Horace Williams House, c.1854

610 E. Rosemary Street

 

Hillsborough architect, John Berry, built the Horace Williams House in 1854. Berry also constructed the historic Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough as well as Smith Hall (Historic Playmaker’s Theatre) on UNC’s campus. Built in numerous stages, the home’s most distinct feature is its Octagon Room. The book, A Home For All, by Orson Squire Fowler, likely inspired the design of this room. Fowler, who wrote on marital happiness, stated that the shape could, “save a large and stirring family…a number of steps.” The Horace Williams House was originally the home of Benjamin Hedrick, his wife, and two children. Hedrick, a UNC alumnus, joined the staff of the University to head the newly formed Department of Agricultural Chemistry. Other notable residents include UNC professor H. Hosea Smith and UNC President George T. Winston, who purchased the property in 1879. The home got its name from its last private owner, Henry Horace Williams. Horace Williams purchased the home in 1897 when appointed as the Chair of Mental and Moral Science (Philosophy). Town residents enjoyed Horace Williams’ eccentric personality and students appreciated him teaching them how to think, rather than what to think. When Horace Williams died, he donated all of his property to the University of North Carolina, who still owns the home today.