He donated land that became the Duke campus. Now historians want his name off building.

Julian Carr
Julian Carr

Correction: A previous version of this story contained an error misstating the significance of Raymond Gavins at Duke University. The story has been updated to say he was the first African-American on faculty in the university’s history department.

DURHAM — Duke University’s history department has asked the Board of Trustees to rename Carr Building, a building on East Campus named after industrialist and philanthropist Julian Carr.

Carr served on the Board of Trustees of Trinity College, which was later renamed Duke University. The three-story brick building was dedicated to Julian Carr in 1930. The history department is based there.

John Martin, history department chairman, told The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper, the department wants Carr’s name replaced with Raymond Gavins, the history department’s first African-American on faculty. The department made its request just before the first day of classes on Monday, the paper reported. Gavins died in 2016.

“The history department believes that the proposed change, which we have thoughtfully considered, is in keeping with the highest educational ideals and mission of the University,” Martin wrote in statement to The News & Observer.

In the spring, the department voted unanimously to recommend to the Board of Trustees that the building be renamed the Gavins Building, Martin said in an email. The department has now forwarded that recommendation to the Board of Trustees.

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Carr attended UNC-Chapel Hill and served in the Confederate Army. His donation of land known as Blackwell Park allowed then Trinity College to be moved from Randolph County to Durham, according to the university.

Silent Sam speech

Carr’s name and Silent Sam, the Confederate statue that until last week stood on a pedestal on UNC’s campus, are intertwined. In 1913, when Silent Sam, also known as the Confederate Monument, was completed, Carr was the last to speak at the dedication ceremony.

He spoke about his return to Chapel Hill after the war.

“I horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady, and then rushed for protection to these university buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 federal soldiers,” according to Carr’s written speech.

“I performed the pleasing duty in the immediate presence of the entire garrison, and for thirty nights afterwards slept with a double-barrel shotgun under my head.”

In a statement to The News & Observer, Michael Schoenfeld, Duke’s vice president for public affairs, said the request is being reviewed under the guidelines established last year for assessing the appropriateness of memorials and renaming buildings on campus.

Lee statue removed

Last year, Duke President Vincent Price ordered the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Duke Chapel after vandals chipped his nose and other parts of his face.

Shortly after the removal, Price established the Commission on Memory and History to make a recommendation on a replacement for the statue and to have a discussion about other memorials on campus. The space where Lee’s statue once stood will remain vacant.’

At least one university in the Triangle has renamed a building on campus.

Prompted by the demands of student activists at UNC, the UNC Board of Trustees voted to rename Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall in 2015. The building was originally named after William Saunders, a 19th-century UNC graduate, who historians believe was a member and organizer of the Ku Klux Klan.

And at N.C. Central University, a history student started a petition last year to rename the Hoey Administration Building, which honors former Gov. Clyde Hoey, who was a segregationist.

Camila Molina: 919-829-4538, @Cmolina__
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