Preservation Chapel Hill

History of the Horace Williams House

The Horace Williams House was built in 1854 by Benjamin Hedrick. Professor of Analytical and Agricultural Chemistry at the University, Hedrick purchased the property as a home for his wife Mary Ellen, and their two young sons. He envisioned a distinctive octagonal structure and hired Hillsborough builder John Berry to construct the house. The home was completed in 1855, and the Hedricks moved in. 

The House went through several owners and renovations before finally passing into the ownership of Horace Williams in 1897. Williams was the last private owner of the home. He was the Chair of Mental and Moral Science (Philosophy) at the University, and students shared a great admiration for him.  Williams remained at the University for half a century, and on his death in 1940 bequeathed all his property to the University. The house became a rental for professors and their families, until its gradually deteriorated condition attracted the attention of Preservation Chapel Hill.

The House is operated and maintained by Preservation Chapel Hill as an example of adaptive reuse. The only historic house open the public in Chapel Hill, the building serves as the organization's offices, as well as providing meeting and event space, art exhibitions, and public education programs.