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Maynard Adams - The Philosopher Of Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann

While Chapel Hill is proud of the athletic glory of past UNC sporting teams, famed musicians who once called the town home, and its magnificent setting and beauty, it is the large number of great minds that have inhabited the town that make it so extraordinary. While these individuals have not received the wide spread adulation and celebrity status of other residents, Chapel Hill Memories will try to rectify this oversight by occasionally profiling some of these people.


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Tom York      1:24 PM Thu 3/18/2010

I read Glenn Blackburn's biography of Maynard Adams and his ideas, and it is a powerful and well-written book. In it you will learn that Adams' ideas are probably more profound and relevant than any philosopher since the time of the ancient Greeks. His philosophy is highly practical because it makes you look at the meaning of the words you use and what you value. There were many other concepts in his philosophy resonated with me. For example he lays out how we can live in a society that is neither capitalistic or socialistic and has a far smaller military than today. It may sound like an idealized world, yet Blackburn does a great job explaining how Adams believes this can become reality. I think if more attention was paid to this book and Adams' philosophy the 21st century would soon be a far better place to live in.

Dennis Sawyer      9:27 PM Wed 3/17/2010

I saw a speech by Maynard Adams in the mid 80s about the value of culture. As I recall he said there is nothing more important than a nation's culture because that is where we get our values. He gave examples of how a country and people improve if they enhance their culture and morals values, and decline if they do not. I got the impression he was worried about how we value the family and intimacy today in America.

Charly Mann      11:42 AM Wed 3/17/2010

I totally agree with Jill. I just finished A Society Fit for Human Beings. It is very well written and really opens your mind to a lot of questions few people ever talk about today. <br \>You can get this book off Amazon. (I got mine for about $10 a few months ago.) I am thinking of getting the Glenn Blackburn book that details a tremendous amount of Adam&#39;s thinking. Thus far I have only read excerpts of it on-line. <br \>I have not read the Metaphysics of Self and the World, but I think Jill is probably the best source for recommendations. <br \>I am still amazed at how much writing this man did, and wonder where he got the time. I believe much of it was done on a typewriter. <br \>Another wonderful thing I recall about the Adams family was an amazing built in cabinet and book case in his son&#39;s Steve&#39;s room. I got the impression that this was designed and perhaps built by Maynard. My memories of this are as a young boy of about 7 ( I was a couple of years younger than Steve, and a few years older than Jill), I actually remember it being like a small cave that you could crawl into. <br \>

Jill Adams      10:32 AM Wed 3/17/2010

Although Robert Macy&#39;s question is directed to Charly, I&#39;ll take a stab at answering it, leaving Charly to chime in as well. I think the most accessible of my dad’s books, and the one that most fully explores the implications of his philosophy for the general culture is A Society Fit for Human Beings. My dad, I think, viewed The Metaphysics of Self and World as his fullest explanation of his core views.

Robert Macy      10:12 AM Wed 3/17/2010

This is an inspiring piece. What book by Adams do you think best captures his ideas?

Martha Elliot      2:10 PM Tue 3/16/2010

Thank you so much for doing this blog. I especially enjoyed reading about the life of Professor Adams in his own words!<br \>Just imagine being able to have a long and I guess well paid career as a philosopher in Chapel Hill.

Jim Baucom      12:10 PM Tue 3/16/2010

I lived a couple of houses away from Maynard, and remember very well when he was digging the basement (we said he was digging to China). I am happy to say my initials and handprint are in the foundation! Greenwood...what a great place to grow up.

Jill Adams      10:29 AM Tue 3/16/2010

Charly, Thanks for this piece on my Dad. He was quite remarkable in many ways. One of my favorite stories of yor dad and mine, is one about their hikes in the mountains. I think you know the story: After my dad had his heart by-pass surgery at age 72, and your dad had a hip replacement, they vowed to go climb a mountain together near Black Mountain, N.C., one year after their surgeries. They kept their vow. As they climbed, they got to talking and, in an absent-minded professor kind of way, went down the wrong side of the mountain. They had to climb back up and back down to make their way back to their starting point and where they were staying.<br \><br \>On my dad&#39;s digging project, it was actually all a part of trying to get a study. He had one, but then I was born, the study became my bedroom. He converted the garage to create a study, but then my brother moved into that room. So, my dad started digging under the house. He did outfit it as a a bomb shelter during the Cuban missile crisis, but the goal was to get a study. After the crisis passed, he kept digging, and eventually had a full-sized basement with fireplace and bath under our typical ranch style home. He did all of the work, from the masonry of the chimney to the wiring and plumbing. And of course, the digging with wheelbarrow, pick ax and shovel. <br \><br \>If I am not mistaken, the material you publish above is from a letter written to my kids. When he was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer when my youngest son was only 6 months old, he was afraid he would not live to watch them grow up. He began writing them on their birthdays with stories of his own life and of his parents, my mother, etc. He wanted them to have some of that history which he thought he might not be able to share with them in person. Fortunately, he lived longer than he anticipated, and my children did get to know him. They were 16 and 14 when he died.<br \><br \>

Jane Potts      9:52 AM Tue 3/16/2010

I really enjoy your profiles on the intellectual elite of Chapel Hill. Unfortunately I am too young to have ever known any of these people, but they all sound fascinating.<br \><br \>I was amazed that Mr. Adams use to write papers of 200 to 500 pages on subjects he was interested in while he was in college. I wonder if there are any students like this today at UNC?

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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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