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How Chapel Hill Put an End to Serious Crime

by Charly Mann

Throughout my childhood, and well into my teenage years, Chapel Hill was one of the safest places to live in the world. Few people in town ever locked the doors to their home or cars, and I remember the owner of a local clothing store saying he often left his store door unlocked after closing. By the mid 1960s Chapel Hill was no longer a crime free village and stores, cars, and houses were usually locked when unattended.


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v w linney      9:01 AM Sun 5/15/2011

There were a series of thefts from dorms over Christmas break and from fraternities during big social events. Highly desirable clothing like alpaca sweaters and camel hair winter coats were stolen. My boyfriend could harly rub two nickles together and the best stuff he owned was taken from Avery.

Steve Booth      2:17 PM Mon 5/2/2011

Crime should not pay, yet today it does. Few people even serve time for stealing or breaking into a home. I am all for bringing back the death penalty for armed robbery.

Bob Jurgensen      6:37 PM Sun 5/1/2011

Very interesting story Charley - I recall when I was growing up in CH in the 50&#39;s that burglary was a &quot;capital&quot; offense punishable by death. In fact I recall a school field trip in junior high, to the state prison in Raleigh and they let us see the gas chamber, which back then was the only method of execution in NC. Just seeing it and hearing how they performed executions was enough to insure I would never commit a crime, much less a capital crime. <br \><br \>I don&#39;t think burglary is punishable by death today, not sure (unless in the commission of another crime, like rape or murder) but I can only imagine the impact this would have on a &quot;village&quot; like Chapel Hill - I had never heard this story before.

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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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