Local News

March 21, 2009

Duke and Durham: More than just basketball

if you go

Duke University, Durham, NC 27708. (919) 684-8111.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens, West Campus, Duke University. (919) 684-3698.

Nasher Museum of Art, 2001 Campus Drive, Durham, NC 27705. (919) 684-0700.

Duke University Primate Center, 3705 Erwin Road, Durham, NC 27705. (919) 489-3364.

Duke Homestead and Tobacco Museum, 2828 Duke Homestead Road, Durham, NC 27705. (919) 477-5498.

Bennett Place State Historic Site, 4409 Bennett Memorial Road, Durham, NC 27705. (919) 383-4345.

It turns out there are other things just as certain as death and taxes.

Basketball fever in North Carolina, for instance.

When March rolls around, that means National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college basketball playoffs are under way. Sixty-five teams make it into the national tournament. Most of the time, storied rivals Duke University and the University of North Carolina are among them.

We visited Duke during a quieter period, when the basketball season was just getting started. One of America's most beautiful campuses (okay, that's my prejudiced opinion), it includes a Georgian-style East Campus and the very imposing Gothic architecture of the newer West Campus.

The East Campus dates to 1887, when Trinity College moved from its more rural location to Durham. In 1924, James Buchanan Duke donated $40 million, and the school was renamed in honor of his father. Shortly thereafter, construction began on the West Campus, using stone from a Duke-owned quarry at nearby Hillsborough.


Duke Chapel, on the West Campus, is the college's most recognizable landmark, that is, after the legions of blue-painted faces on students attending the Blue Devil basketball games.

With its tower soaring 210 feet into the air, it anchors the West Campus. Any visit to the university should include time in the chapel.

The Sarah Duke Gardens, covering 55 acres, is one of those wonderful public spaces that any school would want in its environs. Impressive stone terracing, garden cottages, ponds and small streams create a landscape notable for its rose gardens and one of the largest collections of plants native to the southeastern United States. Twenty acres are dedicated to Asian varieties.

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