of the Historic Home of Doris Duke.

April of 2016- The historic home of Doris Duke is demolished by The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation & Duke Farms.

Posted in The Trials of Doris

The Trials of Doris, Part II


In this much-anticipated installment of the Doris Trials, we will explore the two organized initiatives that have been created in response to the proposed demolition of the beloved Country Manor. The DORIS group opposes the destruction, and the DCC will represent the community in the long-term.

DORIS, a clever acronym for ‘demolition of residence is senseless’, has been established as a community-oriented effort to foster understanding for the reasons why the manor’s demolition is suggested, as well as discovering possible counterarguments for these ideas. The group reportedly met and distributed ideas and assignments to execute in preparation for the road ahead. One thing that was released by a┬ámember is that “telling your grandchildren a story will impact them. Showing them something will inspire them”. Another concerned advocate stated it clearly and simply, “demolition is forever”. These are things that should definitely be considered in the overall process.

The second, quieter group, DCC, an abbreviation for Duke Community Collaborative, is lying in wait of its first event. Once the decision is reached, this group will handle the community’s interest in the grounds and their history. Some of their work will be done with the help of residents of localities such as Somerville, Raritan, and Hillsborough, while other topics will be handled between the committee, their volunteers, and with the anticipated cooperation of the property management team as well.

Both groups seek to create a vision of the Farms that suits the high standard of environmental stewardship already present, but incorporating the input from locals and historic notes supported by archival information. All individuals and parties involved with the Duke Estate hope to reflect her interests and provide assistance in producing a park experience to be continually representative of the Duke Family as fully as possible.

Posted in The Trials of Doris

The Trials of Doris, Part I


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.