Planned Demolition of Historic Duke Mansion in New Jersey on Hold

Demolition of a historic New Jersey mansion once owned by Doris Duke will be put on hold while a state judge reviews the matter.

The Hillsborough Township Historic Preservation Commission approved the demolition plans in October, and town officials were set to issue a permit this week.

But the community group DORIS, for Demolition of Residence is Senseless, went to court seeking to block the work planned by the Duke Farms Foundation.

An agreement was reached Friday following a conference call that included the judge and representatives from DORIS, the foundation and the town. They agreed no demolition work would be done until a hearing planned for late February.

Foundation officials want to demolish the 67,000-square-foot mansion that's been empty since the tobacco heiress' death in 1993. They say it has fallen into disrepair and would take at least $10 million to bring up to code.

But opponents have called on the foundation to explore several possible "re-adaptive uses" for the mansion that they say would generate income and attention.

Duke's father, James Buchanan Duke, assembled the Tudor-style estate, beginning with a 357-acre farm on a picturesque stretch of the Raritan River. He eventually acquired 40 adjacent farms in the following years, expanding the total acreage of Duke Farms to 2,200 by the early 1900s.

Foundation officials have said they planned to open about 50 acres at Duke Farms to the public if the demolition was approved. That property, which surrounds the home and is now fenced off, includes waterfalls, a lake and a meditation garden.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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