The History of The Duke Mansion & Duke Endowment

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James "Buck" Duke, 1856-1925
James “Buck” Duke,
1856-1925

Construction of the home in the first quarter of the twentieth century directly reflected the burgeoning industrial and commercial development in North Carolina during those years and especially in Charlotte which took a leading role in the state. Houses built at this time followed the architectural fashions of the nation with the Colonial Revival exerting a strong primary influence. The two story porticos identified with Southern plantation seats and quickly became a part of the vocabulary of the  Colonial Revival style.

In March 1919 James Buchanan Duke, tobacco magnate, industrialist, and philanthropist purchased the lot in the prestigious Charlotte suburb of Myers Park and went to work enlarging the house, giving it its distinctive “H”-shape.

In total, the mansion had 45 rooms and 12 baths.  Duke named the estate Lynnewood, and it became the only home he owned in North Carolina during the years of his greatest power.

In 1924 Duke created a trust fund, subsequently known as the Duke Endowment, composed
principally of his holdings in the Southern Power Company. The endowment consisted of
$40 million, and it provided funds to establish Duke University at what had formerly been Trinity College in Durham and aid to several other North Carolina colleges. It also provided for aid to hospitals in the two Carolinas (which by 1970 had amounted to $55,669,181 for North Carolina hospitals) as well as the relief of Methodist churches and ministers and the care of orphans.

The market value of the Endowment’s assets has grown to approximately $3.4 billion. From 1924-2013, the Endowment has awarded over $3.2 billion in grants