23 June 2018

Lovers Lane West End, Then and Now

Today, Duke Farms calls the road that runs east-west across the northern end of the "historic core" of James B. Duke's Hillsborough, NJ estate Overlook Way. At the time the postcard image below was captured in 1907 - half a decade into Duke's transformation of his gentleman's farm into a world-class semi-public park - it was called Lover's Lane.

Lovers Lane at Duke's Park, postcard circa 1907
But the road predates Duke's 1893 purchase of the property by centuries. It is simply a continuation of the River Road from South Branch to Somerville. In the center of the intersection with the road that leads across the Nevius Street Bridge into Raritan Duke installed a massive imported marble fountain with bronze figures. In those early days, there were no gates at any of the entrances, including of course at this public road which led straight past Duke's house to Frazee's Hill then South Bridge Street.

Postcard circa 1906
After Duke's 1925 death, his widow, Nanaline, and daughter, Doris, sought to have the road closed. Hillsborough Township was willing, but virulent opposition from Raritan, Somerville, Manville, and Bridgewater nixed the plan. Finally in 1931, with Duke Farms assurance that Roycefield Road to Woodville Road (Duke's Parkway West) would remain open, the road was closed.

Overlook Way, Duke Farms, 2016


  1. Loved "Lovers Lane - West End, Then and Now," as I do your blog in general. But in the article, is there a typo in the sentence "Finally in 1931, with Duke Farms assurance that Roycefield Road to Woodville Road (Duke's Parkway East) would remain open, the road was closed."? Shouldn't Woodville Rd. have become Duke's Parkway "West" or do I have it wrong?
    Thank you!

    1. Not a typo - just sloppy! Thank you so much for pointing out the error. I am fixing it right now. And thanks for reading!!