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James B. Duke House facts for kids

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James B. Duke House
James B Duke House 001.JPG
James B. Duke House
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Location 1 E. 78th St., New York, New York
Area less than one acre
Built 1909–1912
Architect Horace Trumbauer
Architectural style French Classical/Louis XV
NRHP reference No. 77000956
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 10, 1977

The James B. Duke House is a mansion located at 1 East 78th Street, on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. The house is one of the great extant mansions from "Millionaire's Row". It was built for James Buchanan Duke, who was one of the founding partners of American Tobacco Company and the owner of Duke Power. The building has housed the New York University Institute of Fine Arts since 1952.


In designing the house, the architect Horace Trumbauer drew heavily upon the design of French architect Etienne Laclotte's Château Labottière, built in 1773 at 16 Rue de Tivoli in Bordeaux. Trumbauer copied almost verbatim Laclotte's projecting central bay and pediment, stacked columns in antis, bracketed cornice, attic balustrade, and channeled rustication, while improving the proportion of the original. . Duke purchased the site in August 1909 and construction completed in 1912. Three members of the Duke family—James B., his wife Nanaline, and their daughter Doris—lived there with their staff part of the year.

In January 1958, Nanaline and Doris Duke donated the building to New York University's Institute of Fine Arts, after which the architect Robert Venturi renovated the building for academic use. The main reception rooms on the ground floor retain many of the original furnishings and decorations, while the Institute's library and faculty offices now occupy the eight bedrooms of the second floor and the servants' quarters on the third floor.

A Landmarks of New York plaque was erected in 1959 by the New York Community Trust. After a public hearing held on March 30, 1970, the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the house a landmark on September 15, 1970, calling it “one of the adornments of Fifth Avenue and one of the last reminders of the Age of Elegance.” The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Film location

The house has been used as a film location on several occasions, such as the engagement party scene in the 1981 film Arthur. In 2017, interior shots for the film The Greatest Showman were filmed there. In 2018, scenes for the film The Goldfinch were filmed there.

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