Hill Hall was completed in 1907 as a new library, replacing separate spaces for the libraries of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies, and a small university collection. Its construction marked a step in the university's evolution into a research institution, based on the model of German universities that trained specialists as faculty and emphasized the discovery of new knowledge. Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie provided the funds, with the requirement that the university match his gift to provide for upkeep and expansion. When it opened, the Carnegie Library Building, as it was originally called, had 45,822 volumes, with room to accommodate 200,000. The UNC Bureau of Extension and the University of North Carolina Press had its beginning in this building until they outgrew their space there. In 1930, following the completion of the new University Library (now Wilson Library), the Department of Music moved into the Carnegie Building. The department added an auditorium and an organ. Durham philanthropist John Sprunt Hill and his family funded the new construction and renovations, and the university renamed the building in their honor.
John Sprunt Hill was an 1889 university graduate who built a fortune in banking, insurance, and real estate. He served as a university trustee for many years. In addition to his support for the music department, Hill donated $5,000 to the library to be used for collecting historical and literary material about North Carolina, an enterprise now known as the North Carolina Collection. During the 1920s Hill built the Carolina Inn and later donated it to the university, stipulating that its profits support the North Carolina Collection.
After a major renovation, the auditorium reopened in 2017 as the James and Susan Moeser Auditorium. It was named in recognition of former chancellor James C. Moeser and his wife, Susan. Moeser, who was chancellor from 2000 to 2008, served in administrative positions at various universities and as chancellor at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln. During his tenure at Carolina, Moeser oversaw campus-transforming construction funded through a bond referendum and the successful Carolina First fund-raising campaign; he also oversaw the creation of the Carolina Covenant. Susan Moeser is a member of the music department faculty. Both Moesers are concert organists.
Date Established: 1907
Date Range: 1907 – Present