Far from his modest beginnings as a confederate soldier in 1865, Washington Duke, industrialist and philanthropist, became a classic example of the American dream.
He returned from the Civil War to three motherless children. The land (Duke Homestead), a tobacco barn, a mule, and fifty cents were his sole possessions. With these meager assets, Washington Duke, along with his sons James and Benjamin, built a simple family business into a powerful multi-national corporation known as the American Tobacco Company.
Washington Duke then began a life of community service and philanthropy. In 1891 he joined other local businessmen in bringing Trinity College to Durham and became its foremost benefactor. His son, James, created the Duke Endowment in 1924, and Trinity College was renamed Duke University in honor of Washington Duke.
The Duke family has carried on this rich history of community service, philanthropy and loyalty to Duke University in subsequent generations. The family's continuing interest is evident throughout the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. Family artifacts and photographs have been donated for display in the hallways. The family coat of arms has been incorporated in the Inn's symbol.
In the spirit of long-standing tradition, the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club takes great pride in bearing the name of Washington Duke and in its close association with his family.
The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club opened in 1988 to serve the needs of Duke University, Duke University Medical Center and the area's growing business community. It was named for Washington Duke (1820-1905).
Ambassador Angier Biddle Duke (1915-1995), great-grandson of Washington Duke, followed family tradition and embraced public service at a young age. The Washington Duke Inn's exhibit of Ambassador Duke's memorabilia includes papers, artifacts and gifts he received during his tenures as ambassador to El Salvador, Spain, Morocco and Denmark, and the many citations and decorations he received from presidents and royal families.
Ambassador Duke drew on the rich history of Durham and the Duke family as he selected names for the public areas and suites at the Inn. The Fairview Dining Room, for example, is named for the residence of Washington Duke, built in the 1880's, on Durham's Main Street.
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