CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, the original version of this story misrepresented the history of UNC's property at 620 Park Place. The home at Park Place was built to house faculty returning from World War I. The story has been updated to reflect these changes.
Likely unknown to most residents of Chapel Hill, UNC owns 21 properties dotted around the county. Some of these properties have histories stretching back decades — others simply have interesting stories.
For example, 620 Park Place is a well-known town fixture. The home was built by the University in the 1920s to house faculty returning from World War I. Since then, it has housed various individuals closely associated with the town and the University, including Francis Bradshaw, the dean of students from 1920-25, and Edwin Lanier, who was the mayor of Chapel Hill from 1949-54.
The home on Park Place is the last of its kind. In the 1970s, the University tore down the other Park Place homes in the “Baby Hollow” neighborhood to build a parking lot, but after a battle between the Chapel Hill Preservation Society and the University in the 1980s, the house is still standing.
The current tenant, Fred Kiger, is a lecturer on the American Civil War for the UNC General Alumni Association. When he first noticed the house, he didn’t get the impression he would ever be able to live there, despite his interest.
“This place was a little bungalow that caught my eye many, many years ago, and I always immediately dismissed the possibility that someone might live there,” Kiger said.
Kiger said he later met Bruce Runberg, then the associate vice chancellor for facilities services, at one of his lectures. Runberg mentioned the house was owned by the University, and Kiger eventually contacted the property office and got his name on a list.
Six years later, he was contacted about his interest in the property and by the summer of 2012, he was a tenant.