A Philadelphian at Duke

I lived for four years in a gracious apartment at 6500 Wissahickon Avenue, in Philadelphia, in an elegant but understated stone building designed for his children by the prominent Philadelphia architect of the early 20th century- Horace Trumbauer. Living with the Trumbauer ghosts made me want to visit the Duke University campus, which I finally did this week.

It wasn’t until the late 1980s that the true architect of the magnificent neo-Gothic Duke Chapel — Julian Abele — posthumously got his due. The first African-American graduate of Penn’s architecture school, he worked in Trumbauer’s shadow, unrecognized by Duke during his lifetime because he was Black.

Finally, in 2016, Duke renamed the main quadrangle dominated by the Chapel Julian Abele Quad, recovering Abele from 60 years of official segregated anonymity. Amy Cohen has a fascinating article here about the life-long friendship between Julian Abele and her great-uncle, one of the first Jewish graduates of Penn’s architecture school.

Spring on the Duke campus is lush and green, the time to visit before the heat becomes oppressive. But why, oh why, are the magnificent Duke Gardens closed due to COVID? Gardens should be respites for a quarantine-weary people. Sigh.

And in other Philly-in-Durham news, the iconic King’s Sandwich Shop does have an item on its menu called a Philly Cheesesteak (hmmm). Went for the shrimp po’boy instead.

#durhamnc #dukechapel

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