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Trumbauer hired Abele full time after his travels as an assistant to the chief designer, Frank Seeburger. When Seeburger left Trumbauer, it was Abele’s turn to take over as Chief Designer. He was paid high wages. Under the firm, Abele and his architects took on several buildings at Duke University, including the Cameron Indoor Stadium and the Allen Administration Building.

Julian Abele married a woman 20 years his junior named Marguerite. They would have three children, all of which Abele would continue raising alone after his wife left him for another man in 1936.

Abele was always dressed like a gentleman. Even at the beach, he wore a three-piece suit. Though impeccably dressed and highly intelligent, he was still subjected to racism. When he attempted to visit the Duke University campus, which held several of his designs, he was refused a room at the Durham hotel in North Carolina. Even his own spectacular designs on the campuses and all over the country could not bear his signature until after the death of Horace Trumbauer.

Julian Abele died in 1950. It was not until the late 1980’s and after student protest, which was sparked by Abele’s granddaughter, that a portrait of Abele was allowed to hang on Duke University’s campus. It was the first portrait of an African American on display at the university.

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