Built in 1924, Murphey Hall is named in honor of Archibald De Bow Murphey, a lawyer, University of North Carolina graduate and professor, and politician who was a North Carolina Senator from 1812 to 1818. Murphey Hall now houses the Classics and Religious Studies departments.
Archibald De Bow Murphey graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1799, and right after graduation, he went on to teach ancient languages at the university as a professor of Classics. He later became a lawyer and then served as a North Carolina Senator from 1812 to 1818. Murphey is known as the ‘Father of Public Education,’ because he strived to improve public education in North Carolina.
Additionally, Murphey sought to make North Carolina more independent by improving the transportation system through new canals, roads, ship ports, and local transportation. Without engineering skills, time and money, the plan didn’t succeed.
Vera Millsaps writes of Murphey:
“Murphey had the power to dream and conceive great plans, but not the engineering ability to execute, and so having to depend upon others with lesser intellectual ability, his scheme was doomed to failure for lack of men with sufficient foresight and intellectual grasp to transform his dreams into realities.” 7
Murphey aimed to write the history of North Carolina, and this earned him the name of North Carolina’s first native historian. Although unfinished, he continued his work throughout his life. He died on February 1, 1832.
Originally constructed as part of a set of buildings that formed a quad, Murphey Hall served as a wing building on the side of Manning Hall, with Saunders Hall as the other wing building. The building progressed into disrepair by 1953. The first of the renovations made on Murphey Hall was in 1962. Damages occurred often and repairs were needed regularly. However, Murphey Hall underwent major renovations in 2001 and 2002 that updated classroom technology and overall building structure.