Whither West House

OK, I'll admit I haven't been paying much attention on this issue - so what's the big deal with the West House? Now I read in the Chapel Hill News that State Senator Ellie Kinnaird is wading into this battle. She may not be the heaviest hitter in Raleigh, but she's the best Senator in the State, if you ask me. So this made my ears perk up.

Kinnaird and other supporters of the preservation effort hope to persuade the university to leave the house where it is and turn it into a sort of welcome center for visitors to the university -- or, failing that, to move it intact to another site on campus...

West House is a small structure built in 1935 by a textile magnate as a residence for his sons while they attended UNC. When it was built, it marked the far western edge of campus -- hence its name -- and now it stands just south of Hanes Art Center, where a new music building, a key component in the university's planned Arts Common, is due to be built.
- Chapel Hill News, 8/8/04



Is it out with the old, in with the new at UNC? Thank goodness the old Morrison dorm will still stand and not be razed. West House has charm, history, and can be used as a welcome center for UNC. The oldest University in the land should not destroy parts of its history because it is a little more costly to preserve.

Heaven knows West House is ten thousand times more charming than Morrison. As to historic importance, how historic is West House really, and how useful? Frankly I'll be saddened not to see it there personally, but I've never had reason to go there and don't know of anyone who has. I probably know fewer people who gave up their virginity in West House than in Morrison...

Seriously, I'd get in front of a bulldozer without the presence of cameras if necessary to save Battle Park, or Old Playmakers I suspect. But do we need to save some rich kid's playhouse? Why not auction it off among the University fatcats and let one of them set it up in the backyard like London Bridge?

I can't wait to see how Memorial Hall turns out, and I'm proud to have public money in it because it's a public resource. I don't see any public good to be derived from a lovely brick cottage, as opposed to a Music building that doesn't have to keep priceless manuscripts in the basement. Well O.K., the manuscripts have finally been moved. But Hill Hall is downright Frankensteinian.

Anyhow, I'm glad to see there's concern over the sudden removal of University landmarks. Nevertheless I'm still concerned by the fate of the Hudson/McDade house, a project whose outcome seems both dire and pointless.

So my long-winded question: am I missing something? Did somebody sign something in West House? Is there a hundred-year-old rose bush in a pocket-sized courtyard? Does the University desperately need a warm, human-scale spot to introduce visitors to the campus? I didn't hear in time for the public meeting; so if anybody knows, please don't hide it!

I'll introduce myself, Rah: I'm George Entenman. Now you know someone who spent a year as a grad student in West House, back in the early 70's.

When I shared the back office with another student, the rest of West House consisted of dark cubicles along a dark hall. Our office was the best place to be because it had a door onto the garden, which is just beautiful and very peaceful.

But I also have trouble getting worked up about West House's demise. Surely it has some historical value, although I never found out what it was while I worked there.

Maybe the University should threaten to destroy lots of other historical buildings. That way, we'd periodically have a chance to learn about their history. Otherwise, we rarely do.


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.