A Day to View the Duke University Designs of Julian Abele and the Trumbauer Co.

Original campus drawings provide surprises

Part of the Julian Abele's Legacy Series

A rare opportunity to view original drawings of iconic Duke campus buildings had its share of surprises.  The original plan for Baldwin Auditorium showed an interior and exterior dome. Designs for buildings never constructed, such as a home for the original School of Forestry (now the Nicholas School of Environment), gave insights into the decisions made during construction. Another layout placed the School of Law next to the Chapel.

For the people who made their way to the Gothic Reading Room to view the drawings, curiosities were satisfied. Former University Archivist William King found his old student dorm room in the original plans for House CC.

Other drawings showed the first designs for Duke Chapel and Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The exhibit was a showcase for the contributions of Julian Abele, the African-American architect who was the chief designer for Philadelphia’s Horace Trumbauer firm. Abele led the design not just of West Campus in 1924, but also of many of the key architectural elements of East Campus, including Baldwin Auditorium. Last year, the university dedicated the central quad on West Campus in Abele's honor.

Above, Julian Abele's signature is seen on a sketch of Duke's campus. Below, Sam Schwaller, left, a junior, and sophomore Aaron Hong flip through the original blueprints.

The Duke University Archives and the Facilities Management Department hosted the event. 

Most of the blueprints have been used by the Facilities Management Department (FMD) for facility maintenance purposes, but they have never been publically available before. A smaller number of materials are drawn from the University Archives and have been available for research. FMD is currently transferring the historic original drawings to the University Archives, where they will be available for research.

Below, Adem Gusa, assistant director of planning and design of Duke Facilities, takes a photo of an original sketch of Duke University. Photos by Megan Mendenhall/Duke Photography.