Duke Farms

History

Duke Farms, a 2,700-acre estate in Hillsborough, New Jersey, was developed by tobacco and hydropower magnate James Buchanan Duke beginning in 1893.

By the time he died in 1925, J.B. Duke had transformed more than 2,000 acres of farmland and woodlots into an extraordinary landscape. He excavated 9 lakes, constructed some 45 buildings, and built nearly 2 ½ miles of stone walls and more than 18 miles of roadway. He also installed approximately 35 fountains and populated his park with countless pieces of sculpture.

Duke engaged in at least three known building campaigns, employed hundreds of laborers, and utilized the latest technologies in excavation, construction, water filtration and agriculture in pursuit of his vision.

Much of the landscape J.B. Duke created between 1893 and 1925 is still clearly evident at Duke Farms, a testament to his ingenuity, resourcefulness and determination, as well as his bold vision and tremendous resources.

When J.B. Duke died, his daughter Doris was 12 years old. She inherited control of the estate, and continued to enhance the property when she became an adult.

Doris Duke adapted her father’s greenhouses to create noteworthy display gardens that she opened to the public in 1964. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she purchased small 19th century farms along the western boundary of the estate, which represent the rapidly vanishing agricultural landscape that once characterized central New Jersey.

Today, visitors can take four unique tours featuring different aspects of Duke Farms, as well as take part in a number of educational programs and recreational activities. The property is owned and supported by the Duke Farms Foundation, which maintains the estate’s array of natural, horticultural and historic resources.

Did You Know?

There are a total of 9 lakes at Duke Farms, all created and stocked by J.B. Duke.