Duke Homestead was originally owned by Washington Duke in the 19th century. After the American Civil War, the family shifted from tobacco farming to tobacco processing, eventually establishing the American Tobacco Company in 1890, the largest tobacco company in the world until an antitrust suit broke it up in 1911. In 1931, the farm was purchased by Duke University, and in 1966, the Duke Homestead was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. It became a North Carolina State Historic Site in 1974, administered by the North Carolina State Division of Archives and History.
Today, Duke Homestead State Historic Site is a museum where tourists can view the restored 1852 Duke Homestead with four furnished rooms, tobacco barns and various artifacts. The visitor center features the Tobacco Museum, with exhibits about tobacco farming, processing and the history of tobacco. Various readings and presentations are available in the Visitor Center.