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A Photographic Tour of early 1950s Chapel Hill and UNC

One day in 1796 William Davie was leaning against a poplar tree in a beautiful isolated forest in the center of North Carolina. He thought the place was so beautiful that it would make a great location for the nation's first state university and the town to support it. Davie Poplar still stands more than 200 years later, and a town and university aged with tradition now have replaced most of the surrounding dense forest. I was born into this town 64 years ago, yet have little recollection of my first four years there. This photographic essay is made up of a wide variety of images that clearly portray what Chapel Hill, UNC, and the people who lived there then looked like and behaved.

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Comments:

Bill A      4:52 PM Wed 3/26/2014

Charly,

You mention the bleachers being rolled out in Woollen Gym for home basketball games. To me that was only the half of it; how about the rickety additional bleachers that were erected to increase seating to, as I recall, 4500? Not unusual to see them from the underside diagonally reinforced with a 2x4 here and there. Sitting up high added new meaning to the phrase "The stands were rocking"!
 

Jennifer Cross      8:39 AM Thu 2/20/2014

I am always amazed at how much you remember about the Chapel Hill of your youth. I am a few years younger than you and remember a wonderful bakery near The Carolina Theater that I think was called "Thels". If you have information and photos of that place I would really enjoy an article about it.
 

Art D.      7:18 PM Wed 2/19/2014

This photo collection is fabulous Charly. I hope you do more time period picture pieces in the future.

I heard that a couple of years ago you took some Chapel Hill Memories readers on a road trip to Chapel Hill related places around the United States. Are you going to do that again? If so I would be very interested in signing up.
 

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Bite Sized Facts Link



Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.

 

 

What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.

-- Charles Kuralt

 

 

Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".

 

 

Check out Charly Mann's other website:
Oklahoma Birds and Butterflies

http://oklahomabirdsandbutterflies.com

 



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.

 

 

The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.

 

 

 

 

The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.

 

 

 

 

William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.

 

 

The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.

 

 

Chapel Hill's main street has always been called Franklin Street. It was named after Benjamin Franklin in the early 1790s.

 

 



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.

 

 

Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.

 

 

The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.

 

 

Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.

 

 

Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.

 

 

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