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The Shack of Chapel Hill

For Chapel Hill residents and UNC students of the1960s and 70s no other bar in town was as quintessential as The Shack on Rosemary Street. It literally was an old shack that seemed to just barely be standing.

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Comments:

Charles Young UNC'70      12:55 PM Fri 12/16/2011

The Shack occasionally ran ads in the Daily Tar Heel. A couple that I remember were quite understated: "Come down before it falls down" and "The Shack offers nothing. Cold beer and conversation." You did mostly stand while in The Shack, but if you wanted to sit, there were a few booths along one wall that had old school bus seats or maybe some wooden seats from an auditorium or a movie theater. Decor was not emphasized, and the floor in places had a wave or two underneath. The floor made you feel as if you had already had a few too many. Eclectic juke box. Great times, but then near the end of the 60s it became fashionable with the Greeks. Greeks were bad enough ( I was in a fraternity myself so I can bitch about too many button down collars and khakis), but the place was ruined when the movie people showed up.
 

Rick Hutchins      11:06 PM Mon 12/12/2011

Wow. I remember going to the Shack for 45 cent long neck beers, 35 cents at happy hour. 3333 on the bowling machine. warped floor.

bar next door called kirkpatrick's. I ended up working there.
 

Phil Sloop      1:45 PM Wed 10/26/2011

I spent some time matriculating at the Shack when I was in school (class of '68). I remember some of the ads that they would run in the DTH - "Come down before it falls down" and "When you are down in the dumps, these are the dumps to be down in."
 

T-Ball      7:43 PM Fri 7/8/2011

Seaton is completely delusional. He graduated in 1973 and never would have been admitted to The Shack once he was in graduate school. The bowling machine gambling game was 3333 . The (student) bar manager was a friend of mine and he bailed me out of the Chapel Hill pokey on April Fool's Day 1976 with $200 from the till while Wheaties was in Europe (I did pay it back eventually). Don't know why I was charged to this day--I only blew a 1.7.
 

Nick      12:41 PM Wed 5/11/2011

The Shack had a terrific, self-deprecating ad in the DTH:

"The Shack: When You're Down In The Dumps, This Is The Dump To Be Down In"

The Shack also featured cheap beer, and you could write or draw on the walls. Remember the sloping floor? I don't think The Shack had an actual foundation.
 

richard woodell      9:57 PM Mon 8/23/2010

To Dianne Thompson Rolwing.

I remember a very beatufil blonde-haired lady named Dianne Thompson, whom I met at the SHACK during the Christmas holidays of 1967. I was friends with the likes of Mike Taff, Jonny Barrett, Jeff Lalanne, and several others. That YOU by any chance?

Best regards,

Rick Woodell
 

richard woodell      9:42 PM Sun 8/22/2010

It was even more fun when I was legally old enough to be there.

The juke box had a terrific selection of all the great Carolina "Beach Music" tunes. The place had a real ambiance that is truly missed, even today!
 

Richard Woodell      3:09 PM Sun 8/22/2010

At only 15 years old, the "Shack" was my favorite hangout.
If you could come up with a quarter, the old man who ran it
(Fred Sparrow?) didn't care how old you were. Put a quarter on the counter, and he'd pour you an ice cold Michelob on draught. Talk about something that tasted GREAT on a hot, humid, Chapel Hill summer day!

I held down a summer job at the Colonial Press, and at lunch time, I'd peddle by bicycle to the Burger Chef on Rosemary Street, get a couple of cheesburgers, then walk across the street to the SHACK for a cold beer!

No doubt about it. I was running with some fast company
 

L. Armstrong      3:12 PM Fri 8/20/2010

Pete Cleveland (Beta) and I went by to take one last look at The Shack one morning on 5-13-79 after it closed permanently. Although the floor and the bar were heavily littered with paper and garbage, I spotted the 1975-1976 Orange County Business License - a real find and a fun souvenir.

The photos I took were funny and typical "Shack". The front window was matched by a hole in the wall nearly as big as the window.
 

Katherine      1:54 PM Sun 8/8/2010

This photograph was taken by an old Beta at Chapel HIll is who is currently a local in the area whom I've known since early 80's. He has the only original print and sent it in an email to a few friends after a reminiscing at a dinner party. Then forward all over America I am guessing. Amazing how it ironically ended in my emailbox 9 years ago with the attached original email. Does the person who posted this know the original photographer? Or did they receive it over email.
 

LEE GREENE      10:10 AM Fri 5/7/2010

Met my wife Paula Hobbs there the summer of '78. Not sure but I think the shack was built for the Chi Phi Fraternity and Thursday nights. Can hear it now "Shack Team, moving out." Lots of Izods and heavily starched button downs.
 

Dianne Thompson Rolwing      7:13 PM Thu 11/19/2009

I remember the matchbooks given out at The Shack - "Come down to The Shack before it falls down"
 

Bob Jurgensen      10:29 PM Sat 9/26/2009

My grandfather used to practically LIVE at the Shack, much to the chagrin of his wife; they lived almost across the street, next door to the Greek frat house and he would slip over there every day for a few beers and come back, all 100', loaded - and she would give him hell. I was about 5 then, and would spend my afternoon's there after kindergarten at the Little Red School House - and recall vividly his getting in trouble regularly. MANY YEARS LATER, I was a police cadet and used to go on ride along and we would "shake the doors" of local businesses - it was fairly routine to find the door unlocked at 3AM - we would eat some of those picked franks and nabs (neko cookies) and treat outself to a few sodas THEN call the owner and ask him to come lock up - we loved finding it open - midnight buffet! What fun to see this old building - I remember it looking just like that - ready to fall down.
 

Gene Smith      1:53 PM Sun 9/6/2009

The Shack was originally opened by my grandfatherT.B.(Brack)
Creel in the mid 40's. It was then like a cracker barrell atmosphere complete with pickled pigs feet, pickled eggs, and the most important... beer. The restroom consisted of a lime based barrell in the back of the building.
It was frequented mostly by UNC professors and well known locals such as Norman Cordon, John Umstead, and Dr. Billy Abernethy. Granpa sold the business to his brother-in-law, Troy Harville in the 60's.
 

jake mills      8:52 AM Mon 8/17/2009

The floor of the Shack was so uneven it was commonly observed that if you dropped a marble on it it would roll for several days or until interfered with. In spring and summer a kudzu vine in the back of the building would grow through cracks in the wall boards and cover much of the inside of the mens' restroom.

Then there was the time a lady became irate because of her husband's attentions to another lady and let loose a can of MACE, spraying the whole place and running all the customers out....
 

Charly Mann      5:17 PM Thu 8/13/2009

I will be doing a feature on Brady's Restaurant soon. It was my favorite restaurant in Chapel Hill for years.
 

tbone      12:40 PM Thu 8/13/2009

I do remember the shack BUT does anybody ever remember the famous Brady's Restaurant?
 

G Strowd      1:41 PM Mon 8/3/2009

Great to see a picture of the Shack. As I recall it was next to the Police Station on Rosemary Street.
 

H Camp      4:25 PM Sat 8/1/2009

What a blast from the past. Your readers should know that all bars could serve in those days was beer.
 

Henry Carter      6:03 PM Fri 7/31/2009

Wow - Can it really be 30 years since The Shack closed. Those really were the days.
 

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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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