icon history landmarks lifestyles nature about us sources home


Residents of the Horace Williams House

Andy and the Ghost

Thomas Wolfe

Gimghoul Castle

Birds of a Feather

What's a Tar Heel?


UNC's First Computer

Manning Drive

Horace Williams House

HW House Residents   >

Area Street Names

Mount Mitchell


Swim Test

Need a Ride?


If it ain't Broke...

Joy in the Morning

Hinton James

A Noble Tradition?

Painting the Town Blue

Di and Phi Societies

The House named after Horace Williams was actually home to a number of colorful characters over the years. Two of the most memorable were Benjamin Sherwood Hetrick and Williams himself.

Benjamin Sherwood Hetrick
Perhaps most well known for the addition of the Octagon Room that serves as the major gallery since restoration of the Horace Williams House (built between 1852 and 1855), Benjamin Sherwood Hetrick has another notable distinction in University history. Professor Hedrick, a chemistry professor, was "denounced from nearly every pulpit in the state" and dismissed by the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees for his outspoken abolitionist stance in the antebellum period. His strong opposition to slavery in the years surrounding the Civil War led to his dismissal from the university, the only known firing of a faculty member at UNC for political reasons.

Horace Williams
Horace Williams, notably associated with the possibly haunted and certainly preservationally interesting Horace Williams House on Rosemary Street, was a color character in his own right. Several stories circulate about the man, who was the first person ever to be awarded an MA at UNC and founded the Department of Philosophy.

Upon his death in 1940, Williams owned more than 24 area properties, all of which he bequeathed to the University for the benefit of future philosophy students. Part of this collection of properties comprises the 963-acre Horace Williams tract slated to be used for the Carolina North project. However, in his day, Williams used the area to keep his livestock. Particularly obnoxious were the pigs, purchased for his wife on their anniversary, which he kept in his front and side yards.

Williams also refused to join the town's new sewer system, implemented in 1913 by then Chapel Hill Mayor L.P. McClendon. McClendon responded by arresting Williams and, when all was said and done, the house was united to the sewer system. The two never spoke again.

Williams's thriftiness was well-known. Legend has it that he was so cheap, he refused to buy a bathtub for his wife. Suffice it to say that while acting as a strong advocate for the University and education in general, Horace Williams' eccentric habits did not make him a community favorite, though many note that he was well-liked among students [13].

The Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill

All Text and Photos © 2004.