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Works Cited

Anderson, Jean Bradley. Durham County: A History of Durham County, North Carolina. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.

Bradham, Bre. "University commemorates West Campus architect Julian Abele's legacy at Abele Quad dedication ceremony Friday." The Chronicle. September 30,  2016.

"Chapel Reopens After Year of Restoration." Duke Today. May 11, 2016.

"Duke University Chapel: Bridging Faith & Learning." Duke University Chapel. Accessed June 20, 2018.

King, William E. "Duke University: A Brief Narrative History." Duke University Archives. Accessed June 20, 2018.

"Organs." Duke University Chapel. Accessed June 20, 2018."

"Robert E. Lee statue is removed from Duke Chapel." The Chronicle. August 19, 2017.

Duke Chapel Fast Facts

291 x 63'

Chapel's interior dimensions


Height of the Nave


Tower height

$2.2 million

Cost of initial construction


Primary construction years


Bells in the carillon

11,200 pounds

Weight of heaviest bell


Separate organs


Stained glass windows

1 million

Individual pieces of glass in the windows

Key Names in Duke Construction

Statue of James B. Duke on West Campus.

Courtesy of the Duke University Archives.

James Buchanan Duke

The Duke family's tobacco company became the largest cigarette manufacturer in the country after James B. Duke inherited it from his father.  Wealthy from this and his endeavors in hydroelectric power, J. B. Duke was also a philanthropist. In 1924 he created the Duke Endowment to fund several schools, churches, and hospitals in North Carolina. An initial $19 million was specifically for the Duke Construction project, and when he died in 1925 he left an additional $67 million to the Duke Endowment. His contributions made it possible for Duke University (named after his family) to grow to become the institution that it is today.¹

President Few at Commencement in 1931.

Courtesy of the Duke University Archives.

William Preston Few

The first president of recently-renamed Duke University, Few served in that role during the massive construction projects of the late 1920s and early 1930s.  Although he was not personally involved with any of the construction, he would have overseen some of the major decisions and conversations of the process.  Few oversaw incredible growth over his decades at Duke: at his inauguration in 1910, Trinity College had 363 students and 32 faculty; at his death in 1940, Duke University had 3,716 students and 476 faculty.²

R. L. Flowers just after the establishment of the Duke Endowment, 1924.

Courtesy of the Duke University Archives.

Robert Lee Flowers

As Duke's Vice President of the Business Division (akin to a CFO), a part of the Duke Endowment's Building Committee, and a longtime member of Duke University's board of trustees, Flowers oversaw the construction of both East and West Campus. In letters to Horace Trumbauer, it's clear that he was responsible for decisions about not just "big-picture" topics but also the tiny details that went into construction, such as choosing bed frames and silverware for the new campus. Flowers would later serve as president of the university.³

Horace Trumbauer outside of the Chapel.

Courtesy of the Duke University Archives.

Horace Trumbauer

James B. Duke chose Horace Trumbauer's Philadelphia-based architecture firm to design the new campus.  Trumbauer had previously built James Duke's mansion in New York, and in the course of his time working with Duke University he became good friends with some of the administrators.⁴

Portrait of architect Julian Abele.

Courtesy of the Duke University Archives.

Julian Abele

Julian Abele became the first African American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's architecture school in 1902 and immediately began working for Horace Trumbauer's firm.  Sponsored by Horace Trumbauer, he studied at the Ecole Des Beaux Arts in Paris before quickly becoming the Chief Designer of Trumbauer's company.  Despite his training and remarkable talent, much of his work remained anonymous until after his death. The architectural drawings for Duke Chapel are the only ones he openly claimed as his own during his lifetime, although he certainly was responsible for most (if not all) of the designs for other West Campus buildings.⁵

Chief Engineer A. C. Lee outside of the Chapel.

Courtesy of the Duke University Archives.

A. C. Lee

The Chief Engineer of the newly-formed Duke Construction Company, A. C. Lee supervised all the construction on Duke's campus and consulted with the administration of the university to make decisions about the design and construction of the buildings.⁶

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