Documenting the American South

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

    Benjamin Newton Duke, Duke University, Durham

  • Type


  • Subjects

    Historic Philanthropic Figures

    Historic Civic Figures

    Educational Institutions

  • Creator

    Stephen H. Smith, Marshville, NC, Sculptor

  • City


  • County


  • 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

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

    Right: Industrialist

    Left: Benefector

  • Custodian

    Duke University

  • Dedication Date

    October 2, 1999

  • Decade


  • Geographic Coordinates

    36.008440 , -78.914670 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Decorating Benjamin Duke," TIP Wiki, (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,”, (accessed December 1, 2016) Link

  • Public Site


  • 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


  • 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.

    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.

  • 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.

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