Let's Take a Closer Look at the Homes That Football Built in the Southeastern Conference
In the Southeastern Conference, where football is king, everyone talks football 365 days a year. And with good reason. Five of the SEC teams – University of Alabama, University of Georgia, University of Tennessee, Louisiana State University, and Mississippi State University – won their post-season Bowl gamesin 2016, and the University of Alabama is competed in the National College Football Championship – the Super Bowl of College Football – in January 2017.
Back at their home states, SEC university presidents are as busy as the football programs in working to attract top talent. With limited state funding, university presidents now spend a lot of time raising funds for their programs and curriculum. The best way to do that is to entertain dignitaries, alumni, government officials – and what better place for that than a wonderful and classic home in the middle of all the campus action.
Let’s look at where some SEC University presidents call home.
1. Alabama (Crimson Tide), Winner of the Peach Bowl
Alabama football is king in this neck of the woods – at least this year as the #1 ranked team prepares to play in the National College Footbal Championship – and the university president's house is likely in the thick of the campus activity. Nestled in a wooded area on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa is a historic Greek Revival mansion that has served as the official residence of its presidents. Designed by architect Michael Barry, the building was completed in 1841 and was first occupied by Basil Manly, Sr., the second president of the University. It’s now home to Dr. Stuart Bell - the 29th president – and his family.
President's Mansion on the campus of the University of Alabama is an elegant and imposing structure with the six tall round columns, the staircase that leads to the front porch on the second floor, and the archways on the ground floor.
The three-story home is one of the oldest surviving buildings on the university’s campus. During the Civil War, Union soldiers under the command of Colonel Thomas Johnson were ordered to destroy all public buildings in Tuscaloosa. Almost all of the buildings were torched, including the library rotunda.
No exception was going to be made for President’s Mansion – until Louisa Frances Garland, the university president’s wife, stepped in, just as the soldiers were about to burn a pile of furniture inside the house. Mrs. Garland convinced the soldiers to spare the home. And, incredibly, they listened and preserved the residence.
Over the years, President’s Mansion has undergone a series of renovations. As it stands today, the home features a wonderfully landscaped courtyard entry, tall trees and shrubs, a brick-stucco exterior façade, six huge marble pillars and a double staircase to the upper floors. There is a garden and smaller buildings in the backyard.
Detailed workmanship is on display in the winding staircase and ceiling mural inside the President's Mansion.
In 1972, the mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and historical significance.
If you love Southern hospitality and comfort, take a look at this 2-story, 4-bedroom Colonial style home plan with a covered front porch, Juliet balcony and four matching large columns. There’s a Great Room, study, and master suite on the main level (House Plan #178-1034).
2. Arkansas (Razorbacks)
At the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, a two-story, 5,000-square-foot Jeffersonian style home located on one end of a 40-acre property is the official residence of its president, Dr. Donald Bobbitt and his family. On the south end of the beautiful tract of land is the administration building, which includes the office of the president and the university’s administrative staff.
Centrally located in Little Rock, President Donald Bobbitt’s home is a classic Jeffersonian style design – with the red brick exterior façade, a portico, big columns, and white trim.
The land was donated to the university in 1957 by the late Kate Cammack, a prominent Little Rock resident, who wanted it earmarked for educational and cultural programs. The “Cammack Campus” became a reality when the president’s home was constructed in 1995 and the administration building in 1997.
Today, the President’s home on North University Avenue is also a place for university functions.
You don’t have to be a university president to own this classic 2-story, 4-bedroom Georgian style home. It features a formal living room, family room, two fireplaces – one in the master suite – and French doors that open to a screened porch (House Plan #146-2292)
3. Auburn (Tigers)
A refurbished two-story, five-bedroom traditional Colonial on Mell Street in Auburn, Alabama, has been home since 2007 for Dr. Jay Gogue, Auburn University’s president and his wife, Susie.
Built in 1938 for $38,412, the 6,750-square-foot home was the first project funded by the Public Works Administration. Designed by Warren, Knight and Davis (Birmingham, Alabama), the official residence was first occupied by President Luther Duncan. Since then, seven Auburn University presidents have lived in the home. Wilford Bailey, who served from 1983 to 1984, only used the residence for social functions.
The original President’s home at Auburn University was built in 1938.
When the Gogues moved into their official residence in 2007, the board set up a committee to work with Susie Gogue to renovate the home – and spruce it up for all the functions that involve dignitaries, alumni, faculty, school staff, and students. A new porch was added at the end of the house. Then, a 4,500-square-foot pavilion that looks into the formal garden was built for major university events held at the president’s home. Additional rest rooms were constructed on the first floor, including two handicapped-accessible ones.
While all the renovations bring the home into the 21st century, the designers managed to maintain the classic character of the home and enhance its clean and elegant lines.
Top: The new porch at the President’s home opens into the beautifully landscaped formal garden. Bottom: Next to the garden is the pavilion, which is used as a dining and entertainment venue.
Open the doors of this gorgeous 2-story, four-bedroom Colonial style home plan – similar to the Auburn residence – and walk into a foyer that leads to a very spacious Great Room (dining/family room/kitchen/breakfast area) and a master suite on the main level. (House Plan #170-2549)
Dasburg President’s House, named in honor of the Key Biscayne alumnus who provided majority of the funding, is a gated two-story brick and limestone home.
The original president’s house, which had not been occupied since 2006 when former UF president Bernie Machen bought a home off-campus, has undergone renovations and will be used as a venue for events.
The 7,440-square-foot Dasburg House – located in the heart of the UF campus – is a dream home for Kent and Linda Fuchs. It is energy-efficient, has all the modern amenities, including a media room with a large flat-screen TV where the family, guests, and faculty can watch UF games. The first floor – designated as public space - features a foyer, formal living room with an electric fireplace, two kitchens, and elevator. The second floor with the bedrooms, including the master suite, is the private living quarters of the family. Here, the Fuchses have infused their personal touches, bringing in a piano, a gift from Kent’s father, and a number of decorative pieces made by Mrs. Fuchs.
Overall, not bad for a new president.
5. Georgia (Bulldogs), Winner of the Liberty Bowl
A Greek Revival home on the University of Georgia's campus (similar to that on Alabama's campus) is the official residence of its president. Jere W. Morehead – the first University of Georgia alumnus to be named president in more than 45 years – has called the Benjamin H. Hill House home for the past three years. Located at 570 Prince Avenue in Athens, Georgia, it is one of the oldest buildings in the city – and since 1972, has been listed on the Clarke County National register of Historic Places.
The two-story traditional Greek Revival home – the official residence of University of Georgia presidents since 1949 – features a gorgeous front garden with shade trees and shrubbery, a second floor balcony, and a huge portico extending to the sides of the house.
The house was built in 1856 by alumnus John T. Grant and changed ownership several times. Benjamin H. Hill, a U.S. Representative and Confederate senator from Georgia, bought the house in 1876; it was then sold in 1883 to James White, founder of the National Bank of Athens, who passed it on to his daughter W.F. Bradshaw. When the Bradley Foundation of Columbus acquired the property in 1949, it was donated to the University of Georgia – and has since been the mansion designated for its presidents.
In 2001, former UGA president Michael Adams vacated the house – with permission from the Board of Regents. The house underwent a million-dollar renovation in 2010. Three years later, it was ready for Jere Morehead, who is required to live there during his tenure.
Contract or not – who wouldn’t love to live in this beautiful, spacious home with its front and back gardens, a grand staircase worthy of Scarlett O’Hara, balcony, rear porch, furnished sitting rooms, guest rooms, master suite, catering kitchen, and a basement for informal entertaining?
Top: A landscaped front garden is a warm and welcoming sight for guests and alumni. Bottom: The basement is the place where students and staff can watch Georgia Bulldog games and special events with President Morehead.
6. Kentucky (Wildcats)
Dr. Eli Capilouto – the 12th president of the University of Kentucky – his wife, Mary Lynne, and their daughter have lived at Maxwell Place, the University’s President’s home, since 2011.
Maxwell Place, residence of University of Kentucky Presidents since 1918, is located on a 13.5-acre tract at 471 Rose Street in Lexington.
Maxwell Place was purchased after the Civil War by Dennis Mulligan, an Irish immigrant who later became a prominent businessman and politician in Lexington. In 1872, he hired architects to construct a two-and-half story Italianate Villa as a wedding gift for his son Judge James Hillary Mulligan and his bride, Mary Jackson. It was called Maxwell Place for the springs located on the property.
The house has been renovated and expanded through the years. In 1917, the University of Kentucky bought the estate for $40,000 and did extensive renovations that included enclosures at the rear of the house and a long pergola leading from the front driveway to the tower vestibule.
Since 1918, when Dr. Frank L. McVey became the first University of Kentucky president to reside at Maxwell Place, it has been home to its 12 presidents; and in 1982 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
7. University of Missouri (Mizzou Tigers)
For more than 40 years, Providence Point – a 12,630-square-foot hilltop mansion in Columbia – has been the official dwelling of the presidents at the University of Missouri. Until President Tim Wolfe and his wife moved out of the estate in 2013 – and received an allowance to live in another home. In the meantime, upgrades to the roof and exterior siding were made and outdoor lighting was installed.
Providence Point – a luxury mansion spread over more than 12,000 sq. ft. of space and surrounded by woods – served as the official residence of the presidents at the University of Missouri until 2014.
The mansion has four bedrooms, eight bathrooms, four fireplaces, a number of dining and living rooms, and other areas that were used as offices and exercise space. There’s a swimming pool, deck, rooftop patio, and wooded area around the property. A spiral staircase leads to a spacious second floor bedroom.
Several university presidents who lived at Providence Point made renovations to the home, including kitchen and security system upgrades. The University system reportedly spent close to $90,000 to remove wallpaper, improve wiring, and bring railings and ramps up to code.
Today, Providence Point has been opened to university organizations and business and community groups for their special events and other functions. There are conflicting reports on whether the University of Missouri’s current president Dr. Mun Choi will be living at Providence Point – or, like the previous president, receive a subsidy for an off-campus home.
8. South Carolina (Gamecocks)
Originally constructed in 1810 for faculty housing, the Regency style house located in the historic Horseshoe at the University of South Carolina underwent several changes before becoming the official President’s House. Torn down in 1853 because of water damage, it was rebuilt in 1854 in the Regency style of architecture and continued to be used as a faculty house until the 1940s. It was then designated as a women’s residence. It wasn’t until the 1950s that it became the President’s House.
The President’s House on the historic Horseshoe on the campus of the University of South Carolina in Columbia was a former duplex renovated into a single home.
In 1952, President-designate Donald S. Russell paid for the extensive reconstruction to convert the three-story faculty duplex into a single residence. Stairwells, porches, a downstairs library, and a reception room on the second floor were added. After the renovations, President Russell and his wife moved into the house.
Since then the home has hosted visiting government officials and foreign dignitaries, including Pope John Paul II in 1987.
Today, Dr. Harris Pastides – USC’s current president – and his wife, Patricia Moore-Pastides, live in the house on the historic Horseshoe.
Much like the University of South Carolina’s President’s House, this elegant 2-story, 4-bedroom Southern style home plan features symmetrical windows on both floors, a covered porch, and several verandas (House Plan #106-1297)
9. Vanderbilt (Bulldogs)
At Vanderbilt University, we take a look at Dr. Vanessa Beasley’s residence, a lovely two-story home with a porch and second floor balcony in the center of the campus. Dean Beasley is the head of The Ingram Commons, the university's new campus-within-a-campus for first-year Vanderbilt students, which was established in 2008. The Commons aims to integrate “living and learning, building community among students and professors from highly diverse backgrounds….” There are 1,600 first-year students who live together in The Ingram Commons – 10 houses with a Faculty Head who has an apartment in one of the houses and serves as a mentor.
The Dean’s Residence at Vanderbilt University’s Ingram Commons features a portico with four white columns and long windows with white paint trim.
Dean Beasley and her family (husband, Trey, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Treasury / University Treasurer at Vanderbilt, and their two sons) occupy the second floor private living quarters. Social events, receptions, and other university functions are conducted in the first floor living room. Dean Beasley normally hosts get-togethers for residents of the Commons and their faculty heads.
Whether it’s College Football season or not, these homes are perfect for entertaining and top-level strategy sessions to attract supporters, faculty, and the best prospects.
Note: While there are confirmed official residences for the top “honchos” at the universities mentioned above, the presidents of Louisiana State (winner of the Citrus Bowl), Ole Miss, Mississippi State (winner of the St. Petersburg Bowl), Tennessee (winner of the Music City Bowl), and Texas A&M have private homes that are quite often subsidized by the university.