SOMERVILLE, NJ - She was “The richest girl in the world,” worth more than one billion dollars when she died in 1993.
Ssocialite, horticulturalist, art collector, and philanthropist. Doris Duke lived, played, entertained and relaxed at her 67,000 square foot mansion in Hillsborough and four other expansive mansions in Newport, R.I., California, Hawaii and New York City.
People who worked for her and who lived on the expansive estate in Hillsborough will gather on Saturday, Feb. 27 at the United Reformed Church, 100 West Main St., Somerville to reminisce and share their personal stories about the daughter of wealthy tobacco tycoon Jack Buchanan Duke, all first-hand accounts detailing her global travel, wide-ranging interests and life in the fast lane.
These extended across journalism, competitive surfing, wildlife conservation, Oriental art and Hare Krishna. She was also a jazz pianist and avid horticulturist.
She acquired the mansion and property in 1932 after a drawn-out battle with her mother. Her father died in 1925.
Much of her work centered on her father's estate in Hillsborough, where she created many elaborately-themed gardens, furnished with artifacts acquired on her world travels, including one of America's largest indoor botanical displays. She was also active in preserving more than 80 historic buildings in Newport, Rhode Island.
Twice married and divorced, Duke enjoyed a colorful private life that was seldom out of the gossip columns.
Her philanthropic work continued into her old age, some of it unknown to the public during her lifetime, and her estimated $1.3 billion fortune was largely left to charity.
A suggested donation of $5 will be dedicated to the DORIS Legal Defense Fund.
DORIS – Demolition of Residence is Senseless – is a grassroots citizens group fighting to save the mansion from being demolished. Arguments in the case were heard on Friday in Superior Court, Somerville, with a judge’s ruling expected late next week.