Outrageous Ambitions: How a One-Room Schoolhouse Became a Research University

Buildings and Campus

The “Gothic Wonderland” of Duke is just one example of the draw that Duke’s landscape and architecture has had on students and visitors. From the rural environment in Randolph County to the establishment of a campus in the burgeoning city of Durham, the physical environment of the school has always been a source of pride.

Photograph of Brown's Schoolhouse in Randolph County, North Carolina.

Brown's Schoolhouse

Brown's Schoolhouse

When Trinity College moved to Durham from Trinity, North Carolina (in Randolph County) in 1892, campus was located on land donated by Julian Carr that was the former site of Blackwell’s Race Track.  One of the first additions was the gate.

Horace Trumbauer architectural drawing of an aerial view of Duke University's East Campus.

Aerial View of East Campus

Aerial View of East Campus

This photo is taken from approximately where the bus circle is today. The Chapel has not yet been built, but the Page and Flowers buildings are visible on the left, and the Divinity School is visible on the right.

Photograph of the construction of West Campus in 1929.

West Campus Construction, 1929

West Campus Construction, 1929

Photograph of the construction of West Campus in 1929.

Architectural Sketch by Horace Trumbauer (entrance)

Architectural Sketch by Horace Trumbauer (entrance)

Architectural Sketch by Horace Trumbauer (entrance

The original buildings on West Campus were designed by the architectural firm of Horace Trumbauer, one of the most prominent Gilded Age American architects. Trumbauer owned a Philadelphia-based firm and was a favorite architect of the Duke family. The chief designer at Trumbauer’s firm, Julian Abele, was the first African-American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania architectural school.

These drawings are architectural sketches made by Trumbauer to illustrate to the Board of Trustees, the Duke family, and other parties what the buildings would look like upon completion.

An architectural sketch by Horace Trumbauer of the exterior of the Duke Chapel.  Trumbauer created renderings of buildings and places on campus to give the trustees and Duke family a better idea of how it would look when it was completed.

Architectural Sketch by Horace Trumbauer (Chapel exterior)

Architectural Sketch by Horace Trumbauer (Chapel exterior)

The original buildings on West Campus were designed by the architectural firm of Horace Trumbauer, one of the most prominent Gilded Age American architects. Trumbauer owned a Philadelphia-based firm and was a favorite architect of the Duke family. The chief designer at Trumbauer’s firm, Julian Abele, was the first African-American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania architectural school.

These drawings are architectural sketches made by Trumbauer to illustrate to the Board of Trustees, the Duke family, and other parties what the buildings would look like upon completion.

An architectural sketch by Horace Trumbauer of interior of the Duke Chapel.  Trumbauer created renderings of buildings and places on campus to give the trustees and Duke family a better idea of how it would look when it was completed.

Architectural Sketch by Horace Trumbauer (Chapel interior)

Architectural Sketch by Horace Trumbauer (Chapel interior)

The original buildings on West Campus were designed by the architectural firm of Horace Trumbauer, one of the most prominent Gilded Age American architects. Trumbauer owned a Philadelphia-based firm and was a favorite architect of the Duke family. The chief designer at Trumbauer’s firm, Julian Abele, was the first African-American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania architectural school.

These drawings are architectural sketches made by Trumbauer to illustrate to the Board of Trustees, the Duke family, and other parties what the buildings would look like upon completion.

Trowels used by stonemason Peter Ferrentini during the construction of Duke University's West Campus.

Peter Ferrentini Trowels

Peter Ferrentini Trowels

The original buildings on West Campus were designed by the architectural firm of Horace Trumbauer, one of the most prominent Gilded Age American architects. Trumbauer owned a Philadelphia-based firm and was a favorite architect of the Duke family. The chief designer at Trumbauer’s firm, Julian Abele, was the first African-American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania architectural school.

These drawings are architectural sketches made by Trumbauer to illustrate to the Board of Trustees, the Duke family, and other parties what the buildings would look like upon completion.