History and Context

Historical Note

The Washington Duke family's long-standing interest in and support of Durham's Trinity College reached a high point in1924 when James B. Duke (1856-1925) established The Duke Endowment. One goal of this charitable trust was the creation of a research university around the core of Trinity College. Trinity's President William Preston Few persuaded Mr. Duke to allow the new university to be in honor of Washington Duke and his family. Trustees andadministrators of the College and The Duke Endowment developed the University in accordance with Mr. Duke's wishes following a plan for the organization of the university that had been devised by President Few. Beginning in 1925, lands were acquired and cleared, buildings designed and erected, and supplies and equipment purchased, all while classes continued in session. Major construction came to an end in 1932 with the completion of the Duke Chapel. The cost of the building project totaled $21,254,833.69.

Chronology List


March-April: President Few and Professor Brown visit other campuses in the Eastern states to gather ideas and advice about architecture and campus planning.

December: The Board of Trustees of Trinity College accepts the provisions of The Duke Endowment. The state grants a charter to DukeUniversity, and Trinity College becomes the University's undergraduate college.


August: start of construction on the East Campus.


April: start of construction on the West Campus

September: completion of major construction on the East Campus.


September: completion of most construction on the West Campus; East Campus becomes the Woman's College; West Campus becomes the home of Trinity College for men and the graduate and professional schools.


June: completion and the first use of DukeChapel marks the end of construction.

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