Documenting the American South

Doc South header logo Home
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes banner
  • Monument Name

    Benjamin Newton Duke, Duke University, Durham

  • Type

    Statue

  • Subjects

    Historic Philanthropic Figures

    Historic Civic Figures

    Educational Institutions

  • Creator

    Stephen H. Smith, Sculptor

  • City

    Durham

  • County

    Durham

  • Description

    A bronze likeness of Benjamin Newton Duke stands upright as he rests his weight on a cane in his right hand. He is clad in a suit and holds his hat by his knee. The statue rests on a low square granite pedestal.

  • Inscription

    Front: BENJAMIN NEWTON DUKE / 1855 - 1929
    Image

    Back: Trustee / Trinity College / 1889 - 1924 / Duke University / 1924 - 1929
    Image

    Right: Industrialist
    Image

    Left: Benefector
    Image

  • Custodian

    Duke University

  • Dedication Date

    October 2, 1999

  • Decade

    1990s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    36.008440 , -78.914670 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Decorating Benjamin Duke," TIP Wiki, (accessed June 26, 2012) Link

      "The Duke Family and Duke University," Duke University Archives, (accessed June 26, 2012) Link

      King, William E. Unveiling Benjamin Newton Duke Memorial Statue: An Album of a Family and a University, (Durham, NC: Duke University, 1999), (accessed May 15, 2012) Link

  • Public Site

    Unknown

  • Materials & Techniques

    Bronze, granite

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    The statue was dedicated on October 2nd during a Duke family reunion. This was also the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the Duke Endowment and of the Duke University name. William E. King, University Archivist, provided an unveiling speech discussing the life of Benjamin Duke.

  • Nickname

    Ben

  • Subject Notes

    Benjamin Duke (1855-1929) was vice-president of the American Tobacco Company, head of his family's textile business, and co-founder of the Southern Power Company (today Duke Power). He was a key player in the relocation of Trinity College to Durham in 1892 and later donated substantial sums to be used for additions and improvements to the school.

  • Landscape

    The statue was placed on East Campus, the original site of Trinity college. It sits in the main quad facing away from Baldwin auditorium.

  • Post Dedication Use

    During Duke Universities's Quadfest, students regularly decorate the statue. The statue has worn a ninja mask, a pink bikini, an orange traffic cone, and a number of togas. The decoration of the Benjamin Duke statue was prohibited in 2005, with officials claiming it to be vandalism; however, students continue to dress the sculpture.

Know anything else about this monument that isn't mentioned here? If you have additional information on this or any other monument in our collection fill out the form at the Contact Us link in the footer. Thank you.