A Knight to Remember

June 1, 2003
resident's House: honoring its first residents

 President's House: honoring its first residents

 

The President's House has been renamed the Douglas M. and Grace Knight House to honor the achievements of Duke's fifth president. Douglas Knight was the first Duke president to live in the President's House, which was completed in September 1966. The house, located less than a mile from campus at 1508 Pinecrest Road, has been used as a family home and to entertain official guests of the university.

The President's House was built under the direction of architect Alden Dow, who interned under Frank Lloyd Wright. Knight, Duke's president from 1963 to 1969, and his wife, Grace, chose Dow as the architect and worked "as a team" to help design the house, Knight says. "We called it University House. We never looked at it as simply the President's House. We designed it to serve a major public function, which was that of being the host to many university functions, and, at the same time, to have some qualities of privacy."

Knight, who recently published his memoir, The Dancer and the Dance, is credited with numerous achievements during his Duke presidency. He guided curricular revisions in several schools, oversaw a growing number of contributions in gifts and grants, secured funding for a School of Business Administration, and presided over major building projects, including the nation's first hyperbaric oxygenation chamber and an addition to Perkins Library.

The renaming of the house is a fitting tribute, says former Duke trustee Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans '39, the great-granddaughter of Washington Duke. "There are no people more dedicated to Duke and to each other as Grace and Doug Knight," Semans says. "This is a glorious tribute to them. And it is so right."