Benjamin Newton Duke, Duke University, Durham
Stephen H. Smith, Marshville, NC, Sculptor
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.
October 2, 1999
36.008440 , -78.914670 View in Geobrowse
"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
“Stephen H. Smith, Sculptor,” StephenSmith.com, (accessed December 1, 2016) Link
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.
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.
The sculptor Stephen H. Smith, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, also created First Flight Centennial Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, 65th General Hospital Memorial at Duke Hospital in Durham, Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in Fayetteville and the James K. Polk statue in the rotunda of the Morehead Planetarium on the University of North Carolina campus.
The statue was placed on East Campus, the original site of Trinity college. It sits in the main quad facing away from Baldwin auditorium.
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.