28 March 2021

Farm Barn Stone Well House, Then and Now

Nearly all of the stone structures built at Duke Farms over a century ago - well houses, spring houses, summer houses, bridges, etc. - still exist today. They were a favorite of photographers in the early years of the last century and turn up frequently in published postcards.


Postcard circa 1912

The well house depicted in the bottom right of the three-scene postcard above is decidedly underrepresented in the historical record. In fact, this small image is the only early professional photograph I have been able to find of the structure located in the field to the east of the Farm Barn/Orientation Center.

Postcard Detail

It is similar in design to the Lovers' Tower located in the historic core of the James B. Duke estate shown in the top right of the three-scene postcard - just not elevated.

Privately printed postcard, 1908
(Collection of Gillette on Hillsborough)

The only other representation of this scene that I have been able to locate is a privately printed postcard photographed in an inadvertent double exposure by a shaky-handed tourist in 1908.

March 2021

Today, work is almost complete in repurposing the well house as a birding platform. This summer, perhaps?

March 2021

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