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Century-Old East Campus Fountain Moves to Gardens

Structure will be installed near entrance

The East Campus fountain as seen in the 1920s.

A fountain that stood on East Campus for more than a century will have a new home this spring near the entrance to Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

That will mean detours for visitors from next week through spring, but also a dramatic new centerpiece in the Rose Garden, which is the first main feature visitors encounter when they enter Duke Gardens through the Gothic gates.

The Roney Fountain has already been removed from its spot in front of the East Duke Building, where was installed in 1897*. Anne Roney, sister-in-law of Washington Duke, donated it to what was then Trinity College in Washington Duke's honor. Washington Duke was one of Trinity College's early benefactors, and Duke University was named in his honor.

Archive photos show the fountain's original two tiers, flanked by birds and topped by a crane with its wings spread. In recent years, it fell into disrepair.

During construction, which is expected to last until May, visitors will be detoured at the top of the steps leading into the Rose Garden. They will circle around the garden wall to the left and rejoin the main path heading toward the Gardens' iconic pergola.

Workers on East Campus this week removed the granite basin that held the fountain. The area will be covered with grass, and the basin will be reconstructed in Duke Gardens.

A bequest from the late Dr. J. Robert Teabeaut II (T' 45, M.D. '47) in honor of Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans funded the restoration. Semans is the granddaughter of Duke co-founder Benjamin N. Duke and Sarah P. Duke, the Gardens' namesake. The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation provided additional funding for the project.

"We at Duke Gardens are thrilled to be able to restore the Roney Fountain to a place of prominence on the Duke Campus," Duke Gardens executive director Bill LeFevre said, "and honor the legacy of four generations of Duke women who helped make the campus what it is today."


A contemporary portrait of the East Campus fountain, which is now being moved to Duke Gardens.

* The story originally gave 1901 as the date of installation. Newer information found in 2017 now suggests it was 1897.