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Gardens to Receive Preservation Award Friday

Preservation NC honors Roney Fountain project

Duke's efforts to restore the Roney Fountain has returned some history to the Gardens. Photo by Rick Fisher.
Duke's efforts to restore the Roney Fountain has returned some history to the Gardens. Photo by Rick Fisher.

Duke University will receive Preservation
North Carolina's highest honor Friday for restoring the historic Roney Fountain
that now sits near the entrance to Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

The Minnette C. Duffy Landscape Preservation
Award recognizes preservation, restoration or maintenance of landscapes,
gardens, streetscapes or grounds related to historic structures. The Roney
Fountain was installed in 1987* at Trinity College, which is now Duke's East
Campus. After languishing in disrepair for many years, it was restored and
moved to the center of Duke Gardens' newly redesigned Mary Duke Biddle Rose
Garden earlier this year.

"No one involved in this project realized
how exact a restoration we would be able to effect," said Duke Gardens
Executive Director Bill LeFevre, who planned to attend today's ceremony. "The
way in which the fountain fills and interacts with the space in the Rose Garden
far exceeded everyone's expectations."

Anne Roney, sister-in-law of Washington Duke, donated the fountain
to Trinity College in Washington Duke's honor. Washington Duke was one of
Trinity's early benefactors, and Duke University was named after him.

Little remained of the fountain in recent decades. Its crowning
glory, a crane that spouted water, was long gone, along with other features. And
massive magnolias had grown to obscure it.  Duke Gardens, meanwhile, was seeking a fountain. An early
master plan for the Rose Garden had called for one, but it had never been

Fortune fell in the fountain's favor
when the molds for the original design were traced to Robinson Iron in Alabama,
which had bought them from their creator, J.L. Mott Iron Works of New York City.
Robinson Iron did the restoration, working closely with project architects LAMBERT
Architecture + Interiors of Winston-Salem. Duke University Archives also
provided critical research.

A bequest from the late Dr. J. Robert Teabeaut II (T '45, M.D.
'47) paid for the restoration. The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation provided
additional funding for the project, as did the Thomas S. Kenan Foundation, the
William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust and other donors. Mary Duke Biddle Trent
Semans is Washington Duke's great-granddaughter, and the
granddaughter of Sarah P. Duke, the Gardens' namesake.

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