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A tour of Rough Point is as much about architecture, interiors, art, and fine furnishings as it is about its most well known and most recent owner, the heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke (1912-1993). Duke wanted this favorite private retreat, which her family had owned since 1922, to be enjoyed by the public and left instructions in her will for it to be opened as a museum after her death. What you see as you travel from room to room, with the exception of the second floor galleries, is the house essentially as Doris Duke decorated it and lived in it.

Duke spent her teens summering in Newport, but for most of her early adulthood preferred to live in New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii. Newport and Rough Point became attractive to her again in 1957, when she was in her mid forties and deciding to give her Manhattan house to New York University. She needed somewhere to put its contents, which included a considerable amount of art and antique furnishings inherited from her father, the industrialist James Buchanan Duke (1856-1925). Once the collection was relocated to Rough Point, Duke began to add to it almost immediately in surprisingly complementary ways, rearranging rooms frequently to accommodate new purchases. This mixing of what she bought with what she inherited is what gives the house its unique appearance.

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