Inside Erin And Ben Napier's Special Connection With Their Alma Mater

Laurel, Mississippi, has become synonymous with Ben and Erin Napier. The HGTV "Home Town" hosts have renovated 50 homes and counting in the southern city, and they are especially proud of the vibrant, historic downtown community. But if there is one other place that feels like home to the Napiers, it would have to be Jones College. Located just 20 minutes away from Laurel, the community college in Ellisville, Mississippi, holds a special place in their hearts. In 2004, it was the setting of their meet-cute when Erin, a staff member of the school paper, interviewed all-around popular guy Ben.

In a special episode of "Home Town" in January 2024, the longtime lovebirds revealed a special new connection to Jones College. While at their former school, the Napiers were informed that one of the schools on the college campus would be named after them. Channel 12 WJTV reports that the maintenance building at Jones College is currently in the process of renovations. Once finished, it will be renamed the "Erin and Ben Napier School of Design and Building Arts." Students who attend courses in the building will learn a variety of skills and trades, ranging from interior design to HVAC and electrical work.

After the on-camera announcement, Ben and Erin started getting a little weepy. In a clip posted to Instagram by HGTV, Ben responds, "Pretty cool," although he is visibly moved, while Erin gushes, "It's kind of unbelievable ..."

The school is significant to the Napiers

During a camera confessional for "Home Town," Ben Napier moves from tough to teary, talking about how Jones College is naming a building after him and his wife, Erin. He begins, "It's not so much an honor for us," before trying to hold it together, eventually continuing, "Our grandparents, our parents, but then our daughters." Jones College isn't just special to the HGTV celebs, but also to their family.

In the HGTV episode, the Laurel Mercantile co-owner notes, "We had our first date in the student union. Everyone on both sides of our family went to school here." Reportedly, the parents and grandparents of the couple also call the community college their alma mater. Erin confesses that, hopefully, their daughters, Helen and Mae, will attend the school someday as well.

The couple was at Jones College to renovate a historic faculty housing building that was once the residence of the college's overseer, which they refer to as the "Old President's Home." Its current inhabitants, Ginny and Jon Ryan, are connected to the school, as Jon serves as the president's Chief of Staff. Erin shared a few gorgeous photos of the renovation on Instagram, captioning the snaps, "@jones_college will always be home for everyone who leaves it."

The Napiers are connected to another school, too

There was a bit of confusion amongst commenters on Erin's Instagram about the announcement from her and Ben Napier's alma mater, Jones College. One wrote, "I thought y'all met at Ole Miss?" with another asking, "Did you transfer to Ole Miss your sophomore year?" The Napiers are also alumni of the University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss.

Erin replied to one, "Freshman and sophomore at Jones for AA then transferred to Ole Miss for junior and senior for BFA." The couple technically met and fell in love at Jones College, then decided to move to the University of Mississippi together. People reports that Ben shared on his social media profile in April 2023, in honor of the school's giving day, "While attending @jones_college, I lived with my best friend who convinced me to transfer to @olemiss, @erinapier transferred with me and for 2.5 years, I worked as hard as I could to earn a degree." From the southern university, Erin graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Art with an emphasis in Graphic/Web Design, and Ben with a degree in History.

The University of Mississippi is near and dear to their hearts for another reason, too. In November 2008, the sweethearts were married on campus, holding their wedding at the school's Paris Yates Chapel. Both institutions have commemorated their alumni; similarly, the Napiers have expressed deep gratitude for each of their former schools.