Phillips Law Office, c.1840

401 E. Franklin Street


Built around 1843, the Phillips Law Office is a quaint building that often goes unnoticed due to the scale of its surroundings. Built by Samuel Field Phillips, the Phillips Law Office housed his law practice (the first law office in Chapel Hill) and was used for numerous other purposes. As an assistant professor of law, Samuel Phillips, a UNC alumnus, used the space as a classroom during the period of 1854-1859. The Phillips Law Office also doubled as a preparatory school for boys. In 1867, Samuel Phillips became a professor of mathematics to fill the vacancy his father, James Phillips, left when he passed away. Samuel Phillips, a skilled lawyer who was also active in politics, went on to serve as Speaker of the House of Commons in the North Carolina Legislature. In 1872, he became solicitor general of the United States. As solicitor general, Phillips worked on the US Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896, which tried to make America “separate but equal.”