Hart House at Duke to be Renovated

The renovations will allow Duke's presidential residence to return to the campus for the first time since the 1960s

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University's Board of Trustees has decided to renovate the house of former university president Dr. Deryl Hart, at the corner of Cameron Boulevard and Duke University Road, to return Duke's presidential residence to the campus for the first time since the 1960s.

"Its campus location and setting are ideal, and when renovated it will be a great facility," said Trustee Chairman Peter Nicholas. "We believe it will serve future Duke presidents and Duke well."

Richard H. Brodhead, who will become Duke's ninth president on July 1, and his wife Cindy will move into the house after renovations are completed, probably around year's end, Executive Vice President Tallman Trask III said.

Duke President Nannerl O. Keohane and her husband have lived in the Knight House, a university-owned property in Duke Forest about one mile from campus. Knight House, named for former President Douglas Knight, has served as the home for three Duke presidents -- Knight, who was president when it was built in the 1960s, Terry Sanford and Keohane. It also served as a university guest house and conference facility during the presidency of Keohane's predecessor, H. Keith H. Brodie, when Brodie decided to live in his own home when he was elected to the presidency in 1985. Trask said the Knight House will likely be used as it was during the Brodie presidency.

The Hart House is a three-floor building constructed from brick and timber. Members of the Hart family occupied it from the time of its construction in 1933 until the death in July 2000 of Mary Hart, wife of Duke's fourth president who served from 1960 to 1963. Duke's Board of Trustees promised Dr. Hart a house on campus when it recruited him from The Johns Hopkins University to be head of surgery, giving him a 50-year-lease for $1. After his death in 1980, the Board of Trustees said Mary Hart could stay in the home as long as she wished.

Nicholas said the death of Mrs. Hart led Duke's trustees to consider the future of the house. "Everyone recognized that a decision to keep it, rather than replace it, would require the structure to be substantially modernized, and there was a strong sentiment favoring a president's home on campus and keeping the house as a residence rather than converting it to other administrative uses," Nicholas said. "We think it is important for the president's home to be easily accessible to the campus community."

The renovated president's house, which borders Duke's football field at the intersection of two main campus roads, will provide both official function space and private living quarters. Trask said the renovation will be costly because the house lacks air conditioning and still has its original wiring, plumbing and mechanical systems. The public spaces must be made accessible for visitors with disabilities, and planners also must consider issues ranging from vehicular access to landscaping and security.

Trask will oversee the project with Kemel Dawkins, vice president for campus services, and John Pearce, university architect, with help from outside architects, designers and engineers. The project will be funded by donations from several university trustees, Trask said.

Before the construction of the Knight House, Duke presidents lived in several locations. The university's first president, William Preston Few, lived in the house on Campus Drive now occupied by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. His successor, Robert Lee Flowers, remained in his personal home at the end of Chapel Drive, a building that now houses the Office of Alumni Affairs. Next was Arthur Edens, who took residence in the same "president's house" used by Few. Edens was followed by Dr. Hart.

The Hart House's future resident said he looks forward to making the house a true home for himself and his family, and a gathering place for university events.

"I appreciate the trustees' decision to renovate the Hart House, which will provide a wonderful venue for campus events and home for Cindy and me, and for future Duke presidents," Brodhead said. "It's a particularly lovely building, and it means a lot to me that students and faculty will be able to walk to our home from campus."