North Carolina-UNC President’s Home-November 4


North Carolina People, Places, and Things-November 4

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special. Everyday this year I am doing a post on what I have learned new.

Last night I got to attend a reception at the President of the University of North Carolina residence.

presidents-home

Some historians refer to this house as the “Second President’s Home”. The house I was in last night was not the original President Residence. What I have been able to learn was the house was occupied by UNC’s first president, Joseph Caldwell, when he was elected president for the second time in 1816 until his death in 1835.  Caldwell, the university’s first president, moved there when he married a widow with three children. Needing more space, apparently, the president persuaded the university to sell him the property. Caldwell wrote to his brother in 1812, saying he had spent $2,000 on the new two-story house, which had a footprint measuring 40 feet by 24 feet. A total of 960 square feet. Caldwell was known to be an astronomy buff and had pillars on the property for the purposes of stargazing.

joseph-caldwell

It was also the home of President David Swain from 1849 to 1868. The house was then occupied by several UNC faculty members, including Thomas Hume, who moved in on Christmas Eve 1886. That night, a devastating fire started in an adjacent outbuilding and quickly destroyed the president’s house.

President Swain, having been a former governor, was connected politically. That quality meant all kinds of people came to the home.  Three U.S. presidents visited the home – James Polk, James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson. Archaeologists found a 1907 university history by Kemp Battle that described a summer soiree honoring Buchanan in the front yard.

Photo of 15th President of the United States James Buchanan.

james-buchanan

The current president’s residence was built in 1907 by Frank Millburn.  Today that home is occupied by UNC President Margaret Spellings. UNC Pembroke was proud to be her guest last night.

President Spellings and myself on a recent trip to UNC Pembroke.

president-spellings

 

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