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Murphey Hall, built in 1924 and named after one of the first teachers of Classics at UNC, is the physical center of the department. Murphey houses the department’s main office, as well as the offices of all Classics faculty and the three graduate student offices. Murphey is also home to the B.L. Ullman Classics Library, a collection of several thousand books, including near-complete sets of Oxford Classical Texts, Teubner, Budé, and Loeb Classical Library volumes, as well as an extensive collection of journals, many of which were collected during the 35 years that UNC was the home of the American office of L’Année philologique. In addition, there is a common room lounge on the second floor in which Classics students may study, eat, and relax.

Construction on Murphey Hall began in 1922, and the building was put into service in 1924. There were no extensive renovations until 1962, when the auditorium (then MU 111) was renovated, one (presumably unintended ) consequence being the partial obstruction of the heating ducts in the auditorium. In 1975, the department moved from the first and second floors to the second and third. Some wall partitions were moved, the old slate blackboards were replaced with greenboards, window AC units were installed in many rooms, a new departmental library was created on the third floor, ceilings in the hallways were lowered in anticipation of the installation of central AC (which never came to pass), and lecture rooms with slide facilities and television monitors were created in the northwest and northeast corners of the first floor. Very little was done by way of maintenance from about 1985 on, once the decision was made to undertake a complete renovation of the building.

When the proposed renovations were postponed again and again, the building became gradually more and more shabby. The roof leaked, and water seeped into the walls, leading to the cracking of plaster and paint. One of the steam radiators burst, causing extensive damage to two faculty offices and the western staircase. By 2001, the building was in a serious state of disrepair. In 2001-2002 Murphey Hall underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and restoration project.

Athena in the Ullman Library
Ullman Library, Murphey Hall (D. Haggis, 2001)
A typical classroom in Murphey prior to renovations
Seminar room, Murphey Hall (D. Haggis, 2001)
George Houston, then chair, reclines in the department
George Houston in chair’s office, Murphey Hall (D. Haggis, 2001)
Peter Smith enters a room that highlights the modified doorways and internal architecture
Peter Smith in Classics department Common room, Murphey Hall (D. Haggis, 2001)
A view of a Murphey hallway as it once was
Murphey Hall, west end of first floor hallway (D. Haggis, 2001)