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Chapel Hill Before Air Conditioning

by Charly Mann

Chapel Hill has always been hot in the summer, and not long ago that heat had to be endured without air conditioning in homes, cars, schools and most businesses. For those of you too young to remember you might wonder how we endured without melting away. The truth is those days were comfortable primarily because we beat the heat by being outdoors a lot more than today. Much of that time was spent sitting on a front porch where we would socialize with neighbors, or just talk to people who were passing by in front of our homes.


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Bill A      2:13 PM Thu 11/3/2011

Somehow, missed this posting until now, Charly. As good writing will do, took me back in time to places and events from the 50s and 60s. During Army days at Ft. Sill, had what the locals in Lawton called an "air cooler" that worked along the lines of the window-hung automobile unit you described and the "swamp cooler" mentioned by another reader. If the temp was upper 90s or higher with very low humidity, did give some relief. Otherwise, a couple of good fans seemed to be more effective!

v w linney      3:21 PM Mon 9/19/2011

What you describe is known as a swamp cooler. Neighbors in Texas cooled their whole house with a similar contraption.<br \>

Dave Harrison      9:49 AM Mon 8/15/2011

I lived in Chapel Hill as a youth from 1948 to 1951 and recall Sparrow&#39;s Pool. Do you know when and why it closed? It was a great place.

Ellen Raskin      12:53 PM Wed 8/10/2011

There’s an incredible amount of content out there on the web about what life in the United States was like before 1980, but as a graduate student in history at Stanford I must say this one contains the most worthy content for research of this era. I wish there was an easier way to differentiate worthwhile content. It took me more than a year of searching to find Chapel Hill Memories.

Steven Silverleaf      8:23 AM Wed 8/10/2011

I remember professional offices in Durham that would have three oscilating fans going at once and stacks of papers with weights of various types to hold them down and the edges (of stacks of paper) would flutter violently as the three fans kept the air moving. It would make a great video even now and you wanted to stand in the middle of the gale force breeze and not leave.

Susan Clark      6:31 AM Tue 8/9/2011

I guess the huge growth of Chapel Hill coincided with the time air-conditioning became standand in homes and cars. I cannot image living in Chapel Hill without it.

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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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