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Interview with Mark H. Wagoner, July 22, 2003 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Mark H. Wagoner, July 22, 2003
July 22, 2003
Mark H. Wagoner is the son of William Hampton Wagoner, the first chancellor of UNCW and the last president of Wilmington College. Dr. William Wagoner was president of Wilmington College from 1968-1969, and then UNCW Chancellor from 1969-1989. Mark talks about growing up in the Kenan House, where he resided from 1968-1989. He tells anecdotes about the house, including stories about guests, family life, and home repairs. Mark has many memories of what it was like to grow up in the big rambling mansion on the corner of Market and 17th Streets. Kenan House is state-owned and is the home of the university Chancellor and his or her family.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Wagoner, Mark H. Interviewer: Riggins, Adina / Hayes, Sherman Date of Interview: 7/22/2003 Series:

Voices of UNCW Length: 120 minutes

Hayes: Okay, today is July 22nd and we're with Mark Wagoner, interviewing Mark Wagoner and we're at Randall Library

in the Helen Hagan [ph?] room and my name is Sherman Hayes University Librarian and our other interviewer is Adina

Riggins who is university archivist. And we start today just for the formal record, if you could give us your full

name and birth date.

Wagoner: Mark Hampton Wagoner uh...May 28, 1968.

Hayes: 1968, yea.

Riggins: Same year as me.

Hayes: Same year as you. That's interesting. Well, I don't even want to go into where that is in my life. I was out

of high school by then let's put it that way.

Riggins: Wow.

Hayes: Mark, today we want to talk about you and lots of interesting uh...stories and history but as an

introduction to people listening uh...particularly we're interested in your tenure as a resident of Kenan House and

uh...why don't you explain to them your relationship to President Wagoner.

Wagoner: Well, President Wagoner was my father.

Hayes: Okay.

Wagoner: And he became Chancellor Wagoner when the university was incorporated to the UNC system and uh...uhm...I

grew up in Kenan House, which was given to... to the university by uh...the Kenan family and uhm...we were the

first family to live there. I guess I was six months old when we moved in.

Hayes: So, your memory of that probably is limited (inaudible)?

Wagoner: No, I have some very old memories...

Hayes: Oh, good tell us.

Wagoner: ... but I don't remember moving. I remember the first... the first memory I really... the first memory I

have pretty much of anything is that uh...there was something I did not like. There was... I remember

being very, very, very upset about something the room where my crib was and uh...I don't know. All I

remember was that was... my first memory was not a happy one. It was not. It was... I was just mad about something.

I don't know what it was but uhm...yeah, I grew up there uhm...

Hayes: Now, tell us a little bit about uh...for the people listening the, Kenan House uh...a general description of

it, I mean, you know, so because, you know, of course you now are an adult and look back on it.

Wagoner: Right.

Hayes: I don't... we'll go back later.

Wagoner: Sure.

Hayes: But, you know, what do we mean by the Kenan House? I mean that's uh...

Wagoner: it's the... the chancellor's residence. It's on the corner of 17th and Market. It uhm...when it

was built it was was in what they call the Mansion District uhm...and that was kind of out... out in the

boonies back then. Uh...Wilmington was... was much, much smaller when it was built and's used... it's...

it's the private residence of the chancellor and it's used for's used for entertaining...

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: ... and parties and... and things like that uh...

Hayes: But it's a big old, big old rambling mansion with huge grounds and uh...

Wagoner: Oh, yeah.

Hayes: forth and we're going to speak about some of the rooms but I think we want to make, set the setting

that this is not a three-bedroom ranch. This is a... this is built in the what, 1920s?

Wagoner: 1920s I believe.

Hayes: 1920s and the Kenans were uh...a wealthy, wealthy family.

Wagoner: Right.

Hayes: And so it was uh...decorated and so forth in a style of the wealthy of that time period.

Wagoner: Right.

Hayes: And then the family donated it to the university and from your... not from your own memory but from stories

was it fixed up before you got... I mean when... you know what did your folks think of it when they went in there

was it a...

Wagoner: It was... it was very drab. It was very uhm...a lot of... well, a good example is like the kitchen area

because when the Kenans lived there uhm...the... the owners would not go in the kitchen. They wouldn't wake up in

the middle of the night and fix a sandwich. That was where the servants, they would take care of that but it was

very drab. It was also was also very hot in there. It didn't have central air was steam heat.

Hayes: Really? Oh, gosh.

Wagoner: Uhm...and uhm...I believe it was John Burney [ph?] uh...was in the state legislature at the time

uh...and this was probably 1970 I'm thinking, and he came down and uh...there was a reception there and it was...

it was like in July or August and it was sweltering apparently. And he said "This is ridiculous. We need to... the

state needs to appropriate the money to have... have the uh...have central heating and air put in." But the

interesting thing about that is Kenan House burned and I don't know the exact date but that's...

Hayes: '30s sometime.

Wagoner: In the '30s right and uh...Mrs. Kenan, Sarah Graham Kenan uhm...was terrified of fire uh...from that point

on. She was absolutely just... just... it was... it was almost like a... a phobia of hers. And so what she did was

uh...had... had an architectural and engineering firm design at that... at that time would have been the most

fireproof house so... so I've heard in North Carolina and so what happened was they rebuilt it but it's... it's all

concrete. It's all masonry on the inside and so anything on the... on the... any decoration that one might see or

anything is plaster work over masonry.

Hayes: Interesting.

Wagoner: And so uhm...getting back to the... to the uh...putting in the... the HVAC system, the heating and

ventilation system, it was bid on because it was a state-owned house and uhm...the company that actually installed

it went bankrupt because they had to bring jackhammers in the house. I can... my parents actually left and went to

Europe and I can barely remember them putting this thing in but they... they uh...they actually brought in these

big, huge, pneumatic jackhammers to have to jackhammer through...

Hayes: Interesting.

Wagoner: ... get the... the ductwork in. Uhm...and couldn't... you couldn't decide you

wanted to hang a picture. See, I can remember the first time I saw drywall and I... I thought it was really odd

that... that... I remember I was... I was at a party at a friend's house and I remember leaning up against the wall

and the wall gave a little bit and so I like knocked on it and it was hollow and I was like oh my goodness what is


Hayes: That's interesting.

Wagoner: But uhm...

Riggins: So their interior walls were also masonry.

Wagoner: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Riggins: Wow.

Wagoner: It's... it's really... the... the uh...they's pretty interesting about the... the whole

fire too because Kenan House is... I really don't know, I'm trying to think of... of something to compare it to so

far as what... I'm trying to think of a house that might be... it's colonial style but I'm trying to think of... of

something that's kind of in the, I don't know, popular uh...well, anyhow.

Hayes: Yeah.

Wagoner: I'm probably getting ahead of myself. I'm kind of...

Hayes: That's all right. Tell us about who the family... what... what was your extended family at the... through

the... through the life of it. Were you the only child or brothers and sisters or...

Wagoner: No, I had two... two older uh...brothers uhm...rather estranged. They... they're much older than I and

uhm...uhm...they uh...they... I think one would be in his 50s now I suppose uh...and the other one is close,

probably in his mid to late 40s.

Hayes: And they didn't live in the house?

Wagoner: They lived... they lived there off and on. My... my oldest brother uhm...was probably may 14 at the time

when we moved in but he went to uh...the School of the Arts in Winston-Salem and so you finish, apparently you can

finish up high school there.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: And uhm...and so he left at 15 and would come back to visit but never really lived there.

Hayes: Yeah, so he never lived there.

Wagoner: my oldest brother, I mean my uh...middle brother uhm...lived there off and on. He... I guess

he was probably... he probably had just... just started high school maybe. I'm trying to think when he graduated.

Hayes: Yeah.

Wagoner: But uh...

Hayes: That gives a perspective. And then your mom what is her name?

Wagoner: My mom's name is uh...Madeline Hodges Wagoner [ph?] and my father's name is William Hampton

Wagoner and they both grew up in... in and around uh...a town called Little Washington, North Carolina which is up

uh...about, probably about an hour north of New Bern uhm...and probably the... the closest... it wasn't actually

Little Washington. It was a place called Pactolus [ph?] uhm...and there was a little high school named Pactolus

High School.

Hayes: Good.

Wagoner: And father was born May 12th, 1927 and mother was born uh...February 2nd uh...1932.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: And uhm...

Hayes: And I think for the record uh...a long and distinguished tenure as president and chancellor was your father

and he retired in uh...

Wagoner: '89 I believe, '89.

Hayes: In '89 right and served as emeritus after that and...

Wagoner: Yeah, he did.

Hayes: And both of them have...

Wagoner: Both of them have passed on.

Hayes: ... passed recently and I mean...

Wagoner: Recently within... within the past few years. My father, not that anyone is interested, my father died

uhm...from congestive heart failure uhm...and after several... it wasn't anything sudden. It was an ongoing

uh...thing and my mother died uh...from cancer uhm...and uh...they died uh...within probably... well, it was within

six months of each other. My father died first and then my mother uh...died uhm...

Hayes: You know on campus we have Wagoner Hall, which is important where all the students

eat, very important, and then uh...I don't know that many people realize it the Madeline Suite, which is part of

that, a very nice uh...dining area is named for...

Wagoner: For my mother.

Hayes: ... for you mother which is wonderful.

Wagoner: Yeah. Dad's... it was interesting dad... there's, for instance, Wagoner Drive the... out front.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: The Board of Trustees had tried for years to name that street Wagoner Drive and I don't even remember what

it was but my father had a heart attack and he never missed a board of trustees meeting and the first one he missed

was... and they had tried to name it and he would either table the discussion or basically nip it in the bud. He

didn't... he didn't... he... he always... his thing I remember he said "Fool's names like fool's faces are often

seen in common places" and so he didn't like the idea of having his name up and... and stuff but they... they did

that uh...while he was in the hospital recovering from his heart attack and uh...and so it was... it was a done

deal and so he couldn't really uh...couldn't really uh...rescind it I suppose without being just a complete jerk

and so... and Wagoner Hall uhm...I think that he thought that he could nip that in the bud because my... my father

he was adamant about uhm...he would not have uh...a building named after him unless my mother had something to do

with it, unless there was something. He was...

Hayes: Oh, that's nice.

Wagoner: He was just adamant about that mother probably was... was uh...she had quite a lot to do with the

early university and the... and the foundation that it's been built on. She... she uh...people need to know that

she deserves quite a lot of credit because uh...

Hayes: Excellent.

Wagoner: ... because it wouldn't... the university wouldn't be here today if it weren't for my mom uhm...and...

and... and dad would be the first one to... to acknowledge that so but anyway I'm sorry. I go off on tangents.

Hayes: Oh, no, that's all right. We're tangents. That's what we're about isn't it, Dina, that tangents are fine?

Riggins: Yeah.

Hayes: Uh...back to the house.

Wagoner: Uh huh.

Hayes: in some ways you had full reign of this big mansion. What... tell us how the... what were the living

arrangements normally like?

Wagoner: The living arrangements it's funny a lot of people think and... and I don't know and I guess I could

probably sit down tonight and... and think about it and write it down and get back to you on it, I never counted

the number of rooms inside. I was like... people would always and I'm like I don't really know. But the... the...

the living arrangements a lot of people I think are... are under a misconception about a big house and living in a

big... at least... at least from my perspective that you've got all these rooms and... and... and you've got this

just immense amount of privacy but the rooms, most of the rooms weren't used except when we were entertaining.

Hayes: I see.

Wagoner: Parties. Uhm...basically it was the den, uhm...the family room uhm...which probably had more... that was

probably the only room that had truly contemporary furniture like a recliner and couch and things like that, the

kitchen and the breakfast area and then our bedrooms and the bathrooms.

Hayes: Those are upstairs.

Wagoner: The... all the bedrooms were upstairs right. of the... there were... there were a lot of

advantages to living there because one of them being the... they could take literally the longest shower

or you could fill up tubs over and over and over with hot water because the water heater was so big and it was such

a big house.

Hayes: Because it was steam heat you mean?

Wagoner: No, no, no, no. It was... after... after they put in uh...the central heating and air it was

turned... it originally was steam heat and all the radiators are still there as far as I know behind these, I don't

even know what you would call them.

Hayes: Grills.

Wagoner: Well they're... they're grills but they're ornately carved. Anyway but the... the uh...the uh...heating

and uh...air-conditioning it was an oil-fired furnace after they put it in but it was a hot water system which

meant that it heated or chilled water and it sent it through pipes and the blowers would blow over it. But, the

uh...the water heater was this huge, I don't know how many hundreds of gallons the thing but it was...

Riggins: Did you guys put that in or it was there?

Hayes: Well it was there because it was a big house.

Wagoner: Yeah, it was there.

Riggins: Because it was a big house, okay.

Wagoner: But the nice thing about it was know if you turn on a tap in a house it takes it a few seconds

for the water to... hot water to come through or a shower but the house was so big what they... what they did

uh...was they put in a circulating pump that always circulated hot water through the pipes so that you didn't have

to wait for hot, so you turned it on and it was instantly hot. And I didn't know that... that until we moved out

that when you turn on a tap in a place that... that, you know, hot water wasn't readily available so, but yeah, it

was... the living arrangements it really was... it was... we would kind of sequester ourselves in

the... in the family areas.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: And uhm...the... the den uhm...and, of course, the kitchen and our bedrooms but...

Hayes: Right, so where did you eat uh...meals?

Wagoner: That... it really depended. Uhm...early on uhm...I remember we would always have breakfast out

the garden. There's a little formal garden with an Italian marble fountain and uh...and...

Hayes: At the back of the house.

Wagoner: At... at the back of the house and it's... it's walled in and it's a very private...

Riggins: Courtyard, yeah.

Wagoner: Right, yeah, and uhm...we would eat. There was a little I guess raised terrace that led from the great

hall to uh...through French doors to this little terrace and we would eat out there uh...sometimes. Sometimes we

would eat there's uhm...there's a solarium that connects to the den.

Hayes: Right.

Riggins: Yeah.

Wagoner: And uhm...sometimes we would eat in there. Uhm...most of the time, I guess most of my teenage years and

uh...I guess we were pretty much a nuclear family because we... we didn't... we had very few sit down dinners other

than Christmas and Thanksgiving and uh...but it really... it depended. It depended upon when uh...

Hayes: But say not for a formal event but if other family came or friends and so forth would you eat then in

that... that dining room, the formal...

Wagoner: No, there were a few times but mostly there was a uh...the dining room was at the front of the house, the

right front of the house and was a... it was rather formal looking uhm...and uh...we would eat in

there uhm...but we wouldn't... I can't ever remember taking... taking a meal in there other than it being a group


Hayes: Special occasion.

Riggins: Company, uh huh.

Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: The uh...was the kitchen remodeled in the time that you were there because you talked about early on it was

pretty... pretty dingy and gray.

Wagoner: Yeah, it was... it was remodeled uhm...I don't remember the remodeling because I was so young but uhm...I

have somewhere seen pictures and it was... it was kind of was kind of the 1930s look uhm...with the... the

sinks, I suppose the ones that were suspended and they were... they were uhm...porcelain and had that checkerboard

linoleum you know.

Hayes: Oh, right, right.

Wagoner: And uhm...uhm...yeah it was not uh...very... I don't remember if the refrigerator was in there or not but

uh...they remodel it uhm...right after... right after we moved in.

Hayes: Good and did you... and then was your family able to say "We'd like painting and different colors and so

forth"? I mean so in the time you were there you could keep, your father could ask for improvements right?

Wagoner: Sure, yeah he could, yes and no. See, a lot of the... a lot of the... a lot of the furniture uhm...quite a

bit of the furniture came with the house.

Hayes: Okay.

Wagoner: And the state owns it and uhm...most of it's very uncomfortable. It's very... it's very's... it's

not... it's not what you would want to relax in and read a book or watch TV. far as the painting goes,

like I say the house it was odd because you couldn't just decide you wanted to hang something on a wall because the

walls basically were concrete.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: It's like a prison and so, you know, you couldn't just get a nail out and tap it in. It was a major

undertaking where you had to get basically an impact drill and drill in and put... but uhm...yeah it was... yeah,

they lightened it up. It was... they painted and they... they would paint, the university would paint. was

uh...back when I was there, well that's a whole other thing about the... the... the, I don't know what they would

call it. Anyway, the uhm...they would paint and based... from what I remember uh...a good example of that is

uh...they needed to paint my bedroom.

Hayes: Okay.

Wagoner: And handed me this big book of... of, you know, color chips and it was like, you know, okay pick

a color out that you like and so she was like circle it. And so I circled this kind of like pale blue color and

uh...I went to school the next day and uh...I home and they had come in and they had painted it but they

had gotten completely the wrong color and it was like the color that they painted, like the locker room over in

Trask, somebody had circled that color and they just saw the one that was circled. It was the first one they came

to, so it was this horrible greenish you know like operating room looking and I was like... so, yeah, they... they

did make...

Hayes: So did you have them change it I hope?

Wagoner: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Hayes: Oh, good.

Wagoner: Yeah, they came... they came back and they changed it uhm...but it... it really was... it's interesting

because I've been back there uhm...and it's odd because there are some things that can't... the house is... the

house is... is very, I guess for lack of a better word inert. I mean it can't... it will not... it will not change

because you can't decide, oh we're going to knock down this wall.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: Or we're going to put up and... and a lot of the furniture goes with certain rooms.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: And you just don't move it.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: It doesn't... there's no reason to and so it's... it's weird. It's... I've been back and... and you see...

you see the, you know, the, I don't know the... they might have put in a table here or... or whatever but the...

the big... the big part of the house it's all the same. It's all... all the same.

Hayes: Well, it has a historic kind of historic home component that they want to keep that furniture. Let's talk

about some of the interesting things that happened. You were a small child in a place where furniture was, you

know, I mean you didn't know any different but some of this stuff was really valuable and it was wonderful and yet

you had to live there. What, you know, were your parents always worried or just able to able to exist and live and

do your thing, I mean that's...

Wagoner: Well, yes, yeah. Mom... my mom said later on that I was actually... actually a pretty good kid. I was

actually... I didn't... but I did... there were things that were broken. I mean honestly there were things that

were, you know, and I learned because the house is on Market Street, which is a very busy, busy street...

Hayes: Oh, yeah.

Wagoner: ... on the corner of 17th and Market which is a horrible intersection. I wasn't allowed to... to play

outside very much at all uhm...and I was definitely not allowed to ride my tricycle uh...except being very closely

supervised and so I learned to ride my tricycle in the Great Hall of Kenan House and there... I don't... I think as

a matter of fact I think I've still seen it, there was a huge, huge porcelain, it's probably five feet tall and

it's got this like tea, carved tea stand, I rode my tricycle right into it and knocked it over and dented it and

cracked it and so they basically turned the bad part to the wall. So, if you're ever in Kenan House and you see

this big porcelain, if you look behind it you can see this huge dent in it. But uhm...that and uh...there were...

there were uh...oh boy there were, you know, I... I put uh...thinking back on it it's terrible but yeah I didn't

know at the time.

Hayes: No, no I don't think it's terrible because it's a real house. I mean that's the...

Wagoner: But uh...they had these uh...cherry beds and I have no idea what uh...what... how old they were or

anything but uh...I put my bumper sticker, you know, on the... the headboard and I was just thinking if that thing

is, you know, and trying to peel it off but I actually got to, you know, this sounds crazy but I can remember, I

can remember if you've ever watched Antiques Road Show and... and, you know, they... they... they look at, you

know, a piece and it's like well, you know, "the lacquer on this doesn't look right and this wasn't"... I actually

got where I could, you know, there's a taste test for antiques because I can remember as a little kid, you know,

like a little toddler like, you know, kind of gnawing on like these like a chair or something and the... the... the

varnish would have a certain flavor to it that was different from, yeah, a new piece of furniture so uhm...

Riggins: That's funny.

Wagoner: And uh...

Hayes: You had your own room then.

Wagoner: Right, oh yeah.

Hayes: And then upstairs there's the master bedroom now and then there's another room to the side and there was

this ornate bathroom between. Was that... did you share that bathroom or use a different one?

Wagoner: No, uhm...every... every bedroom, well the rooms we lived in, the master... the master bathroom there was

a... it was a... there was a cut-through to my room through that master bathroom. I never used the master bathroom.

Hayes: Okay.

Wagoner: I had my own separate bathroom.

Hayes: Oh, there was another one on the other side?

Wagoner: Right, yeah. There's one. I believe they turned uh...turned my bedroom into a... I think Ms. Gates' office

I think is what my bedroom was uhm...

Hayes: And did you have like a separate playroom because there are so many bedrooms up there was there one of them

designated for you as a...

Wagoner: Not, not really no.

Hayes: ... toy room or anything like that?

Wagoner: No, not... not really., I... I really... no, huh uh, no.

Hayes: And then if we go upstairs for the people listening there's like, it's like a balcony that would go around.

Wagoner: Uh...

Hayes: Okay, and there were several bedrooms on the side near yours. Were those like guests, did guests come and

stay with you?

Wagoner: Sure.

Hayes: Of course you had your brother, one brother was still there so for a while he was...

Wagoner: Well, yeah, he lived... he was in the... if you walk up the... the main staircase and you... his is the

first bedroom you come to and it would be if you walk up the main staircase you take a left. You go down the short

little area. You take another left. His bedroom is on the right.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: And uh...

Hayes: And if you keep going you come to the master...

Wagoner: To the master bedroom, right.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: And the little study there.

Hayes: And then if you keep going around you come to yours.

Wagoner: Right, uh huh.

Hayes: And then there's two more on the far side.

Wagoner: Right, yeah. There's... there's one that grandfather when he would come and visit uhm...he would

stay in the one closest to my room uh...

Hayes: Okay, well tell us who was your grandfather? I mean I hadn't heard this one. Who was... where was he? Which


Wagoner: Oh, uh...he...

Hayes: Now, which side, grandfather on...

Wagoner: My grandfather on my uh...father's side.

Hayes: What was his name?

Wagoner: His name was uh...Gotha Wagoner uhm...and...

Hayes: Gotha, G...

Wagoner: G-O-T-H-A or Gotha I guess if you...

Hayes: Is Wagoner an English name or is it...

Wagoner: Wagoner is German.

Hayes: German, okay.

Wagoner: Yeah, Wagoner is German and's spelled the way... the way my name is spelled is W-A-G-O-N-E-R

uh...which is probably Anglecanized or... or whatever uh...because the German spelling is W-A-G-N-E-R.= uh...but he

uh...yeah he would come and stay uhm...when I was very little uh...apparently he got... got ill and came and stayed

probably for about a year I think and uhm...but that was his bedroom and uhm...he also was from the Little

Washington area. Uhm...he was a... a farmer, basically a sharecropper uhm...and uhm...

Hayes: Interesting.

Wagoner: And uh...

Hayes: It would have been... it would have been interesting to talk to him.

Wagoner: Oh, yeah.

Hayes: About his son living in a, you know, a mansion that was uh...from one of the wealthiest families in the...

in the region and he started out as a sharecropper. I mean that must have been a fascinating uh...change for him.

Wagoner: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, it was but he, you know, he was... he uh...he was a very gentle man. He took

everything in stride and everything was... he, he was just very, very calm, just a very calm man and that probably

had a lot to do with the depression and... and losing a lot and... and I think people back then kind of took things

a little differently. I think they... they, I don't know but, yeah, he... he was a... and he was... he was fairly

old. Uhm...he died I guess when I was 12 uhm...and uhm...but uh...

Hayes: And then the other bedrooms other guests would come occasionally or?

Wagoner: Well, guests usually uhm...we... guests would stay, there was an apartment over the garage.

Hayes: Oh, okay.

Wagoner: And that was the chauffeur's quarters uhm...

Hayes: Originally.

Wagoner: Originally right and they... the state remodeled it and uhm...we had uh...for instance uhm...when uh...a

basketball coach named Kevin Eastman, he came down and was in the process of... of becoming a coach but his wife

was pregnant at the time and didn't... he didn't want to try to move her down. He didn't have a house. So, people

would stay up there and he stayed up there probably about six weeks uh...

Hayes: Interesting.

Wagoner: And had its own separate little people could come and go as they pleased.

Hayes: And it had a little kitchenette and so forth or...

Wagoner: Eventually it did, yeah. Eventually they put in a little uh...I don't know that it... it had that yet. It

had basically what amounted to a wet bar and a microwave but it didn't have... and a little refrigerator

but it didn't...

Hayes: So, through your... through most of your tenure your sense of that was that it was kind of a supplemental

housing to help the university out at certain points is that kind of...

Wagoner: You mean the apartment?

Hayes: Yeah.

Wagoner: Yeah, yeah that and was a great place to party.

Hayes: Oh, God.

Wagoner: It was. It was perfect then uh, yeah, it was... it was was great because uh...

Hayes: You could have... you could have friends over and you didn't have to be in the main big house and so forth.

Wagoner: Oh no. Oh, no, yeah, yeah, no, no, we never... I never... I never threw a party in the big house oh, no.

That was just a little too... too dangerous I suppose but uhm...we uh...yeah, it was weird because as... as a

teenage boy, you know you get your friends calling or something, "Why don't you sneak out" you know and we'll go.

At Kenan House there was no sneaking out. You just walked out. I mean it was so big, you didn't have to like worry

about worry about just walk out.

Hayes: That's right because you could be up in one corner and you would never know it.

Wagoner: Oh, sure.

Riggins: Just come and go.

Wagoner: Sure, sure, so.

Riggins: Where did you go to high school?

Wagoner: I went to uh...New Hanover uhm...

Hayes: Gee, down, just down the road.

Riggins: Just walk over there.

Wagoner: Oh, yeah, oh yeah.

Hayes: So you walked to high school.

Wagoner: True.

Hayes: What about elementary school, where was that?

Wagoner: Elementary school I went uhm...I went through uh...let's see, first and second grade I went to Cape Fear

Academy uhm...but uh...basically I think my father wanted me to go to a public school and uhm...and he I think

because he was superintendent down here for a while and uhm...

Hayes: Yeah.

Wagoner: I think he... he liked the school system down here.

Riggins: Yeah.

Wagoner: Uhm...but anyway so I went uh...elementary school I went to Forest Hills for I think two years and then

uh...for fifth and sixth grade I went to what we used to call Chestnut that they call Snipes now.

Hayes: Okay.

Wagoner: And uhm...then uh...junior high, junior high back when I went was seventh, eighth and ninth.

Riggins: Yeah.

Wagoner: And that was...

Hayes: Oh, really they had ninth grade.

Wagoner: D. C. Virgo and then tenth, eleventh and twelfth I went to uh...New Hanover.

Hayes: And, you know, you hit on kind of an interesting chord that I wanted to speak to is you're walking down to

high school from a mansion. Did anybody care? I mean... I mean in other words you're the... you're the, you know,

the chancellor's son. You live in this big place. It wasn't yours. You didn't own it.

Wagoner: No.

Hayes: But at the same time did you ever get a sense of uh...separation because of that I just...

Wagoner: Sometimes but it was very... I was lucky and have been lucky that uh...that because I have grown up my

whole life in... in Wilmington uhm...I kind of learned very early on to... you get a couple of good friends and

you... you stay good friends and whole periphery of... of people kind of because of living at Kenan House

there was quite a lot of entertaining going on and... and I guess you kind of get insulated to... to that. And so

uhm...I didn't... I guess the answer is, yes I did notice that but not... it didn't really bother me. It didn't

because... because I did have a core of really good friends who... and honestly and... and I'm talking about

friends that I've... I've known since fourth grade and when you're in fourth grade it really doesn't... people

don't, you know, it doesn't really matter, you know, houses or, you know, whatever.

Riggins: Right, nobody cares, yes.

Wagoner: And so...

Hayes: Yeah, good.

Riggins: Yeah.

Wagoner: And then by the time I, you know, was in high school and... and college, yeah I still had those friends

and they... they, you know, I grew up with them so it was...

Hayes: Good, good.

Wagoner: But uh...

Hayes: Well the, you know, New Hanover was a very mixed high school as far as the types of people that went there. doesn't... I don't think it has a straight economic grouping.

Wagoner: No, it doesn't.

Hayes: So, and the thing is most people, do you think most people understood that your family didn't own that

house? I mean that's always a question I wonder did people begin to believe that the chancellor owns the house or


Wagoner: I think, you know, I think yeah. I think so and, you know, I think that it's odd because I think that

people thought that uh...I could go home from school and... and, you know, ring a little bell and I'd have a

sandwich made for me and God forbid, if... we had a housekeeper. We've had housekeepers and God forbid if I said

"Will you please bring me," it would be like "boy, get in there and make it yourself."

Hayes: Oh.

Wagoner: Seriously, I mean and so it was... it was very... it was... it was...

Hayes: So it didn't have the uh...luxurious feel of the uh...

Wagoner: No. It really didn't. It really... it really really didn't and, like I said, earlier I think

people thought that, you know, we would, you know, dress for dinner and... and, you know, dad would be, you know in

the smoking room with the pipe and, you know, no. It wasn't like that at all. My father, you know, and it's funny

but my father would go to these very lavish, you know, dinner parties and so forth. They'd have prime rib and, you

know, anything, you know, great food and he'd come back and it was horrible to him. He would come back and

literally like eat uh...if you ever heard of sow's meat, I mean he loved head cheese. I mean he was... he ate... he

ate nasty stuff that I wouldn't, but he loved it. I mean he was... he was very down to earth.

Hayes: Yeah.

Wagoner: Very, very down to earth uhm...and that kind of... that kind of permeated the whole... the whole uhm...

Hayes: Well one thing is I think for those who are listening who may want to see plans or ever go to the house

after you take away the big, long hallway that you talked about.

Wagoner: Right.

Hayes: And the formal dining room that you didn't... couldn't use much and then there was another big

uh...visitation kind of sitting room and then there was a little library.

Wagoner: Right.

Hayes: But was it really a library at your point?

Wagoner: Yeah, it was a... it was a library only in the sense that we kept books there.

Hayes: But you didn't use it much.

Wagoner: No, and, again, a lot of that was because of... of uh...of comfort. The chairs in there uhm...really,

number one it would be dangerous to sit on them because they're very old and they're very fragile.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: And I've... I sat on one, you know, before and you sit on it and you hear the wood just kind of go (makes

creaking sound), so no but yeah there were books in there uhm...and uhm...uhm...

Hayes: But the point is that after you take all those rooms away on the bottom floor you're left with a little

solarium, kind of a family room, a small kitchen. It isn't a very large kitchen at all.

Wagoner: No.

Hayes: And then three or four bedrooms upstairs so it's... so from a family standpoint it is a... is a very middle

level space with this kind of entertainment attachment to it.

Wagoner: That's exactly... that's exactly... that's exactly what it is and... and as a matter of fact it's almost,

you could almost say other than the... than the formal dining room at the very front of the house the entire... as

you're facing the house, the entire right side was the... was the family area. That was the family area.

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: Uhm...and even the back stairs uh...uh...I... I rarely used the... the grand stairs. I rarely used the...

Hayes: Oh, you couldn't slide down the grand stairs in there?

Wagoner: Oh, I've done that. Oh, definitely, oh yeah.

Hayes: I always wanted to do that but I didn't.

Wagoner: It was... it was great fun. You need to try it.

Hayes: It's a great...

Wagoner: Oh but uh...yeah, you know, when we first moved there too uhm...OSHA, I guess it was OSHA but they came

and uh...did a... a safety inspection because it is a state... it's state property and there are certain things

that have to be... meet certain codes and uh...they wanted to put in uh...they measured and... and it was a very,

you know, there are certain guidelines and if it's, you know, down to the millimeter. They measured the grand

staircase and they said, "This is too wide. Uh...we have to... we're going to have to put in a center rail, a

center rail."

Hayes: Oh, no.

Wagoner: And my mother was like, no. They're like "You don't understand." She was like no and so they didn't put it

in. I mean there were certain concessions made to keep the house uhm...authentic I guess.

Hayes: Yeah.

Wagoner: Uhm...

Hayes: I think the other thing that I've heard is that it is... as long as it's classed as a residence then some of

this craziness doesn't come into play.

Wagoner: Yeah, yeah.

Hayes: If it swings over to become, you know, the formal structure for entertainment only and so forth but because

if it goes away from being a residence then all kinds of things come into play.

Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: And it was a residence. I mean I think that's what's fascinating from your story this was your house for 20

years right?

Wagoner: Oh, yeah, yeah it was... yeah, I grew up, yeah. I think I... I think I just turned 21. I think we were

getting ready to move I think perhaps.

Hayes: Yeah.

Wagoner: But, yeah, it was, yeah, yeah I grew up there and I didn't really know anything any different. I didn't

know any... that was...

Riggins: Right. It was just home.

Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: Just home. Uh...tell us about, you know, growing up already mentioned the fact that because of that

location you couldn't do certain things, but friends would come over. Was this just a normal, you know, place...

Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: ... where you would say let's go...

Wagoner: Yeah, sure. Yeah, we uh...we uh...I guess... I guess growing up, being... being little uhm...I guess they

call them play dates now or whatever, you know, yeah I would go over to friend's houses and we would have

sleepovers and build tents and, you know, just typical kid stuff junior high and high school uh...the

main... the main activity was and there was a goal out in the parking lot. There was a house where

the parking lot is now in Kenan House. There was a uh...a former judge who used to live there. It's in between,

well it's where the parking lot is, and it's between Kenan House and Wise House.

Hayes: There was a house right there?

Wagoner: There was a house. You know where the big uh...the asphalt...

Hayes: Yeah.

Wagoner: Yeah, there was a house there and I remember when they knocked it down. I was very, very little but they

built a parking lot and what they did was uhm...they... it had a basement and it was a wooden house and so I guess

the state and its... either it was either a contractor or the state in its infinite wisdom they just caved the

house in on the basement and covered it over with dirt but it was wooden and so the wood rotted. And so there was

a... and there was... there was a man, a man who used to park his car there. He used to live uh...a woman by the

name of Laura Padrick [ph?] whose husband was the last chauffeur...

Hayes: Right.

Riggins: Right.

Wagoner: ... she lived around the corner of the Kenan store. Mrs. Kenan bought her a little house and because

uh...her husband took good care of her. Well, anyway, and she got... she became ill and her brother came and would

look after her for months at a time and rather than parking his car on 17th Street, dad was like "Would you like to

park in the... in the parking lot, then walk down the alley"?

Hayes: Right.

Wagoner: He was like "Sure" and one day he came and knocked on the door and he said "My car is in a hole." And,


Hayes: This is great.

Wagoner: And so we looked out and sure enough his car was in... was like he's sitting out... out in California or

wherever. It was in a sink hole.

Hayes: Gosh.

Wagoner: It's like oh boy, so they came and they... they called a tow truck and they... they, you know, pulled it

out and then they... they uh...they excavated the whole basement and filled it in proper with uh...with dirt and

uh...tamped it down and put sod back down. But the... the bad thing about it was that Kenan House the whole house,

all, well the porch in particular had shifted just... just a few millimeters in that direction because the whole

yard had sloped down into... into that.

Hayes: Oh.

Wagoner: And so uhm...there are and I don't know if they're going to repair them or even try but there... there are

three big cracks on the porch at Kenan House and it's because of that sink hole. Uhm...but that whole are, there

was not a parking lot there uhm...and the little gate that goes between Kenan House and the Wise House uhm...that

was installed. That was... that was just a wall if I remember correctly.

Hayes: Okay.

Wagoner: they had to actually cut that section out. Now, the... the actual gates at the front of... of the parking

lot, okay, if you... there's the little iron gate leading up the... the walkway but then you've got the... the two

big gates.

Hayes: Drive gates.

Wagoner: Drive gates, right, and took some ribbing uhm...and his explanation was that it was always

Wilmington, the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. People would pick on him and say it was Wagoner. If you

notice, they've got two W's on them and... and where that came from, those came, those were there... originally, he

had those put in. They came from the Wise House. They were... they came from over there. They had taken down some

and so they were like, well you know, we need gates here and, you know, it's cheaper than having... because, you

know, money it's... it's tight now but money was really, it used to be really, really... it used to be really

tight. I mean it used to far as... as I... you know landscaping and... and know it was... a

lot of stuff has been ruined because of the heating and air-conditioning system and the state never offered to

replace it there, you know but uh...

Hayes: Well right now they're going to fix it up.

Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: And much of it is the basic heating and air-conditioning in 2003 and the roof and the cracks and... and

they're talking over a million dollars, so it's... it has not had that update since the update that your dad did

early on and then before that it was 1930, so that's...

Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: That's a long time.

Wagoner: Yeah, it's uhm...yeah it was... yeah and there also used to be uh...if anyone's interested uh...and it had

to come down but uh...and so but it's nobody's fault other than just it was an old tree. There used to be a huge,

huge, gorgeous oak tree in the side yard. It was a live oak and it was absolutely gorgeous but it had

been weakened I guess after so many years and hurricanes and they were worried that it would actually fall into the


Hayes: Now, which side yard? If you're facing the house was that left or right?

Wagoner: If you're facing the house it was... it's to the left.

Hayes: Left, which is now a big open area.

Wagoner: Right.

Hayes: Now there's also a garden in there. Was that... or kind of a walk path was that there in your time?

Wagoner: With the boxwoods, yeah, with the little, yeah, the little (inaudible).

Hayes: And even a few sculptures and so forth.

Wagoner: Yeah, the sculpture that's out there now was out there when I was there.

Hayes: Good.

Wagoner: It's like I say very little, very little has changed uhm...

Hayes: Good.

Wagoner: Uhm...

Riggins: It sounds like you have been back pretty recently.

Wagoner: I have yeah.

Riggins: Was it to visit the Leutzes?

Wagoner: Yeah, I went uhm...I actually worked out here for a while in telecommunications and so uhm...I've been

back uhm...the fax machine would stop working whenever I'd go over there but most recently I went back when they

unveiled uh...Chancellor Leutze's portrait and uh...he invited me and so I just kind of walked around. The funny

thing about that was I went back and it was so odd because that was really the first time that I'd been in Kenan

House where I wasn't "working".

Hayes: Yeah, right.

Wagoner: And that I was actually there and so I ended up spending most of my time in the kitchen and ended up

staying around helping clean up and take his portrait back. Just that's what felt natural. I mean I was the, you

know, I was...

Hayes: You lived there.

Riggins: (Inaudible).

Wagoner: Pretty much, so.

Hayes: Let me ask you about a right of passage uh...learning to drive a car. Do you drive a car?

Wagoner: Oh, yeah.

Riggins: Uh huh.

Hayes: Now for those who don't know that's a very, very narrow driveway coming up to kind of a... a what do you

call it a portico or carport.

Wagoner: Carport, yeah.

Hayes: And then is there a garage there? A two-car garage there?

Wagoner: There's a... there's a two-car... there's a two-car not side-by-side but front to rear garage.

Hayes: Indeed yeah. And then the street is just deadly as far as getting out. I mean what did you do? Where did you

drive? Where did you... what did you practice in? I mean how did you do that at that house?

Wagoner: I practiced uh...I... I actually practiced with uh...with the family car uhm...which was at that time a...

a, I think it was a 1980-81-82 uh...white huge Pontiac Bonneville Brougham with the blue crushed velvet seat and it

was a diesel.

Riggins: Nice.

Hayes: Diesel.

Wagoner: Oh, it was a diesel. Yeah, it was a land yacht. I mean it was...

Riggins: That sounds...

Hayes: Did it fit in that driveway?

Wagoner: Oh, yeah, it fit in the garage, oh yeah and... and, you know, it was... it was one of the ones with the...

the power steering that you could move your pinky. I mean it was, oh yeah, it was like the typical, you know,

typical American land yacht. But I practiced, I actually practiced the... in the parking lot there, you

know, just kind of backing up.

Hayes: Oh, good.

Wagoner: And... and around uhm...I... I took... I was... because of my age uhm...the way they did driver's ed in

public... public school was the older kids got to do it first and I was... I was younger than... than they and so I

ended up taking it privately. My first car was a Chevy Manza [ph?] hatchback, uh, white, and uh...I only

had that for a little while before the engine block cracked on it and I ended up uh...I fell in love with uh...with

uh...a Triumph TR-7 convertible.

Hayes: Oh, my goodness.

Wagoner: And was used and so anyway I drove that. I drove that until I started college. I drove that for...

for quite a few years but the getting out part was... was it was easy if... if you parked in the parking lot

there's an alley that runs behind the house.

Hayes: Okay.

Wagoner: And so you can go out the alley and then you're on uh...17th Street and there's, of course, the stoplight

and so you... it's easy to take a right.

Hayes: So you did, mainly you came in and out of that alleyway?

Wagoner: Actually, later on I did but uhm...I used to park underneath that carport and uhm...honestly I never

really had that much problem getting out because people were pretty nice. They would stop and let you, I mean,

because it was a stoplight and they would just... but that was, yeah.

Hayes: And I wonder too in the... in the intervening years Market Street has even gotten crazier as far as just the

volume. Now what about from a noise standpoint? I mean could you... where you just got used to the dull roar of

traffic or what was the...

Wagoner: Pretty much, yeah, pretty much but... but that house was... was fairly well insulated.

Hayes: Good.

Wagoner: As far as noise, although there was a constant... there was constant noise and if it's too quiet I

have a hard time sleeping.

Hayes: We're doing fine.

Wagoner: Oh, okay.

Hayes: We just keep checking our time. We're going to switch this tape in jus a few minutes.

Wagoner: But, yeah, it uhm...sometimes if it's too quiet I have a hard time sleeping but uhm...

Riggins: Growing up in the city.

Hayes: Wherever you grew up. You grew up in the uh...busy city there with the uh...

Wagoner: But the, you know, the... I was just thinking about that reminded me. That was another advantage of... of

living in Kenan House or what I consider now an advantage was that the way they did the heating and... and air-

conditioning was that each room at that time had its own thermostat and fan control so you could have it 80 degrees

in... in one room and... and 40 in another if you wanted, not 40 but, yeah, could get it pretty cold. Uh...and but

then they... they installed this horrible program that they... the university will... the university used Kenan

House as basically a test bed for a program uhm...called uh...a Robert Shaw program and basically it... it's maps trends and it's... it's very complicated but for a building like the size of this library uhm...or an

auditorium or classrooms, you know, going up and down a few degrees after... after a while that costs a lot of

money. And so what they tried... what they wanted to do is they put these sensors in and uhm...and to... and used

Kenan House as a test bed. The horrible part about it was you had to be a computer engineer to change the... you

had to actually log onto a... and this was back in the DOS days and so basically what... basically the way, the way

we got around it after that and they had that in there probably about six years before we left, if it uh...if it

was too cold in a room'd get like a towel and wrap it in ice and put it on the sensor.

Hayes: Oh, my goodness.

Wagoner: And, if it was too hot, you would like cover the sensor (breathes heavily) like that it and it would kick

the air-conditioning on in the room.

Hayes: Inside stories here.

Riggins: Yeah.

Hayes: Now, there were fireplaces.

Wagoner: Sure.

Hayes: Did you guys ever, I mean of course the weather is so warm.

Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: But did you ever put those on for any occasion?

Wagoner: Well, the... the fireplaces really uhm...we... we would build fires in the... in the den. The problem with

the fireplaces there was that they were basically coal-burning. They weren't... they weren't really... they were...

they were so shallow that uhm...they smoked fairly, pretty badly uhm...and so had to be kind of careful

uhm...or else it... but, yeah, all the bedrooms, I don't think the master... yeah, the master bedroom had a

fireplace. Bedrooms had fireplaces.

Hayes: Yeah.

Wagoner: Uhm...but I never lit one in my room. I never uh...uh...and part of that too was we weren't really sure,

you know, if there were bird nests and... and uh...

Riggins: Cleaned out right.

Wagoner: So, uhm...

Hayes: You said you had people who helped out. Who were some of the housekeepers? I know that Toni, who's there

now, was she there for much of your time?

Wagoner: She was there, she was there probably for four years, five years.

Hayes: Just late in your time (inaudible).

Wagoner: Yeah. Uhm...first, the first housekeeper we had was a woman named uh...Geneva Stanley and she was there

probably until I was maybe eight or nine.

Riggins: I think we met her. I think, yeah, I think she was friends with Miss Ethel, I think or Sue has maybe

mentioned her, uh huh.

Wagoner: Well, yeah, she was there. She was actually the housekeeper uhm...and then I had uhm...a nurse uhm...until

I was probably about five I guess and her name was Mildred uh...I can't remember her last name uhm...and she kind

of... she was basically a housekeeper but she also took care of... of... I think her primary responsibility was to,

you know, make sure I didn't break stuff.

Hayes: Well but your mom was in a mode of, you know, not really at home as much. She had to do I'm sure a lot of

things tied to the university.

Wagoner: Oh, sure, yeah.

Hayes: So that was part of the...

Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: And then in the evenings would there be lots and lots of events in the year I mean?

Wagoner: There were... there were quite a few, yeah. They're... they're pretty much... there wasn't always

something going on but they... they... the big event of the year was uh...was the Christmas parties.

Hayes: Oh, yeah, I wondered about that.

Wagoner: Yeah, those had to eventually be broken up uhm...where the faculty and staff got an invitation but your

invitation was for a certain night because...

Hayes: So they really had a Christmas party for the whole faculty and staff?

Wagoner: The entire faculty and staff, yeah.

Hayes: Wow.

Wagoner: And uh...

Hayes: It's hard to visualize now with our size but...

Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: And would you go to these yourself as the years went by or?

Wagoner: Oh sure, oh yeah, I went to... I went to every... every single one, every single one of them probably.

Yeah, I uh...started out as, you know, I guess I was two or three years old and... and, you know, toddling around,

up until I was an ambassador here at the university and would stand and the door along with mom and dad

but uh...yeah.

Hayes: That's interesting.

Wagoner: Yeah, we were on the candlelight tour a few times but that uh... that...

Hayes: All right, let's talk about some other childhood type things uh...Halloween, what did you do at Halloween? I

mean did people come up to the door and go trick or treat or uh...

Wagoner: Actually, you know, one or two maybe but uhm...I think people were afraid. I really think people were...

did not...

Riggins: They thought it was haunted.

Wagoner: Well, yeah either that or we had... we had Basset hounds out in the... out in the formal garden area and

Basset hounds are the sweetest dogs in the world but they sound like, you know, this huge...

Hayes: So your pets were Basset hounds?

Wagoner: The pets were Basset hounds.

Hayes: Oh, good how many did you have?

Wagoner: We had two uhm...

Hayes: What are their names?

Wagoner: Doc and Honey. Doc short for Dr. Watson and Honey short for Princess Christmas Rose, whatever, but yeah


Hayes: And they were... and where were they housed in a little pen or something?

Wagoner: No, they were... they had the... they had the run of the formal garden uh...out there in the back uh...the

little uh...uh...where the fountain is.

Hayes: Oh, that little area.

Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: And they could stay in that area then?

Wagoner: Sure, yeah, they had... they had a little section that was fenced off uh...that uh...had two little dog

houses that was under the shade at the back near the wall.

Hayes: Great.

Wagoner: So they would go back there.

Hayes: Great, great, great. And so they were alive through most of your childhood?

Wagoner: Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, they were, yeah, they were alive for... for most all of our childhood and... and I

guess when I was 16 mom, my mother uh...she decided se wanted a... a lap cat and so the girl I was dating at the

time happened to volunteer at an animal hospital, so she brought a cat home and the cat turned out not to be a lap

cat. It was ornery and anyway we got her another cat. So at one time there were... Doc, Dr. Watson died I

guess probably when I was 12 or 13. Honey lived on for a little while longer but at one time there were two cats.

They were completely indoor cats and uh...and a couple of dogs out there. And uh...yeah, you know, things like one

time we... we also had when I was very little uh...a dachshund and uh...and the governor came down

anyway, it was... it was a small... it wasn't a dinner party but it was a small little informal little, you know,

whatever. They were going to grill out. Well, anyway, was tending the grill and going inside and out

talking to the governor and I guess, I'm trying to think, it was probably Governor Holshalter [ph?]. I don't... I'm

trying... that probably would have been the right time. Anyway, so my brother came in and... and uh...he was... he

was home at the time. He was like, you know, dad, you know, Buffy's got the steak and this dog had dragged this

steak off the grill. It was down in the dirt and so dad he didn't have any more steak and so he like hoses off the

governor's, you know, steak and throws it back on the grill and so (laughs).

Hayes: (laughts) I love it. On that note, we're going to just change tapes if you'll bear with us a second.

Wagoner: Sure.


Wagoner: So it was the uh...the definitive end all be all. That's what, you know, most people want to... you know

I've been asked a lot of questions about Kenan, you know, what was it... but most people want to know about the

Blue Lady.

Hayes: The Blue Lady?

Wagoner: That's the blue, the whole ghost thing.

Hayes: Oh, yes tell us about that. Before we do that why don't we remind people that this is tape two of an

interview uh...on Kenan House with...

Wagoner: Mark Wagoner.

Hayes: Mark Wagoner and with...

Riggins: Adina Riggins.

Hayes: And Sherman Hayes, Randall Library, UNCW, on July 22, 2003. So, the Blue Lady, what is this the Blue Lady?

Wagoner: The, the, you know I... well, the story is and I remember this and I'm not uh...I don't necessarily

believe in ghosts. I don't, you know, I don't... but uh...when I was an infant nursery was right... right

next to the master bedroom. It was in what I guess now would be the study or a dressing room. It's kind of a small

little room. Anyway, I had a crib in there and it's... it's not a large room but it's kind of a long room and crib was in one corner and there was a little stand at the... the other end of the room and uh...I would

start to cry at night and I guess my parents would uh...argue over whose turn it was to, you know, I don't know. It

would take a few minutes. Anyways, one or the other of them would come in and I would have my bottle and they would

swear... and this happened several times, you know, well we must have left the bottle in the crib or whatever.

Well, one night they made absolutely sure there was no bottle in the... in the crib and they made sure they put the

bottle on the stand all the way across the room, I started to cry and I waited a few minutes, I came in I had the

bottle, now then, okay they... you know the explanation for that is they were sleepy when they went to... whatever

I... you know... I don't... but anyway I don't remember that but I remember- I remember probably when I was four or

five um.. this lady coming into my room and she was blue... had kind of a blue... I don't know um.. kind of a blue

globe that didn't really cast shadows or anything you could see her luminous oh yeah kind of a bad word but uh.. I

remember it- it was really frightening to me... well it became frightening later on but her eyes she- she didn't

seem to really have any eyes you know, she didn't... they were just kind of not there. Well anyway I used to tell

mom and dad that this blue lady would come in and talk to me and- and they... well (laugh) anyway...

Hayes: Didn't necessarily believe you?

Wagoner: Well no not exactly no, no and the thing was see dad thought for years he thought well it's just kids got

an over active imagination and he... what he knows this is Kenan House, he's already talked about Sarah Graham

Kenan and he's seen that picture in Kenan auditorium and I can I can remember no that's not the blue lady that he

kind of blue you know whatever kid's dreamin' you know. Well anyway uh.. I guess I was about eight, seven or eight

and there was this lady named Miss Blendenthal [ph?] who lived in the house across Market Street, directly across

from Kenan House uh.. came over and brought over an old photograph album of what Kenan House was before it became

Kenan House. Kenans didn't build Kenan House, the Delano's built the... it was called Sunnyside. Well anyway they

were... dad was in his chair, she was standing on one side and I was just kind of hanging out just looking over her

shoulder and they were flipping through the pages and they turned the page and I said "that's the lady, that's...

this is the lady that comes" the the... you know I- I recognize even with the whole eyes... the weird eye thing but

"that's her" and dad yeah in- this you know moment of you know being very you know very fatherly or what you know

it's like "well son. yeah," 'that's not Miss Kenan' and I said "well you know I... that's the lady" and Miss

Blendenthal [ph?] like "what... tell me about." So I told her the story about her coming in and stuff and dad did

not know at that time about the Delano's and all that, that was Miss Delano who had lived there before Miss Kenan

and she... and Miss Winfold was- was an old lady even back then and she said uh.. she said "well can you tell me

what she was wearing?" I said "she was wearing this really weird looking blue dress" and uh.. she said "can you

find the color that it is?" And I've looked around and found something... it's like "yeah it looks kinda like

that." She said "well I was at her funeral and she was buried in that shade of a blue funeral shroud" (cross

talking). So you know- so anyway so that's- that's the whole blue lady story.

Hayes: So did your dad start to give you some credence with this or...?

Wagoner: No, my... well my dad you know it's funny, my dad didn't really like talking about... yeah... he was


Hayes: He didn't like talking about it.

Wagoner: Yeah an academic he uh.. there were scientific explanations for you know and... but he... you know he's

seen things. I mean people have seen... that- that house has... at night in particular... if you're staying by

yourself um.. your mind can start playing tricks on you and- and- it's- it's... it can be creepy, um.. it can be a

creepy place.

Hayes: So Mrs Delano, they were the ones who built the house and they...?

Wagoner: Yeah the Delanos built.

Hayes: Now the thing that's interesting on this

Riggins: well did you tell this to the Leutzes?

Wagoner: I... you know I think I... I don't think they- they... I don't think that I ever... I think we've

mentioned have you seen things and- and um.. because Gage was like "yeah well he had a Jim seeing some stuff"


Hayes: Yeah you know for another interview when we do Dr Lucy we're gonna ask that, because he has specifically

said definitely he has seen ghosts in the house so... he is really interested in the house so I'm saying in some

justification here's an independent person at a later date that also has had some of the same...

Wagoner: Well you know and- and... the lights and stuff um.. out in the hall, the light switches there, I don't

know if they're gonna have to change them or do whatever but the light switches were these old um.. they were

probably circa 1930 electrical hardware and the- the actually switches themselves... the actual toggles were um.. I

guess made of something- something around them like- something like vapor light or whatever it was like some kind

of resin, well anyway the- the... when you- when you switched, I'm sorry (crew talk) when- when you would flip the

switch on, it would make a distinct- a distinct... sounds more like "tock" or (making a kind of popping sound)

because of the- the hard... the metal plate and you could hear it out in the hall and the... we'd be sitting in

the- in the den um.. and reading, you know the TV would be down very low whenever you would hear 'pop' and the

light would go on in the hall and there literally would be... there was me and my mom and my dad and no one else in

the house uh.. the uh.. housekeeper's gone home, this is like you know 11 o'clock at night so you know I... yeah

there were- there were kind of... it was yeah... it was uh.. but um..

Hayes: Interesting, but it didn't seem threatening to you? At some point?

Wagoner: Actually no, you know at- at some point yeah it- it kind of freaked me out, I remember being freaked out

but I was older at that time. I remember being kind of comforted um.. I suppose um.. earlier on um.. and uh.. but

yeah it never... the house was not... it was just- it was just very... it was very big, that's about- that's

about... and it was kind of... it- it was- it was...

Hayes: What's your sense with that older style and so forth in the evening it was a dark house to, because now we

light everything up, I mean...

Wagoner: Yeah it... it's um.. it was... I mean it- it was but it- it was... it... the- the den in particular was-

was kind of dark because at that time it had no... that... the den... I believe when we first moved in was

originally the dining room and um...

Hayes: Did it have that wood paneling or did that come later?

Wagoner: No the wood paneling was there.

Hayes: I wonder who put that in.

Wagoner: That... I don't know um...

Hayes: The early drawings is that that was a much lighter room, at some point somebody put in the...

Wagoner: It wasn't- it wasn't... yeah it wasn't put in... uh.. when... and um.. when we moved um.. that I know.

Um.. and um.. but they... and people have debated over what actually even what type of wood it is. Some people are

adamant that it's this, some people are adamant that it's this and um.. but that room was kind of- was kind of dark

and it- it had no... it had a chandelier in the original... we took it out because it's... it just... in a family

room it's just kind of a little too much so um.. they- they took it out and stored it up in the attic and um.. so I

had no overhead lighting and um.. so it- it was kind of dark in there.

Hayes: Now was that a TV room when finally TV came around as a normal for everybody. I mean was that where you...

Wagoner: Yeah, yes that was the TV room and um.. and um.. I don't know what it was back then, it's- it's Time

Warner now but um.. they um.. dad told me that they- they would... we didn't have cable but they... when they were

running cable they did one of these free installation deals and uh.. so dad called em up and it was like you know

'we want cable installed' and showed em where he wanted the drop and uh.. they did it and I think their some is

probably in the records somewhere, there is some provision that the free installation is for everywhere except

Kenan house (laugh) (all laugh) because of the conferences, they had to drill (crew talk)

Hayes: You mentioned the magic word the attic, were you ever allowed to go up there? I mean this is a... explain to

us the kind of the size and nature of that attic.

Wagoner: The attic is... the attic I guess covers- covers most of- most of the top- the- the actual top floor; um..

it's- its...

Hayes: Not a crawl-in the attic right?

Wagoner: No, no it's- it's a big place... size wise I have no idea of dimensions, I- I don't...

Hayes: I mean your ceiling height is what 15 feet or I mean it's...

Wagoner: Yeah and it's- it's all concrete and there- there are a couple of fireplaces in there and...

Hayes: Were you ever allowed up there or was that kind of verboten or...?

Wagoner: Well if I wanted to go (laugh) while up there you know I didn't um.. no I was allowed pretty much uh..

anywhere. I- I... they- they didn't uh.. they didn't forbid me to go anywhere but um.. yeah the attic was yeah it-

it um.. it was interesting... the...

Hayes: Did you go up there much? It doesn't sound like you went up there that much?

Wagoner: No I did... no not really and- and part of that is because it uh.. it's pretty hot up there in the summer

and it's pretty cold up there in the winter, um.. it's not...

Hayes: And there was storage right? I mean you used it like any other attic right?

Wagoner: Yes sure. Um.. we had at one time a ping pong table up there and um.. a pool table and um.. so yeah it

was- it was just storage, that's- that's all it was. Um.. the one interesting thing about the attic though is- is

all the way... you walked up the stairs to the attic and- and if you walk all the way from the stairs to the back

there's a big hump uh.. I don't know if you saw what... there's this big huge I guess it's- it's probably about 15

feet long and probably about I'd say 3 feet high and it's kind of this sloped- sloped hump that's- that's just in

the middle of the floor and it runs- it runs uh.. I... it runs parallel to the front of the house and what that is,

is the- the master bathroom is suspended on that... that's an 'I' beam that was poured into the attic into the

concrete and the whole... that whole circular um.. master bathroom is actually hanging um.. from that beam, that

'I' beam um..

Hayes: That's interesting, interesting, I didn't know that. Now the furnishings in the house, you mentioned many of

them were the Kenans...

Wagoner: Right.

Hayes: So you have memory of paintings and carvings and so forth and so on, do people assume that your parents knew

all their history, in other words were they called upon in some ways you know be guides for this or...?

Wagoner: Well yes it's interesting uh.. It's funny you mentioned that. Uh.. I was actually thinking about this last

night um.. During- during um.. parties and things and particularly during candlelight tours, um.. people would come

through and be like 'well what is...' because there were- there were really- really weird things there. Um.. one in

particularly... one- one particular story was uh.. (sigh) there was a woman out on campus who volunteered, I think

her name was something Henderson but uh.. she came out and was- was helping around giving the tour whatever and

there was this big um.. they called it... it's called a monstrance, why it's there, why it came with the house I

don't know. But what it is, is it's what um.. the... a Roman Catholic um.. priest uh.. at- at a mass they put the

Host in this like the window of this thing, it's got rays of like gold leaf it's- it's um...

Hayes: Interesting.

Wagoner: Yeah well um.. well I- I really didn't know what it... what she- she definitely didn't know what it was

and so somebody asked what- what it was and she said it was an asklaburium and what she- she'd made up the word and

in other words people- people really didn't (laugh) people really didn't care you know they... I mean you could

make up a story about um.. like there was um.. like a...

Hayes: There is no such thing as an asklaburium, I mean I don't even know what that is?

Wagoner: No, no it was a monstrance but it... yeah that was... but she had no idea and she was like "oh yeah it's

an asklaburium and it's you know it's used for..." she made up something like um.. like dog biscuits or something,

I mean something just really off the wall, I mean... so people um.. people... the- the thing is people... they

would come in and they would want- they would want to hear something and if you... and it was... and in some

instances it was better to give them what they wanted to say "oh yeah" you know "this..." Like there was a- a

statute there, I'm sure it- it's still there it's um.. of... it's like a Venus uh.. statue and uh.. people would

you know "who is that?" You say "well it's Venus you know, it's just a- it's a statue came with the house and... no

I don't really know where it came yeah.." and- and they- they will just insist with you know "now where did it come

from, where did it?" And so you know with people like that you go "well actually I'll tell you the story you know.

The... it's actually uh.. the reason why it doesn't have a face is cause it's actually a nude portrait... a nude

sculpture of Miss Kenan and..."

Hayes: Yeah you told me, and they're like...

Wagoner: You tell them anything and they "Mmm... yeah okay got ya" (laugh) so- so... but um... but it- it actually

there were um.. some of the... we'll see... a- a really good example of that is the Bouguereau. No one- no one

really knew what the... I mean they know it was a very pretty painting, it was a former French painter, Bouguereau.

but they didn't really know the- the... I guess the value of it until- until somebody who was- was... knew

something about French painting came by and saw it and it was like "oh the missing Bouguereau."

Hayes: The story that I heard that I'll put in to sort of help you to is the story that's fairly common is, is that

one of the Kenans lived in Atlanta uh.. and I'm not sure which one it was one of the... would have been

grandnephews at this point of Sarah Kenan and he was quite a patron of the arts and so he was at a uh.. an event

and the curator was telling him about this major Bouguereau exhibit that he's putting together but they couldn't

find some and he showed him some pictures and- and this Kenan said 'oh my aunt had one just like that in the

hallway' and that person from Atlanta was actually the person who came and identified and asked permission to use

this in the exhibit and they paid for the restoration and then after that exhibit uh.. now that we recognize what

it was, it was loaned to the North Carolina Art Museum for many years and now its come back and it's protected and

so forth and it's restored but that's- that's... whether that's the... you don't know whether that's the story, it

sounds... it has some ring of truth to it that they... that he says 'oh my aunt had a picture that looked like...

Riggins: Mark did you grow up with that painting? Was that just hanging on the wall?

Wagoner: Yeah, that's... yeah and like you say when they uh.. when they did the restoration Dad got a phone call

saying that they had- they had found some funny little half moon marks, I think it was mentioned to you earlier,

the half... that little half moon... little marks on it that was basically kind of a powder substance that cleaned

off fine, but they said they'd never seen this on a painting before and they were wondering if dad knew if there

was any kind of you know indigenous bacteria you know what... he wanted to know if dad... and dad was like "I have

no idea, I'm just glad that...yeah he cleaned it" and whatever. Well I- I knew exactly what it was and it was- it

was little suction dart guns that little kids have like lick it and you shoot... I used to shoot the (the painting)

with little sticky things that you know you pull them off and they're (making popping sound) and they're like that

and I'm licking them and so apparently that was a little bit of like saliva or something that rotted (cross

talking) (laugh).

Hayes: It's a painting with Cupid and...

Wagoner: Cupid yeah...

Hayes: And a nude I mean that's another thing, and arrows, no big deal just hang it on the wall.

Wagoner: I never really... you know I never really ... I can remember being in- being in- in grade school in junior


Hayes: Were you embarrassed about it?

Wagoner: No, no, no not- not embarrassed... I- I really didn't pay that much attention to it to be honest and

friends that I hadn't grown up with would come over guy friends and they- and the would be very interested in the

painting, they would you know they would look at it cause "yeah will okay" whatever you know...

Hayes: Cause you were there, I love that painting, it's in the Cameron Museum now. Have you been out to see that

exhibit? You need to go out and see that, they've taken many of the key furniture and painting items in storage and

put em in a very nice exhibit with some history about them from your house...

Wagoner: Oh okay...

Hayes: ...from the house you lived in and- and that'll be uh... The Gilded Age you would enjoy that. Although I

must say for the record that some people disagree with the assessments because these people would go over to Europe

and buy these and it was attributed to or they think it was this and- and people aren't really sure. The Bouguereau

was obviously authentic but many of them they really don't know and you're telling the story of you didn't know

what they were I'm not sure the Kenans knew exactly because you would go and you liked it and you would buy it, I

mean that was...

Wagoner: Yeah a lot of the stuff that's something that people really don't realize is that a lot of the stuff... a

lot of the furniture it wasn't like um.. like um.. like me, if- if I were to go out and wanted to buy a- a highboy

or something, you know a dresser I would... it would probably be a big purchase for me, I'll probably think and

look around and do whatever and I would... but- but for the Kenans for- for the people they way they lived back

then it was... they would go and they would see something and- and they would you know they didn't ask what it

was... you know how much it cost or they would just be like you know ship you know ship that to this address and-

and take care of it type thing and so... yeah a lot of that stuff is... you know is... no one really does know you

know what um.. the- the origins, the yeah um...

Hayes: There's one story that Marge Gates told us and- and said on the uh.. recording we did that there was this

marble kind of table that had uh.. the top wasn't that good and so forth so they put some marble in it and the

appraiser said 'oh it's uh.. a painted this' and so forth and then on closer inspection it was all engraved and had

inlay and had gold and had been there all that time and it's one of the more valuable pieces but everybody just

went 'oh it's a table, it's a nice little table.' Whereas something else you thought was more... very valuable may

not have been. I mean I don't think there's... and I think your point is, it was a private residence for her and

this is what she bought, it wasn't a museum, people can't like you said "don't have to live in a museum right."

Wagoner: Well yeah, yeah... it's- it's well it's hard you know, it can be tough but it's like I think we were

talking before um.. you turned the tape on, um.. the um.. the whole idea of just these beautiful pieces of

furniture that you could see were beautiful but they literally would slap horrible paint on. I mean you know

that... I mean gorgeous yeah cherry secretaries that uh.. they painted green for- for whatever reason (cross

talking) that was the- the way to do it back then, I don't know um..

Hayes: Style. Now was there a musical instrument in the house when you were there, because there's a piano that

someone donated...

Wagoner: Yep.

Hayes: ...I just didn't know, did you ever have a ...?

Wagoner: My- my mother was uh.. was um.. classically trained pianist...

Hayes: That's right; tell us about that, that's interesting.

Wagoner: She um...

Hayes: Church musician too right?

Wagoner: Yes, she was an organist for- for many years. Um.. she um.. she... well she grew up... she- she um.. had

polio as a child and so she spent a lot of time at the piano uh.. I guess she wasn't really allowed to go run and

play and stuff so anyway um.. but yes there was a piano. We moved in there was um.. a- a player piano there um..

and uh.. it was underneath the stairs, the main staircase and uh.. it just stayed there um.. and it never really

worked uh.. and didn't really know how to get a um.. refurbished um.. but my mother also had a grand piano in um..

I don't even know what the room would be called, but it's... if you walked in the main door, it's to the left - it

says 'big sitting room' in there.

Hayes: So that's where...

Wagoner: Yeah there was a big grand piano, now when we moved, the state came in to do inventory and um.. my mother

and father and um.. one of the Kenans I don't remember which one it was um.. but he- he walks through with them and

uh.. doing the best he could, 'this is... this came from here,' 'this is worth this much', 'what...' Well there

were- there were two pieces that uh.. he kept out of- of two- two big pieces that he kept out of the state's

inventory. Um.. one was a secretary that's in that sitting room that actually is not state property, it belongs to

um.. one of the Kenans, and they just haven't picked it up yet, it's been there for years - probably don't even

remember it, but the other one was um.. that player piano and uh.. Mr Kenan knew that my mother was a pianist and

he wanted her to have it and so he gave it to my mother. Well when we moved out um.. we moved into a- into a

regular size house, my mother had a grand piano. We didn't really have room for both and so my mother um.. somebody

had enquired about it and wanted to restore it um.. and so my mother sold it to this- this lady but um.. there


Hayes: And an interesting sidebar to that is that there are people looking for that and think they've identified

where it might be to see if there's any chance of possibly getting it to come back in to the house, I thought that

was interesting you know. Cause there's now an effort to put a call out as a remodeling... or is there furniture

that was in the Kenan house - not in your time period but more even earlier so that's interesting that that's still

alive as kind of an interesting question. But the grand piano was your moms?

Wagoner: The- the grand... yes, the grand was.

Hayes: She was a paid organist for what - the Episcopal Church right down the road there?

Wagoner: Right down the street yeah.

Hayes: For all those years, she...

Wagoner: Uh no she started out she was at a um.. was an organist at um.. First Christian um.. which is off Oleander

and um.. then my father um.. started going to uh.. St Paul's and um.. they apparently uh.. needed an organist and

so she- she was probably organist for probably 20, 25 years down at St Paul's.

Hayes: And she had that really super nice organ during that time, or did it come in that time?

Wagoner: It came in- it came in um.. a lady um.. uh.. Miss Latero [ph?]... Isabella Latero um.. she um.. wanted my

mother to have a pipe organ basically; she- she really adored my mom and so she said "before you retire" she said,

"I'm going to make sure you have a pipe organ" and so she uh.. donated the money uh.. to build that organ.

Hayes: It's an amazing organ, it's beautiful.

Wagoner: My mom... mom played it I guess about a year before she had to retire um.. and um..

Hayes: Well that's good, so she was the inaugural organist...

Wagoner: Yeah she broke it in. There was a cello uh.. I don't know where it... what it was doing up there; it was

kind of broken and cracked, you asked about musical instruments and of course the- the dinner chime, I don't know

what you would call it but the... that little dinner gong thing that boom, boom, boom you know calls like this

mahogany thing had a little felt hand and you would open it up, that was in the dining room and had the little

brass bar...

Hayes: And you would play that to tell people to come in?

Wagoner: That's... I don't think we ever did (laugh). The Kenans did I guess you know back then you know you would

do the little chime...

Hayes: Were there other paintings that were favorites of yours at all that you remember?

Wagoner: Favorites... there was- there was one guy in the den but he was... don't know if he was a Flagler [ph?] or

not but we called him Captain Kangaroo cause he looked kind of like Captain Kangaroo and uh.. he was... he kind of

had a dour expression um.. and he kind of freaked me out I guess as a kid, he was very you know very Victorian dour

just everything, um..

Hayes: Why did you mention the word Flagler? Why did you think he was a Flagler?

Wagoner: I- I... well I don't know, Flagler uh.. there's a connection um.. and I'm- I'm really am not the one to

ask about the whole Flagler Kenan connection but- but there is a connection between the Flaglers of Florida and the

Kenans and...

Hayes: He married Sarah Kenan's sister so that was the connection...

Wagoner: Okay.

Hayes: And they do think that some of the artifacts and things probably did come from Flagler as gifts and so


Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: You're exactly right, they're... it may be a Flagler that...

Wagoner: Yeah maybe a Flagler I know that uh.. that um.. some of the furniture um.. and maybe even the chandelier

um.. may have come from a place called White Hall um.. which is down... which is... the Flag... which is the

Flagler um.. homestead grand estate type thing um..

Hayes: He was the owner of the coastal railroad and then a developer in Florida, at the time perhaps one of the

richest men in America and then he married the sister and I'm sure had been up to the house, I mean that's most

likely would've been there cause they were married I think for about 10 years before he died. The events... you

mentioned the Christmas which is amazing that a whole staff could keep coming in Christmas, were there other ones

that stick in your mind that were university related events that kind of traditionally came to the house? Did you

have new faculty there? I mean that's one they do now, I didn't know if you remember that one as a...

Wagoner: Honestly a lot of it really so far as- as the reasons for being here, you... a lot of it just- just kind

of ran together...

Hayes: For you it didn't matter, right?

Wagoner: Yeah.

Hayes: There was a group there and what would you do when a group was... say it's an event and you're not part of

it - what did you did with that time? I mean hang up stairs or just...

Wagoner: Yeah I would hang upstairs but I- I really can't remember a time I wasn't part of- of an event. I mean I

can't... I was always pretty much expected to- to I guess mingle and...

Hayes: And it wasn't boring to you to talk to these people...

Wagoner: No, no not really.

Hayes: That's good; they were probably excited to... cause you're the youngest, maybe a lot of people were like "oh

a little kid again."

Wagoner: Well it does change the atmosphere, I think it was wonderful to have a small child there through the thing

because then when people that came to see the Chancellor there was a sense that there was a family and mom and dad

always tried- they tried very hard to make it um.. a home, to make it seem um.. very... make people feel very

welcome and- and very at home there. Um.. yeah I just... yeah I was always... I mean I- I... there was another-

another party um.. and I was probably a year or two older I don't- I don't remember the specific instance but uh..

dad uh.. dad told the story uh.. often and it was the governor came down again, the governor was there - he brought

um.. as his SBI... some plain clothed SBI agents I guess, they were SBI. But, anyway they were um.. just kind of as

an escort just kind of protective whatever and uh.. but they were pain clothes and so they were supposed to mingle

and- and talk and not make people nervous I guess and so um.. but one of them picked me up and was carrying around

and- and apparently his coat came open and you know and I looked down and I saw he had a gun open and I was like

"GUN!" (laughing), (cross talking) so...

Hayes: Don't you love those father keep reminding you of those stories you know?

Wagoner: Oh yeah, oh yeah.

Riggins: Do you remember that?

Wagoner: I don't remember- I don't remember that specific one. Uh.. a lot of people um.. a lot of people um..

had... had too much Christmas cheer at Kenan House a- a few times. I- I remember my mom one time uh.. she made this

uh.. I don't even know what you would call it but it was like this fruit like... it was a wreath but it was a ball,

you know like a Christmas Ball, she used real fruit and Christmas- Christmas at Kenan House started literally the

day after Thanksgiving, getting preparations, started getting everything... all the decorations and I mean it

literally was um.. and- and she made this thing very early on and I think someone or either that or some of the

faculty wives helped her make it and they hung it up in the entrance to the formal dining room and um.. after weeks

of parties and stuff there- there was this one lady who came to help out, I don't know who she... I'm not trying to

protect anybody, but I just don't- I don't remember who she was but we noticed that she really enjoyed serving the

spiced tea um.. in the formal dining room and she was always hanging out in that little doorway and we couldn't

figure out what she was doing. What- what it was she apparently was a tea totaller and uh.. for- for um.. think

according to mom religious... it was a religious thing, well what she was doing, was she was standing underneath

this ball and this ball had started to ferment and she was standing there with the cup, and it was dripping in her

cup (laugh)...

Hayes: Inadvertent drinker.

Wagoner: We made uh.. dad making the eggnog uh.. the eggnog was always stirred with a mop handle uh.. we'd make

these huge vats.

Hayes: Well now there wasn't a food service that did all of this, or did your own family end up fixing things


Wagoner: Oh yes, we had- we had um.. the- the food served the caterers helped and they helped a lot but quite a lot

of it was my mom baking and- and um.. my dad- my dad made the eggnog and uh.. I stirred and uh.. and uh.. he...

yeah it was the um...

Hayes: But for most meals there was a set... surely they didn't have to work in the kitchen to get them all ready,

I hope that there was help or...

Wagoner: No there- there definitely was help, there definitely was help.

Hayes: And the housekeeper was also in the food end of it, or was it just a housekeeper?

Wagoner: No she was in the food end of it, it- it was um.. the housekeeper really didn't um.. didn't have any set

duties. I suppose it wasn't- it wasn't... well you know "I'm just a housekeeper I'm not gonna cook and don't" but


Hayes: Everything?

Wagoner: Yeah pretty much yeah, pretty much just kind of you know...

Hayes: Do you remember when the computer came into existence? Did they try to shoehorn a computer into the house at


Wagoner: Oh well you know dad... the- the thing about that is dad uh.. dad was never afraid of computers - dad

loved computers, he thought they were great. He was very... he loved technology, he loved toys, things like that.

Um.. they- they did uh.. so he brought home... he loved Macintoshes um.. that was his thing. He had one there at

the house um.. but they did because of that uh.. that Robert Shaw program um.. for the- the heating and air

conditioner they um.. did put in a PC um.. very... one of the early uh.. I think it was a PS2 uh.. bigger um.. so

far as being wired uh.. for... this was really back before the big boom of um.. of the Internet um.. and um.. so...

Hayes: So you weren't wired to a network, it wasn't...

Wagoner: No, we were- we were actually... the... we were actually wired... I don't know that we were wired, we- we

could dial in um.. the backs uh.. out here and um...

Hayes: Cause I didn't know if he did work, did he have an office setup for himself there or not?

Wagoner: No, not- not really no. Um.. he... no he really didn't um.. he um.. he had a study but um.. no most... I

think most of... he didn't...

Hayes: ...didn't bring a lot of work home cause he was entertaining so much of the time it wasn't like...

Wagoner: Yeah, yeah it was yeah constant parties, constant uh.. people in and out and in and out and...

Hayes: What about Bill Friday, I mean I know he was a very good friend of your dad, do you remember him coming down

at all?

Wagoner: Oh yeah he was yeah he was um.. he would come down and um.. he was- he was really um.. my father really

respected Bill Friday quite a bit. Bill Friday was um.. was instrumental in the whole UNC system, getting it um..

getting it started, getting it going um.. he was kind of the statesman of the whole- the whole thing. Um.. but oh

yeah he would come down um.. he was always very busy. Um.. my dad... my father was very good friends with David

Brinkley he would come (cross talking) because David Brinkley was from here and uh.. he would come down and

sometimes stay up in the apartment just to kind of I guess go to the... I'm sorry get to the beach and things like

that. They had a beach cottage but um...

Hayes: Any other dignitaries that you remember that weren't dignitaries but they have become dignitaries?

Wagoner: I don't know, my- my... it's funny my father had um.. he was very good friends with um.. a guy named Dave

Packard of uh.. Hewlett Packard um...

Hayes: What was that, from college or something?

Wagoner: Honestly you know I- I don't know. I- I think that they- I think that they met um.. they- they met in an

airport or something when they just struck up... my father was- was very good at conversation, my father was just

very good at- at talking and people just genuinely liked him and um.. but uh.. they- they met somewhere on a- on a

plane uh.. I really don't... I don't think there was any... but uh.. they struck a... had had a pretty good

friendship, I mean through the years. Um.. trying to think anybody else. He um...

Hayes: How about your mom, did she... there was this other interesting part of you know having the set of women

friends uh.. who were necessarily tied to the university or did they kind of all end up being...

Wagoner: Well my mother... the interesting think about my mother was that she was a very, very gracious and made

people feel very welcome, but my mother was not... she was definitely not um.. she didn't... well I wouldn't say

she didn't enjoy entertaining but she could take it or leave it I suppose, it- it you know some people- some people

enjoy um.. entertaining and- and she really- she really didn't, she um.. she was very quiet. She hated telephones

uh.. didn't like TV - basically she enjoyed reading and that was- that was what- what she did. Um.. so when she

wasn't entertaining or preparing to entertain she was just... she was pretty much happy just being by herself

reading a book.

Hayes: Did she practice the piano to still?

Wagoner: Yes.

Hayes: I mean I know she was an organist but I just didn't know if she would use that piano in the sense of getting

ready for...

Wagoner: Yeah she would yeah. She would play it um.. she spent um.. probably more time at the organ um.. but um..

yeah she would play it.

Hayes: Well we have heard from other interviews that your mom was just the most gracious hostess and particularly

mentioning the faculty wives' club and that whole involvement so her reputation continues as a very positive...

Wagoner: She was- she was very- she was very, very... she was a sweet, sweet woman. I- I remember that she was

very- she was very, very dignified, she was just- just extremely dignified um.. and I remember must have been about

eight or nine and probably- probably the best- the best way to describe my mother would be if you've never met her,

would be this story. I was about eight or nine and there was a party going on and this... I... that was back during

the whole um.. ERA trying to pass the ERA legislation and there was a- there- there were a lot of militant people

on both sides and they were you know kind of going at it and uh.. anyway there was a party there and someone had-

had uh.. a woman had cornered my mom and that was something you didn't really do, she kind of like backed her into

a corner and was... and- and anyway well I had... there was a phone call for my mother and... somebody had given me

a note in the kitchen 'go find your mom and tell her there's a phone call.' When I walked out she was corned by

this- this woman and as I walked up I was kind of waiting for a lull in the conversation so I could say "mom" you

know, "here's a..." and this woman uh.. said something to the effect of "well don't you want..." and this is what I

heard in the conversation um.. she said something to the affect of "well don't you want to be equal?" And my mom

looked at her and said "why would I want to be equal, when I'm so obviously superior" (laugh) and- and I was like

okay you know, that was... and- and so I handed her the note and this woman was just kind of speechless like okay

(laugh) so... yes she was very... she was very quiet, she was very dignified um.. very gracious but uh.. she um..

it was- it was uh.. it came natural to her but it- it wasn't- it wasn't her... she didn't thrive on it, some- some

people... (cross talking).

Hayes: I think that people forget that in a chancellor's role that it's a couple and many times the second person

in the couple is expected to be a full partner in this entertainment kind of business and entertainment in the

sense of I would guess it was what thanking donors and thanking faculty and visiting governors I mean it's not

entertainment for um.. you know fun and games, it's a work entertainment right?

Wagoner: Yes, yes.

Hayes: Did you have a sense that there were times when they could entertain just for themselves? I mean was there

ever private entertainment or was it always seemed to be at a

Wagoner: Honestly no... you know honestly it... it's kind of... I... I'm trying to think of- of an analogy but it-

it... it's almost like you know somebody working in a sweet shop or something all day, the last thing they want to

do when they go home, is to eat a box of chocolate, it's- it's kind of like when it was- when it was family time it

was- it was... and again it's like I said before, my- my father in particular uh.. he was very, very um.. he was

very well spoken but he- he really was a- you know a good old Southern boy, I mean he was... he didn't yeah... he

didn't uh.. fancy balls and things like that, yeah he was you know he was happier just yeah...

Hayes: Did he ever have to do a tuxedo thing or...?

Wagoner: Oh yeah...

Hayes: Oh gosh the gowns and the tuxedoes and the...

Wagoner: Oh yeah yep. No he was... I mean he was good at it but it just never... they didn't uh.. I- I don't think

um.. they were members of the country club and they would go there every once in a while but I- I don't ever

remember and... and another you know is to like a big time for entertaining and going to parties is during

Christmas time and there were always people coming to Kenan House.

Hayes: the didn't have...

Wagoner: ...for the parties...

Hayes: they didn't have...

Wagoner: Yes so they didn't go to a lot of things and they were just kind of worn out after you know after that


Hayes: Well one last thing I want to ask you and then we'll be done, I think this is really wonderful - you were

there for a long time and then what happened when you left? I mean where did you have to go to? I mean did you go

to an apartment for yourself or did you stay with your folks and move to a house? I mean I'm just trying to get a

sense of you know living in this, if not a fishbowl, at last a somewhat different aspect?

Wagoner: Yeah well yeah I... we um.. mom and dad uh.. bought a little house for themselves in Oleander and um.. I

moved in with them to help them just kind of get things done for I guess a month or two and then I'm yeah I moved

into an apartment um.. and uh...

Hayes: How did you feel about that?

Wagoner: You know honestly it was- it was fun. The... it's um.. I don't know, it... it's kind of hard to put into

words but I... it... it's all a matter of- of I guess you get used to where you are I suppose and then- and um.. I

was... it was a good- it was a good time for me cause I was you know I was um.. still- still in college you know

and so um.. it wasn't very traumatic for me. Um.. the way we moved, the way I... the way um.. I packed up

everything in my room, the movers came and- and boxed up a lot of stuff; my mom did a lot of stuff well and one

night we were there and then the next night we weren't, so it was kind of (cross talking) it was just kind of

like... yeah I- I packed up my entire room in a night and so it was like living... yeah, yeah it was kind of a- it

was kind of a (cross talking).

Hayes: And they stayed in that house then for quite some time, in that Oleander house - your parents were there for

the next, 13, 12...

Wagoner: I guess 12, 13 years yeah (cross talking).

Hayes: So that was their home and they were happy with that.

Wagoner: Yes, well you know, it's funny they never- they never really uh.. that was- that was their home but my

mother in particular... would always think of- of Kenan House as being home. See I... I'd... it's hard for me

because I think Kenan House as being- as being home; I- I um.. because I grew up there and spent my formative years

there and- and it- it really is I- I don't know; I don't really consider any other place home, I mean it's kind of

so um.. but yeah we- we moved and it- it was you know it was again the whole size thing is I- I never really liked

big rooms anyway. I never liked uh.. I liked you know like- like this room here is- is probably about... it's- it's

probably close to the size of I guess my bedroom uh.. at the Kenan House and it uh.. um.. it's just to- it's just

to big, it... it's just way to big. It's... no matter what you do, it's always impersonal and then so uh.. no I

like small- I like small places.

Hayes: Good, where did your parents live before Kenan House?

Wagoner: They lived uh.. I think in a place called Norwood Drive um.. they moved um..

Hayes: Was he the president at that point or the superintendent?

Wagoner: He was- he was superintendent uh.. became president and lived I guess lived uh.. around Norwood um..

probably three or four months before they moved into the Kenan House. Um.. and um.. he um.. they both- they both

came from... my mother came from a by no means well-to-do but she came from a- a better I guess family than- than

my um.. they- they owned land and my- my grandfather uh.. didn't own land um.. and um.. my- my father uh.. decided

uh.. that he didn't want to be a farmer (laugh) just didn't want to do it and so he...

Hayes: Went the education route?

Wagoner: Yeah, yeah went the education route and um...

Hayes: And he came up through the schools; he was a teacher...

Wagoner: He, yeah he...

Hayes: First, and what subject was his subject?

Wagoner: Oh he taught pretty much- pretty much anything; he um.. uh.. chemistry and physics and history and uh.. I

don't think he ever taught English but uh...

Hayes: And was superintendent of the schools here?

Wagoner: He was superintendent of schools uh.. in Elizabeth City also I believe and in... moved down here uh...

Hayes: And was he selected to become the president from the schools?

Wagoner: Right yeah, he- he was selected yeah he was... um.. basically the- the... my father... it was a kinda of a

strange- strange way to- to come up. I... yeah he- he never applied... well there were two things he asked for one

was uh.. one irritated him that he had to do it but the other one it... one was to enter college um.. he had to

apply to enter college uh.. under the GI bill and the other one was for my mother to marry him and the rest of the-

the rest of his whole career and the rest of the jobs and everything else um.. they- they just kind of not fell

into his lap but people asked him so yeah he was superintendent and- and I think it was __________ Laney, um.. I

don't know why I say that but um.. who um.. who saw dad and- and asked him if he wanted to be uh.. president of

Wilimgton College and...

Hayes: It's a different process today, I guess.

Wagoner: Oh yes, yeah it's much different yeah. I think there was a search committee, I don't think that there

was... no I- I think that it was more... I think that they were actually again on a plane I think and- and or in-

in an airport or- or whatever and it was like yeah 'Dr Randall's retiring and we're thinking about you know trying

to incorporate and- and to the UNC system uh.. eventually, they're talking about this whole UNC system, would you

want to be our president?' I- I... dad... I think he had to talk him into it you know (cross talking) so yeah he

was out here- out here for quite a while uh...

Hayes: And I think the other thing that you've brought up so well is that by making that choice, the family also

then became part of that whole presidential process; because if your mom had stayed as a you know the wife of the

superintendent of the schools, it's not going to have that same entertainment component and you're not going to

live at Kenan House, so I mean it... so it was an important decision.

Wagoner: But you know the- the really... the one thing though that's really interesting about it, is people-

people... you know dad was really good at what he did; lot of people really respected... he was very nice but he

was just- he was just a great guy. Did a lot, but people don't- don't really realize that- that his true... what he

really truly wanted to do was teach. He just- he just happened to be good at administration and that was what he

did um.. and uh.. but he really... he- he always just wanted to teach, that was his thing. He would have been

probably just as happy you know teaching um.. being a professor of whatever um.. but uh.. but it... it's... he was

needed in other ways and- and... so he took the... took up the call but um.. yeah it- it was fun.

Hayes: Thank you very much.

#### End of Tape ####

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