Arts & Entertainment

"Duchess of South Somerville:" Historic Site Hosts Book Signing with Hillsborough Author

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“The Duchess of South Somerville” was written by Hillsborough author Rikki Lynn Hauss. Credits: Rod Hirsch
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Hillsborough author Rikki Lynn Hauss holds a copy of her book, "The Duchess of South Somerville." The Drake House in Plainfield will host a book signing April 23. Credits: Rod Hirsch
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PLAINFIELD, NJ -  The Drake House Museum will host Hillsborough author Rikki Lynn Hauss, who will be signing copies of her book "The Duchess of South Somerville," a chronicle of the life and times of of billionaire heiress Doris Duke, the expansive 2,300-acre Duke Farms and the controversy surrounding demolition of the 67,000 square-foot estate on the property last year.

Hauss will be at the Drake House Museum, 602 West Front St. at 2 p.m. April 23.

Hauss,who grduated Hillsborough High School in 2012, wrote “The Duchess of South Somerville” following her experience as a member of The Demolition of Residence is Senseless (DORIS) Group in their effort to preserve the legacy of Doris Duke “the richest girl in the world.” “The Duchess of South Somerville” pays homage to the cosmopolitan philanthropist, her estate, and her property in Hillsborough, NJ: Duke Farms.

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The book also includes reminisces from people who worked for Duke on the estate, and people who lived on the property.

She was the only child of American tobacco baron James Duke; she used her vast inheritance to contribute to society as an entrepreneur and philanthropist.  Duke created centers of art and culture including Duke Farms, which fronts on Route 206 south in Hillsborough and Shangri La in Honolulu, Hawaii. She also established the Newport Restoration Foundation.

During and after World War II, Duke reported from various cities in war-torn Europe, and many times she offered her estates in New Jersey and Hawaii to veterans causes. When she died in 1993, a charitable foundation was formed to continue her philanthropy by awarding grants to the arts and artists.

DORIS, a grassroots group, was created to protect and preserve the cultural heritage left by Duke in Hillsborough.

“Ms. Hauss’ book recounts the efforts of local citizen volunteers who tried to save Ms. Duke’s favorite residence from demolition.  Ms. Hauss was the youngest member of DORIS, and her book describes the efforts undertaken for the sake of preservation,” said Nancy Piwowar, president of the Historical Society of Plainfield.

Copies of the 179-page book will be available for $22.

This program is made possible by the Historical Society of Plainfield/Drake House Museum.  Seating is limited and is on a first-come first-serve basis. Light refreshments will be served.  Donations are appreciated.

It was at the Drake House that George Washington consulted with his officers during and after the Battle of Short Hills fought over the entire Plainfield area on June 25-27, 1777. On permanent display at the Drake House Museum are three Colonial era rooms--the kitchen, the Queen Anne dining room, and the Washington bedroom. The parlor and the Harberger Library are interpreted as period Victorian rooms.

The Drake House Museum also displays two large paintings by noted Civil War painter Julian Scott, a Plainfield resident and a Medal of Honor recipient.  The Drake House is designated a National and New Jersey Historic Site.   

Onsite parking is available. For directions and more information about the Drake House and the Historical Society of Plainfield, visit www.drakehouseplainfieldnj.org.

 

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