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Changes in the Gothic Reading Room

Post contributed by Val Gillispie, University Archivist.

Color photo showing four men hanging the portrait of President A. Hollis Edens in the Gothic Reading Room.
Hanging portraits in the Gothic Reading Room following the Rubenstein Library renovation, 2015

The air is finally crisp in Durham, and we are all enjoying the cool weather and colorful leaves. We are changing inside the library, too, with a major shift for the portraits in the Gothic Reading Room. That’s right, the beloved and historic Gothic is getting an art update!

So what’s moving?

  • The three men responsible for the initial construction of Duke’s campus, Horace Trumbauer, Julian Abele, and Arthur C. Lee, will be moving across the room, next to the John Hope Franklin portrait.
  • The presidents will all be moved down to make room for future presidential portraits, including a portrait of past president Richard Brodhead, which will be hung in early November.
  • Founding Duke Endowment trustees will be moving in to archival storage, providing more room for additional portraits.

What’s not moving? James, Washington, and Ben Duke will remain where they are, as will Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans and John Hope Franklin.

The change means that the room now has space for new portraits to be added. So we ask you, dear reader: who would you honor with a portrait in the Gothic Reading Room?

3 thoughts on “Changes in the Gothic Reading Room”

  1. William Kenneth Boyd, who perhaps has a portrait in the history department seminar room, deserves a place in the Gothic Reading Room. He not only presided over the enlargement of the history department as Trinity College grew into Duke University, he was the chairman of the library committee that oversaw the planning and growth of the university libraries. He also was a great collector who secured much of the Southern Americana that laid the foundations of what is now the Rubenstein Library and made Duke the peer of the Southern Historical Collection at Chapel Hill.

  2. The Gothic Reading room desperately needs some portraits of women! As a female student, I have been discouraged studying in there while seeing virtually no portraits of woman on the walls.

  3. Mary Duke Lyon, Washington Duke’s daughter, deserves a place alongside her celebrated brothers Buck and Ben. Mary was instrumental in encouraging her father–who lived with her in his old age– to think about the importance of women’s education.

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