President's House to be Named in Honor of Douglas and Grace Knight

Douglas M. Knight was the first Duke president to live in the Presidents House


DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University's President's House will be renamed the Douglas M. and Grace Knight House on Friday 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 under the direction of architect Alden Dow, who interned under Frank Lloyd Wright. The house, 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.

Knight, Duke's president from 1963-69, and his wife chose Dow as the architect and worked "as a team" to help design the house. Knight said he and his wife are thrilled to be honored in this way.

"We called it University House. We never looked at it as simply the President's House," Knight said. "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, said former Duke trustee Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, the great granddaughter of Washington Duke, for whom the university is named.

"My husband and I are so happy about this. There are no people more dedicated to Duke and to each other than Grace and Doug Knight," Semans said. "This is a glorious tribute to them. And it is so right."

Several dozen close friends and colleagues of the Knights are expected to attend Friday's dedication ceremony, which will feature remarks by Knight and current Duke President Nannerl O. Keohane.