Skip to main content

Buchan House

What was once old has been made new again.

Built in 1966 as the Chapel Hill Public Library, the building is now the home of the Arts and Sciences Foundation, the fundraising arm for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Named for R. Duke Buchan III ’85 and his family, the building, located at 523 E. Franklin St., will be known as Buchan House, in honor of their generosity to the College and the University.

A dedication ceremony earlier this fall brought together University officials, including Chancellor Carol Folt and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Kevin Guskiewicz, members of the Foundation’s board of directors, staff, neighbors and friends (and Hurricane Matthew).

“The opening of Buchan House as the new home of the Arts and Sciences Foundation is an occasion that inspires and evokes our gratitude to our benefactors, who give so generously to Carolina,” Foundation executive director Rob Parker said. “My appreciation of Duke and (his wife) Hannah and what they’ve done is deepened by the fact that it is the ‘work of gratitude’ that will take place in this building.”

Buchan, a Henderson, N.C., native, and founder and CEO of private investment firm Hunter Global Investors, earned his B.A. in economics and Spanish from UNC in 1985. Buchan earned his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1991. He and Hannah have three children and live in Palm Beach, Fla.  He is vice chair of the Arts and Sciences Foundation Board of Directors, a member of the Chancellor’s Philanthropic Council and a member of the University’s Campaign Planning Cabinet.

A 10th-generation North Carolinian, his love for UNC runs deep. In a recent letter written for the Foundation’s Annual Fund to alumni, he wrote:

“Growing up on a farm in rural Vance County, N.C., I was obsessed with everything Carolina. The walls, curtains and carpet in my room were Carolina Blue.  My favorite shirt was Carolina Blue. My favorite socks were Carolina Blue. My favorite architectural masterpiece was the Old Well. My favorite basketball player was Phil Ford. My first dog was named Tar Heel. My favorite song was, and still is, James Taylor’s ‘Carolina in My Mind.’ I thought my blood was actually Carolina Blue.”

In 2011, Buchan established the Buchan Excellence Fund in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. The fund is one of the largest single endowments dedicated to support faculty, graduate students and undergraduates working in Spanish languages, literature and culture. His desire to support this field of study stemmed from his study abroad experience at La Universidad de Sevilla in Seville, Spain, and La Universidad de Valencia in Valencia, Spain. He also supports the Arts and Sciences Annual Fund.

As an example of his wide-ranging interests that reflect a liberal arts education in addition to a successful business career, Buchan is passionate about fresh, organic produce and farm-to-table cuisine. His family’s farm, Longfield Farm, grows more than 60 varieties of organic, heirloom tomatoes. His children are learning to follow in their father’s footsteps of business, too—they sell those tomatoes at an area farm stand and local restaurants.

“Hannah and I knew that we’d support the College with our time and our gifts,” he said. “But we saw an opportunity to leverage our giving into something bigger—to create a space where the Foundation could best do its work of increasing private giving to the College.”

Buchan House sits on the corner of Franklin and Boundary streets. The property has a history dating to the founding of the University in 1793. John Caldwell, a planter, purchased the lot where the Foundation building now stands. The land was one of the original lots in the village of Chapel Hill. Houses built on the site served as homes for town citizens for more than a century. Chi Omega called the location home for 10 years in the 1920s-1930s. The current structure was built in 1966 to house the Chapel Hill Public Library. After the library moved to a new location in 1994, the Chapel Hill Museum and the Chapel Hill Historical Society shared the space. The Arts and Sciences Foundation purchased the building in 2014.

The 13,000-square-foot building was designed by Don Stewart (M.A. regional planning ’59), an area architect highly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright. He is also known for designing Carmichael Auditorium. Area firms completed the renovations. Weinstein Friedlein Architects designed the renovation, which preserved the historical aspects of the building, including the exterior and interior fixtures, and creating a mid-century modern aesthetic to harken back to the building’s roots. Bringing the project full circle, Durham firm C.T. Wilson Construction was the renovation contractor. Founder of the firm, Charles T. Wilson Sr. was the original contractor in 1966.

Founded in 1975, the Arts and Sciences Foundation’s mission is to enhance the College of Arts and Sciences by meeting the needs of the various academic departments, promoting teaching, research and service, and supporting the continuing development of knowledge and learning. In the past fiscal year, the Foundation helped raise more than $68 million in support of faculty, students and programs in the College.

The Foundation has been housed in several historic campus buildings since its creation. Foundation offices have been in Caldwell Hall, built in 1912, and New West, built in the 1850s. Prior to moving into the new location, from 1997 to 2016 the Foundation was at 134 East Franklin Street, constructed in the early 1900s.

In addition to 30 Foundation employees, eight members of the Office of Arts and Sciences Information Services (OASIS) staff also work in Buchan House.

by Mary Moorefield

Comments are closed.