The Duke Homestead was built about 1852 by Washington Duke, on a farm that was about 300 acres in size when the American Civil War broke out. During the war, the property was, like many others, looted by Union Army. With little left beyond a small supply of tobacco, the family shifted from tobacco farming to tobacco processing, introducing cigarettes in 1881 to compete with loose-leaf tobacco. This property is where the Dukes did their early tobacco processing, eventually moving into downtown Durham in 1874. The Duke business was incorporated as the American Tobacco Company in 1890, and was the largest tobacco company in the world until an antitrust suit broke it up in 1911. In 1931, the farm was purchased by Duke University, and in 1966, the Duke Homestead was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.
A few of the original buildings still stand, and although visitors are welcomed year-round, there are special events during the Halloween and Christmas season. On Friday, the Halloween event took place. Votive lights lit paths to go from one activity to another. There was a "medicine man" offering elixers, demonstrations of turnip carving (a precursor to the Jack-O-Lantern), crafts for the kids, a fortune teller, hot cider, and kettle corn.
Take a quick step back into the 19th century!
|The Duke Homestead lit with oil lamps and a lovely fireplace.|
|There were crafts for the kids|
|My favorite part - some wonderful actors dressed in period costumes told spooky stories by candlelight.|
|After their tales were told, they invited the audience to share their own stories.|
|This little girl was brave enough to share a story of her own.|