BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Hillsborough author Rikki Lynn Hauss will share the legacy of socialite and philanthropist Doris Duke and the  controversey surrounding the demolition of the heiress' mansion in Hillsborough on Sunday, May 5th at the historic Van Veghten House, 9 Van Veghten Way, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The Somerset County Historical Society will host the event, the third in its 2019 series of History Talks at the society’s headquarters.

Hauss fell in love with the Duke Estate as a teenager, but didn’t discover the extraordinary woman who owned it until a few years later as an active member of the grassroots organization DORIS - Destruction of Residence is Senseless - whose members were on the front-lines in the effort to save Duke’s historic mansion alongside the Raritan River from the bulldozer in 2015-16.

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Following the group's unsuccessful effort, Hauss captured the dramatic story and the memoirs of those who knew Duke in a self-published book, "The Duchess of South Somerville."

In a first for the Historical Society, this program is also the official book release of the revised second edition of Hauss' book.

“It is exactly what Doris would have wanted,” Hauss explains, “She would’ve relished the opportunity to share the re-release with her immediate community.”

The author will be welcoming questions from the audience during her seminar. "The Duchess of South Somerville" is Hauss’ way of bringing old stories to life again and igniting a renaissance of curiosity for both residents and heritage tourists of Somerset County.

In addition, Hauss plans on unveiling the title of her second book, a release date, and what work is being done in the Dukes’ name through her new initiative, Operation ORCHID.

Doors at the Van Veghten House will open at 1:30 p.m.. The talk will begin at 2 p.m. Light refreshments will be available before and after the presentation. Books will be autographed and sold for $20, and commemorative DORIS pins will also be available for just $1. Space is limited. Seats may be reserved by calling 732-425-2751 or sending an email to

This program is made possible, in part, by the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State through the State/County History Partnership Program Grant, administered in Somerset County by the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission