Duke Farms

Hillsborough, Somerset County, New Jersey

The center is 700 acres, and around that, another 2,000 acres along the Raritan River.


The original estate was developed by James Buchanan Duke (1856-1925) as a country retreat. He designed it to resemble a prosperous North Carolina piedmont farm. His landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead's firm, was the firm that created Central Park.

Duke wanted to share the estate's beauty with his neighbors, and he opened it to the public for picnics and weekend strolls.

1902  -- constructed the hay barn.

The low point in Duke's life was his scandalous affair, marriage and divorce from Lillian McRedy. 

1907  --  Duke married Nanaline Holt Inman.

1912  --  Duke had one child with Nanaline Holt named Doris Duke.

1911 --  by the order of the Supreme Court, the Duke conglomerate that controlled 150 cigarette factories with a capitalization of $502 million was dissolved.

1919  --  Duke closed the property to the public because they were not considerate of it.

1925  --  Duke dies and leaves money to improve Trinity College (that was then named Duke University).

New Jersey was home to the late Doris Duke, heir to the great fortune accumulated by her father. (The Duke family also had homes in Rhode Island and Hawaii.)

1958  --  Doris Duke began a six-year process of transforming the greenhouses into elaborate display gardens.

1964  --  the display gardens opened to the public.

1993 --  Doris Duke dies in Beverly Hills.

1999 (December)  --  the Duke Foundation announced grants totaling $14 million to organizations protecting open land and encouraging "smart growth" in New Jersey (receiving $8.4 million) and Rhode Island. The foundation called this initiative the Land Conservation Initiative (LCI)..


lowlands, wetlands, farm fields and woods



This summer, for the first time since Duke closed it, the estate will be open to the public for limited tours.

The public will see the original 700-acre bull's eye of the property: the hay barn, the mansion, waterfalls, lakes, fountains, bridges, meadows and woodlands created by Olmstead's firm. The tours will run Wednesday through Sunday from June 4 to November 15. The display gardens, which reflect the cultures and climates of a dozen different regions around the world, are not open during the summer.

(Source: Ken Branson, Spreading the Wealth in the Highlands, http://www.njskylands.com/cldodgeduke.htm)

(Unveiling Doris Duke's Secret Garden; http://www.princetoninfo.com/200308/30827p03.html)