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The Little Red School House of Chapel Hill, NC

by Charly Mann


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Tom      12:54 PM Wed 2/8/2012

I lived in the attic apartment one session of summer school in 1963.<br \>My roomate , after a long afternoon in Clarence&#39;s - discovered the bell rope in a closet , and decided to give a concert. Police came and since they all knew him , as he was a local , only took the rope and asked him to behave. Was also midnight and about 110 degrees.<br \>This guy is long dead , but was part of the Chapel Hill color.

walter fields III      1:27 PM Mon 8/15/2011

Yes, my grandfather built the LRSH but not only did my sister Patricia walk to school from our house on Dawes street but my other sister Melinda Nanette Fields and I all walked to school there as well. I recognize so many of the names and wonder where they have all gone as life sent us on our various ways. Ah, those were the days......<br \><br \>Thanks so much for your efforts in putting all the wonderful information together.<br \><br \>

Dail Chamblee White      2:19 PM Fri 6/3/2011

My twin sister and I attended kindergarten at the LRS during the 1955-56 school year (it could have been 56-57). I would love to have a group picture if anyone has a copy.<br \><br \>

John Shearer      12:12 AM Mon 5/30/2011

Just happened on this site by way of friend Susan Hogan. I remember living on Westwood Drive from 1948 and being led by my mother through the backyard and side drive way of Mrs. Windsor&#39;s house on Dogwood Drive to get to the LRS for my first day of kindergarten. . .and then finding my way back home later that day-quite a journey for a 5 year old. Went on to the first grade in the basement of the University Baptist Church uptown where the blacboards can still be found on the walls of the classrooms even today. <br \><br \>I took piano from Mrs. Windsor for three or four years under extreme duress, but am so grateful for that early exposure to music which has meant so much to be all my life. After she passed the Henry House family moved in and my classmate Charles House of University Florist still resides there today. The Little Red Schoolhouse lives again in our memories - I liked the swings most of all but couldn&#39;t go as high and wild as others in my class.

Terri Bass Jones      4:56 PM Sun 5/29/2011

Anyone have pics from 1961 or 1962? I enjoyed reading the article. I haven&#39;t thought about the Little Red School House in so long! I remember meeting Elaine Gravitt there, we remained friends through High School but unfortunately have lost touch with her. I also remember being Mary Mary Quite Contrary in one of the plays. That certainly fit!<br \><br \>Terri Jones

ken jackson      3:39 PM Wed 10/13/2010

got any pics from the early 60s?

George Steel      10:48 PM Mon 7/26/2010

Thank you for the gift of this piece on the Little Red School House, Charly. I attended the Little Red School House as a first grader in &#39;55-&#39;56 because I had a late birthday and wouldn&#39;t have been able to start 1st grade in a public school until a year later. The Little Red School House was where I split my head open when I fell on the rock wall. I still have the scar. I had a crush on Barbara Thomas and managed to sit beside her in our class picture. West Mattis taught me that 12x12=144. I was a Wise Man in the Christmas play. We weren&#39;t supposed to wear shoes for the play, and my big toe stuck out of a hole in my sock. When my mother in the audience saw it she couldn&#39;t stop giggling.<br \><br \>This piece confirms that I didn&#39;t dream it all happened.<br \><br \>Thank you, Charly.

Tom Carswell      4:13 PM Sat 6/5/2010

I have many fond memories of the Little Red School House. My parents <br \>were good friends of Mrs. Harris. I&#39;m 52 in the year 2010 and I still have memories of sitting on the rock wall while waiting for orange juice and saltine crackers that were serve at recessed. At that time I remember Mrs. Cook, Mrs. Cheek, and of course Mrs. Harris as the teachers.<br \>I was often teased by my brothers that I flunked kindergarten. My mom had talked Mrs. Harris into letting me attend when I was 4 and then again at 5.<br \>My Mom worked with my Dad at the Drug store.<br \><br \>I remember the black Crow that flew around the School House. I remember he would pull back the cars windshield wipers and let them go as my mom would drive up the hill from the school.<br \>He was accused of flying into windows and taking items of value as well. <br \>I often wonder what happen to that old bird.<br \><br \>From time to time we would see Mrs. Harris and she always looked the same, never to age and always pleasant.<br \>A fine lady, I will never forget.<br \><br \>Tom Carswell

Allan (Jay) Josselyn      9:09 AM Sat 5/29/2010

I was really stunned to see this article. I just kind of stumbled on it. My earliest memories of school were of, fittingly, the Little Red School House.<br \>I don&#39;t remember too much, but one of my favorite activities was recess when we were(sometimes) provided with big inflated inner tubes to play with. We would drag them up a hill behind the school building and let them roll to the bottom as we chased them and controlled their direction with a stick or something similar. It could get a bit rowdy, but I am sure the teachers appreciated our relative calm from exhaustion when we would return inside after recess<br \><br \>Also Davey Crocket was my idol in those days

Susan A. Fisher      9:47 PM Wed 3/17/2010

What fun to see this article and the photos. I attended kindergarten at the Little Red School House in 1955-56. I remember being the Christmas fairy in a school production. I was supposed to gently tap the children playing toys on the head and bring them to life, but I got a bit enthusiastic and my mother could tell by the startled looks on their faces and blinking eyes that I was pretty much bonking their little heads with my wand. Belated apologies.<br \><br \>We got to spend our days there in creative play, surrounded by dedicated teachers. Since there were no public kindergartens then in NC, those of us who attended the warm and welcoming Little Red School House were very fortunate indeed. <br \><br \>

Ann Wadsworth Beck      5:25 PM Sun 1/3/2010

I too attended the Little Red School House.....kindergarten from Sept.1946 through first grade graduation in May 1948. Somewhere in the darkest recesses of the attic is my graduation picture. Mrs. Cook and Mrs. Thompson were our teachers. Now, here&#39;s the non-PC part. Corporal punishment was allowed then and took the form of having one&#39;s open palm smacked with a ruler and one of my most vivid memories was being so punished (only once) for &#39;talking instead of listening&#39; one day. I&#39;m afraid that I don&#39;t remember many of my classmates but Geddie Carlisle (walked to school from Pittsboro Rd.....barefoot half of the time!) and Tommy Scott do stick in my mind......Geddie for getting his palm smacked quite a few times and Tommy because I was in love with him. Sadly, Geddie died some years ago after we had graduated from CHHS in 1960. Tommy moved to Davidson after we graduated from the Little Red School House and I lost track of him. Sigh. <br \> <br \>We went on to the elementary school on Franklin St......Mildred Mooneyhan, principal...... where our second grade class had both first and second grades in one room. WWII had brought so many students to UNC on the GI Bill that the school was jammed with children. I think there were many lower classes doubled up to make room for the older classes to have rooms to themselves....some used the auditorium, lunch room, and library too. <br \> <br \>That time also brought trailer parks set up in every available open lot in town and on the campus to accomodate the GI families. Behind Swain Hall and the Methodist Church was the one I was most familiar with since that was our church and I had a friend who lived in a trailer there. I thought it was the neatest thing to live in a little play house like that. Today&#39;s trailers are mansions compared to the tiny boxes they had then! No AC, to boot! <br \>But.....I just can&#39;t remember when all the trailers disappeared. But, that&#39;s another story. <br \> <br \>I could go on and on and on having lived in CH from birth until I went away to college in 1960. My parents lived there until 1990. I was a university brat......father, director of Mens&#39; Housing.......mother, Central Records.......Uncle Robert, chancellor. <br \> <br \>I only include that last paragraph for your use, Charly, as a help in placing me in the CH loop of folks who enjoy your site only recently introduced to me. Small town that CH was in the &#39;40s and &#39;50s, there weren&#39;t many folks we didn&#39;t know or, at least, know of. Thank you for the site and great mind pictures it evokes! <br \> <br \> <br \> <br \> <br \> <br \>

Charly Mann      8:46 PM Sat 12/19/2009

Thank you so much Sarah for your information on Mrs, Wettach. I was just at those rocks myself, and had several photos taken of me there as well. Please send me an e-mail with further details of your recollections. Mine are actually very spotty in terms of nursery and elementary school.

Sarah Geer      6:11 PM Sat 12/19/2009

Charlie, a minor correction: the nursery school near the Porthole was run by Mrs. Wettach (not Wettig), whose husband was the greatly respected dean of the UNC Law School. I remember Mrs. Wettach and some of our games and activities at the nursery school very well, especially the enormous rocks where we would wait for our mothers to pick us up. (They don&#39;t look enormous to me any more.) I used to joke that I started school at Mrs. Wettach&#39;s kindergarten, and finished it at Van Hecke-Wettach building, the UNC Law School, named after Robert Wettach. Thanks for collecting all this information. It&#39;s a treasure trove of memorabilia of our era. Sarah (then Sally) Geer

Francie Ellis Segar      5:37 AM Mon 10/12/2009

Great memories of the Little Red School House. Our mom...(Barbara,Marybeth,Francie &amp; Frieda)...Elizabeth Ellis was the music teacher there for several years. She taught music to James Taylor! Other teachers were Cora Lee Berkut,Grady Cook and Auburn Harris.<br \>I remember playing those bottles and being very nervous when I had to sit in my nightgown in a little rocking chair at one of the end-of-the-year programs.<br \>Somewhere I have other photos of earlier classes. Will send them to you as soon as I can find them(and blow off the dust!)<br \>Francie

Emily Robison      1:38 PM Wed 9/30/2009

Thanks for the piece about The Little Red School House. From 1986 to 2002 we lived across the street from what use to be this school, and always wondered about the building&#39;s history.

Miranda Black      9:42 AM Tue 9/29/2009

I&#39;m jealous of you guys from the 50s. I grew up in Chapel Hill in the mid 1980s, and that idea that a five year old girl could walk several blocks and then through the woods to get to kindergarten is preposterous to me. I don&#39;t think my parents let me cross a steet by myself in town until I was eleven.

Bob Jurgensen      7:33 AM Tue 9/29/2009

Thanks again Charly, <br \><br \>...for all your efforts to post these glorious details about CH and it&#39;s people. I too was a Little Red School House kindergartener and we were indeed classmates! I even found my step-brother Kris in one picture and my Aunt Jo in another picture on a different section. This is no doubt an act of love for your hometown and it&#39;s people and as such it reflects the lure of CH that I suspect looms in all of us. <br \><br \>Having spent the majority of my formulative years growing up there, my mom being an editor (Town &amp; Gown section) of the CH Newspaper for some 30 years (on and off), which back then was a weekly paper... connects me even more so. My grandmother owned a home on Rosemary St where she ran a beauty parlor (Nonnie&#39;s Beauty Nook, if I recall correctly) out of of the back of her home. I recall one name, Mrs. Marley, who lived across the street, who was one of her beautificians. As a child growing up I vividly recall the odors of a beauty parlor (permanents!) and the coming and going of woman who went in looking, well, less than beautiful and who came out &quot;all dolled up&quot; - fascinating to a 6 year old boy.<br \><br \>One story I will share with all about the Little Red School House, that my mom used to speak of often, was the day Hurricane Hazel came to visit CH in 1954. I recall some of those details but not much - however according to my mother she learned the storm was coming by AP wire at the paper and took off to pick me up early from the school, dodging trees and limbs to and fro, to take me to the safety and sanctuary of my grandmother&#39;s home - who just happened to have a basement. She got us there in the nick of time, because a huge oak tree fell on the beauty parlor section of her house only minutes after our arrival - I can recall, vividly, the pounding rain on those little tiny windows in her basement. <br \><br \>When the eye of the storm arrived, my (step)grandfather (we called him Pop, but his name was Joseph Rockefeller Bissell, yes he was related to THE Rockefeller&#39;s, and had a card in his wallet to prove it), who was convinced it was all over, went outside to investigate and I can remember my grandmother screaming at him to get back inside because there was more storm to come. She was right, of course, because the siren(claxon?) on top fo the PD started to go off again - (side story: back then the town siren would wale with X number of pulses - each one had a specific meaning - primarily it was used back then to call volunteers to the Fire Dept, but if I remember correctly, the front of the phone book had the codes to decipher what they meant - since CH was a relatively small town back then, it clould easily be heard from the Carrboro line to the far side of the campus - which was maybe Memorial Hospital area). <br \><br \>No sooner than she managed to wrangle him back inside, the storm started up again as we huddled in the basement; my mother, being somewhat terrified of storms, had us all pretty scared that day because of her [in this case, well founded] fears of storms in general. I later learned that those fears apparently do pass through DNA as my youngest daughter has that same healthy fear of storms to this day.<br \><br \>I fully plan to go through my archive of goodies from my mom&#39;s [Paquita Morton (Fine) Jurgensen Shaffer] chest of memories that I inherited upon her death and share those with you over the Fall months as I sort them out - this is one great excuse to organize all this stuff and digitize it for my children&#39;s memory books, so you now have me hooked - I hope OTHERS will share as well - you have obviously spent so much time doing this it would be such a small task on the part of others to dig a little and share what they have to further enhance and enrich the content of this site, which, as far as I am concerned, is already a wealth of information if you were to stop now - which I hope you don&#39;t. <br \><br \>So many hundreds of thousands of students have walked, cried, celebrated and have fond memories of the streets of CH, especially Franklin St, that this site strikes a chord in us all, even those &quot;temporary&quot; citizens of CH. It is so well balanced and forthright, the good, the bad and yes, even the mystery of crimes of CH are included, I think you deserve a MEGA &quot;Gold Star&quot; from the Little Red School House gang! GOOD JOB CHARLY!!! I look forward to helping you enrich it even more in the coming months.<br \><br \>Bob (Buddy / Robert Fine) Jurgensen <br \>(I changed my name in my late teens to my step-father&#39;s, Kai Jurgensen, for personal reasons and the love he instilled in me for life, something I had nearly lost growing up in a broken home)<br \>PS: should any of my long lost friends wish to contact me directly, to touch base or perhaps just say hello, my email is, fittingly enough: <br \><br \>TarHeelinVA@aol.com - I would love to hear from YOU!

George Clark      8:17 PM Mon 9/28/2009

Thanks for doing the piece on the Little Red School House. I&#39;ve been looking for years for something on my former kindergarten.

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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


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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