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Hart House To Be Renovated

New Duke President Brodhead will be living in the renovated Hart House, the former residence of Duke President Dr. Deryl Hart. It will be good to have the president living on campus again.

The house itself is in need of updating - networking is virtually impossible due to the antique wiring. But unlike a lot of places, the house has a definite soul and presence.

The first thing you notice is the size - it's really big house. The basement has a main section and then three or four additional rooms. The first floor has two kitchens, a casual family room, a formal dining room, a library, an enormous foyer, a formal living room, a semi-study, and a sunroom. The second floor has the master bedroom, which has a dressing room and a large bathroom and a sleeping porch as well. It's essentially a suite unto itself.

Aside from those, there are four bedrooms and an apartment which was added after the initial construction (as was the new kitchen and casual family room). The apartment has a kitchenette and a bathroom so it is also pretty much a suite.

The third floor was originally designed as a massive playroom, and the center room was an amazing place for kids to play. There are three additional rooms that the Harts rented out for years to medical students. Dr. Hart grew up in rural Georgia, in Sherman's path not that long after the Civil War, and was very lucky to get educated at all. He never forgot how difficult to get as far as he got in life, and so he and Mrs. Hart rented rooms out to medical students for decades, and the price never went up: $25.00 a month, and you got to eat with the family when you wanted to.

There are also two structures between the house and Wallace Wade. One was built aroung a boxcar which left Europe in the nick of time, saving a family from Hitler's Final Solution. It came to Durham with all their possessions and was ever after parked at the Hart's, where a building was put up around it. It's a very humble building, quite rural actually, but with an impressive pedigree. Chances are Duke tears it down, but it's an interesting bit of history with a right to go on, in our opinion.

The other house, which was converted to an apartment for Mrs. Hart's steady line of grandchildren who attended Duke, used to be a chicken house and was still called that. During the Depression, the Harts raised (and slaughtered) their own chickens and turkeys, and that was where the birds and supplies were kept.

Aside from the obvious, the house has a number of secrets which we won't go into here. Suffice it to say, not everything in life is immediately obvious. As we said, it has a soul and a spirit, and we hope they will be noticed and treasured.

We hope the Brodheads will enjoy the house, and we hope they take some interest in its story as well. It is a gracious place to live, and a joyful place as well. We should also say we are pleased that Duke didn't decide to give it to, say, the English department. It's not an office, it's a home, and a wonderful, rare place to be.