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Archwood once again to be APSU president's home

3/26/2001
March 26, 2001

Historic Archwood, the 19th-century Italianate-style home between Claxton and the new science building, once again will become the residence of Austin Peay's president.

Subject to the approval of the State Building Commission executive committee, proceeds from the sale of the Dunbar Cave Road home will be used to construct a privacy wall around Archwood and convert the kitchen and bathrooms for residential use. The property on Dunbar Cave has been the President's Residence since 1980.

Prominent businessman Samuel Rexinger built Archwood, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, in 1878 on a lot purchased by his wife for $2,500 in 1869. The total construction cost of Archwood was $6,000 during a time when a family of four could live well on $900 a year.

Designed to be airy, the front rooms have 14-foot ceilings. The fireplaces in the downstairs reception rooms have their original mantles, and all woodwork is walnut. The stairway ends in the front entry hall with a carved newel-post. Amazingly, the imported, etched-glass front door was not broken by the 1999 tornado that lifted the roof off the building.

Throughout the1890s, various faculty of Southwestern Presbyterian University lived in the home. After Southwestern vacated the campus in 1925, several families owned the house. During World War II, it became an apartment building. In 1948, it was converted back to a one-family residence.

Archwood was purchased by APSU to use as the President's Residence in 1965, and Presidents Joe Morgan and Robert O. Riggs lived there. In 1980, during its occupancy by the Riggs family, it suffered interior fire damage, but the exterior remained intact. Shortly thereafter, Austin Peay purchased the home on Dunbar Cave Road.

During 1981-82, Archwood was converted into faculty offices and used as such until the1999 tornado tore away the roof, resulting in interior water damage. By September 2000, Archwood was restored to its original glory, with care taken to ensure each detail is true to the original.

Hoppe said Archwood will be "a gathering place for faculty and staff as well as our home." The goal is for the Hoppes to occupy Archwood by July 1.