Duke Farms’ Coach Barn Restoration Project Update – Reopening in April!


In 2012, in advance of Duke Farms reopening to the public, the Foundation prioritized the use of sustainable building practices in all restoration projects. This includes the utilization of green technologies, the salvage and reuse of existing onsite materials, and minimizing waste sent to landfills. As a result, Duke Farms has been awarded several honors, including the 2012 Green Building Council Community Award and the 2015 New Jersey Preservation Award. All of the methods and technologies used at the recently-restored Farm Barn and Orchid Range have resulted in LEED-certification.

In 2015, Duke Farms began a restoration project for the exterior of the 1899 Coach Barn. This was the first structure built at Duke Farms by James Buchanan “Buck” Duke. Like other iconic structures at Duke Farms, it was designed by the architectural firm of Kendall Taylor and Stevens. With its distinctive clock tower and rustic walls made from locally quarried fieldstone, it set the architectural tone for many of the subsequent buildings at Duke Farms.

The first floor consists of stables, a garage, the former office of Buck Duke and the main court containing four large murals of hunting scenes from around the world. The second floor houses a hay loft and former apartment for the chauffeur. The clock tower contains the original clock mechanics that still maintain the precise time since the original installation. Adjacent to the clock tower is a porte-cochere that was used for automobiles. There is a full basement that houses many of the original “shops” that were used by the workers who built Duke Farms, many of which are still in use today.

This project has included replacement of the original slate roof and cedar-shake siding, restoring and repainting the windows, and repairing the masonry on the clock tower. The materials which are being used are historically accurate and durable   (e.g. Buckingham slate from Virginia, stainless steel fasteners, and thick gauge copper), and the new roof is expected to last even longer than the original.  The weathervane on top of the clock tower has been restored to its original condition. Working with Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, we were able to locate a copy of the original architectural drawing of the weathervane (below), dating from the 1890’s, and then  worked with Belcher Roofing and A.C. Gentry to restore as much of the existing weathervane as possible. The project was designed and construction overseen by Nan Gutterman, of Vitetta, a Philadelphia-based architectural firm that specializes in historic preservation.

Duke Farms is excited to reopen this magnificent structure for public programs sometime in the late spring or early summer of 2016. In the interim, visitors can see the progress which is being made on the project, which is clearly visible just a short walk or bike ride away from the Visitors Center.

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