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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

William Rand Kenan, Jr. (1872-1965) and Kenan Laboratories

William Rand Kenan, Jr. (1872-1965) Kenan Laboratories, completed 1971

The university opened the Kenan Laboratories building in 1971 and named it for William Rand Kenan, Jr., class of 1893. As a chemistry student, Kenan assisted in experiments that identified calcium carbide and acetylene gas. After graduation, he traveled to five continents to set up plants for acetylene production. He later joined oilman Henry Flagler in developing the east coast of Florida. His sister, Mary Lily Kenan, married Flagler in 1901 and inherited much of his large estate. After her death in 1917, Kenan inherited most of her substantial fortune. He gave generously to such university projects as the football stadium, the chemistry department, and the University of North Carolina Press.