Documenting the American South

Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    James B. Duke Statue (replica), Charlotte

  • Type


  • Subjects

    Historic Educational Figures

    Historic Philanthropic Figures

  • Creator

    Charles Keck, Sculptor

    Carolina Bronze Sculpture, Seagrove, NC, casting, Builder

  • City


  • County


  • Description

    This statue is a replica of the James B. Duke statue that stands in front of the Duke Chapel on the West Campus of Duke University. The larger than life figure stands atop an octagon pedestal of polished dark granite shorter than that of the original. The sculptor, Charles Keck, created a pensive pose of Duke holding a walking stick in his right hand and the ever-present cigar in his left hand. He is dressed in a three-piece business suit typical of the 1920’s.

  • Inscription

    Front: JAMES / BUCHANAN / DUKE / DECEMBER 23, 1856- / OCTOBER 10, 1925




    On statue, left leg: CHARLES KECK SC. 1935

  • Custodian

    The Duke Endowment

  • Dedication Date

    Circa August 2014

  • Decade


  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.214100 , -80.845650 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Durden, Robert F., 1986. “Duke, James Buchanan,”, (accessed July 8, 2023) Link

      Durden, Robert F., 2006. “Duke Endowment,”, (accessed July 26, 2023) Link

      Purvis, Kathleen. “The Duke Endowment Heads to Morehead Street,” The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), August 27, 2014

      Roth, Bryan. “Crews Work to Duplicate James B. Duke Statue,” Duke Today, March 24, 2014,, (accessed July 19, 2023) Link

      “James B. Duke-Statue," The Duke Endowment,, (accessed July 19, 2023) Link

  • Public Site


  • Materials & Techniques

    Carolina Bronze Statue created the bronze replica using a wax-filled rubber molding of the original statue. The base is of black granite.

  • Subject Notes

    James B. Duke, born in 1856, the son of tobacco giant and philanthropist Washington Duke greatly expanded upon his fathers’ success. His gamble to introduce machine-rolled versus hand-rolled cigarettes and use of extensive advertising campaigns led to rapid expansion of the W. Duke, Sons and Company. Duke then helped form a combination of large cigarette manufactures into the American Tobacco Company in 1890, becoming president at the age of 33. In the following years the company gained control of most tobacco products in the country except cigars which led the federal government to launch antitrust actions in 1907. A Supreme Court decision in 1911 ultimately led to the company’s breakup.

    Prior to the breakup of American Tobacco James and his brother Benjamin with partner George Watts had launched the Southern Power Company (now Duke Energy Company) with headquarters in Charlotte. They poured their resources into the hydroelectric industry that played a key role in the industrialization of the Piedmont region of North Carolina and South Carolina in the early parts of the 20th century. With the dissolution of the American Tobacco Company, James ended his involvement with the tobacco industry, acquired a second home in Charlotte, and turned his interest towards the Southern Power Company and philanthropic causes.

    The Duke brothers, being lifelong Methodists, practiced the kind of financial stewardship encouraged by the church. Their philanthropic efforts were led by Benjamin until 1915 when declining health led to James becoming more involved. James then became more directly engaged with support for Trinity College in Durham and other Methodist Church causes. In 1924 he established the Duke Endowment with a donation of $40,000,000 for philanthropic purposes in North Carolina and South Carolina. It was specified that nearly a third of the annual income was to support Trinity College. The donation was intended to rebuild East Campus and build a new complex on West Campus. After this generous donation, the school changed its name to Duke University.

  • Location

    The Duke Endowment is located at 800 E. Morehead Street, Charlotte, NC. The statue stands in the Endowment’s courtyard.

  • Landscape

    The statue stands on the grass, in a beautifully landscaped courtyard.

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