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Harold McCurdy - The Polymath of Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann


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Bill Otis      8:35 AM Tue 7/6/2010

Like Claire Bennet, I took courses from Professor McCurdy in &#39;65 and &#39;66. For me, he defined what Carolina was about. His dignity, graciousness, diligence, honesty and genius were astonishing. <br \><br \>Like most of his students, I was not worthy of him, but he never held it against me. I attended his memorial at what I think was a Unitarian church after his death in 1999. I had spoken by phone with him the day before he died, but, as his wife (he had just remarried that year) told me, he was already mostly in the next world -- a world in which he strongly believed.<br \><br \>The received wisdom, I suppose, is that students from each generation find their own favorite teacher, but I have to wonder how many will ever find someone like him.

Anita Ray      5:01 PM Fri 12/25/2009

I love this story and have shared it with many of my friends.

Ron Morrison      12:11 PM Wed 12/23/2009

Please keep up your series of UNC professor profiles. These are people who really should be remembered in Chapel Hill instead of sports stars and musicians.

Bill Blythe      4:25 PM Tue 12/22/2009

I agree with McCurdy&#39;s views on education for young children. I also want to compliment you on the breadth and depth of your coverage of UNC and Chapel Hill. I really enjoying reading this blog.

Claire Bennet      7:46 PM Mon 12/21/2009

I took two classes from Dr. McCurdy in 1965 and 1966. He was by far the best and most memorable teacher I have ever had. Thanks for providing this background on him.

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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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