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October 19, 2015

N.J. Town Panel OKs Demolition of Doris Duke Mansion

Officials in central New Jersey have approved plans by the nonprofit that manages the late socialite and philanthropist Doris Duke's rural estate to raze her 122-year-old home, reports the Associated Press. The vote Thursday night by the Hillsborough Township Historic Preservation Commission culminated a lengthy hearing process over the demolition plan, which drew strong opposition from local preservationists.

The Duke Farms Foundation said the 67,000-square-foot mansion, empty since Ms. Duke's death in 1993, had fallen into disrepair and would need $10 million to $20 million in renovations to meet property codes. The organization said if the demolition was approved it would open to the public about 50 acres of previously fenced-off grounds surrounding the house. Critics of the plan called on the foundation to explore "re-adaptive uses" for the building that could draw revenue and attention to Duke Farms.