Yesterday evening, before the sun went down we went on a drive to the Myers Park part of Charlotte. Nestled behind -gargantuan- trees on Hamilton Place, is the magnificent Duke Mansion.
The Duke mansion was built in 1915 by Zebulon V. Taylor, President of Southern Public Utilities (now Duke Power Company). Below, is the original entrance facing Ardsley Road, currently the east wing.
To the south of the mansion is a gravel courtyard, with a seating arrangement on either side, that's where we started meandering around the grounds.
As you climb up the steps you can see the south side of the mansion and it's grounds. In 1919 James B. Duke, founder of The American Tobacco Company and Duke Power Company bought the home. He tripled it's size to 32,000 square feet. Luckily, they had housekeepers!
In 1925 James B. Duke passed away leaving the legacy of Duke University, the Duke Power Company and The Duke Endowment. The home was purchased by C.C Coddington the owner of the local Buick dealership and radio station.
Sadly, three years later in 1929 he passed away. The next owner was Martin Cannon who re-named the home White Oaks. He was founder of Cannon Mills and after twenty years of living in the home with his wife Cherry he passed away bequeathing the home to Meyers Park Presbyterian Church.
Nine short years later, in 1957 the church sold the home to Henry and Clayton Lineberger, a textile family. During their time in the home they restored the home and grounds, and unfortunately had a horrific fire in 1966, which almost destroyed the home. How tragic would that have been?
This is the north entrance today, overlooking the fountain.
The west entrance is undergoing re-landscaping, which will hopefully be finished next year for the 100 year anniversary.
Ten years after the fire, after nineteen years in the home Henry Lineberger passed away and gifted the home to the The Duke Endowment. At first it was a conference center, and a year later it was placed on the national register of historic places. The same year developer William Allan converted the home into condominiums.
In 1988, there was a possible deal to build single family homes on the property, but the developers efforts failed. A year later owners of Raycom Sports, Rick and Dee Ray considered buying a condominium, but instead bought out the property to preserve and restore the mansion. In 1996 they sold the home to The Lee Institute, a non-profit leading an effort to permanently protect the home.
The Lee Institute brought the story full circle because Bill Lee's granddaddy was an engineer who had worked with James B. Duke. In 1998 the mansion opened as a Historic Inn and is still in operation. Nowadays you can celebrate your wedding, have a baby shower, or stay in one of the Inn's suites or you could take an early evening to self tour the home, and be in awe of it's history and splendor!