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The Rise and Fall of Chapel Hill's J.P. Goforth

by Charly Mann


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Scott Bell      4:59 PM Sun 7/3/2011

We are in the process of purchasing a Goforth home and would love to know more about who designed the home, what the thinking was behind the cabinet designs (so we can preserve and update properly), and what the artistic or aesthetic theory was behind the contemporary homes he built. Does anyone have any leads or information?

Neal Furr      3:36 PM Wed 6/30/2010

J.P. Goforth in the late '80's was also pouring vast sums of money into building a huge beach house on a parcel of land on the south end of Figure 8 Island, which is just north of Wrightsville Beach - a lot that was determined to be unbuildable by the Homeowners Association and developers. To do so, he had dump trucks haul sand in for months to build up the lot. Due to delays and what I suspect were his growing financial problems, it took well over three years to finish the house. I am not sure he ever really got a chance to enjoy it before his death.

eddie      11:26 AM Thu 5/6/2010

i worked for j.p. from 1980 until the company went under. he was a great boss, that took care of his employees.i enjoyed working there. it was a big company but you felt like you were part of a family. we knew we were building the best homes in n c. I have one of the original security building company signs hanging in my basement.If he was still around i probably would still be working for him.

Charly Mann      9:10 AM Mon 11/23/2009

Hello Sammy,<br \><br \>I talked to quite a few people who did business with JP, bought houses from him, and worked for him. This is what my evidence is based on. <br \><br \>I would love to get more information from you about these allegations, but you left neither an e-mail or last name.<br \><br \>I always welcome additional information on anything published in Chapel Hill Memories.

sammy      8:18 PM Sun 11/22/2009

This author has a poor memory or did not deal with JP Goforth directly. He did anything he could to not pay his bills and consistently broke deals and promises.<br \><br \>There was a reason the DA was investigating him and his business practices. <br \><br \>The author obviously did not talk directly with anyone who did business with JP - there was also a lot of speculation that someone he ripped off took his life.<br \><br \>Funny, when people die (or kill themselves) how history is recreated.

TarGirl      3:00 PM Fri 10/23/2009

We have lived in a Goforth house in Coker Hills for fifteen years and can honestly say it gets better with age.

Sandra Love      1:53 PM Thu 10/22/2009

I had often wondered why I had not heard about J.P. Goforth or his real estate company for the last decade. I had assumed that he sold the company and retired to somewhere like Hilton Head.

Russ Phillips      10:49 AM Wed 10/21/2009

I lived in Chapel Hill from 1978 to 1986. During that time I think almost every new subdivision in town was built by J.P. Goforth. I am shocked and saddened that someone who was so successful, hard-working, and caring could lose everything so quickly and find suicide the only option.

Sally Turner      8:31 PM Tue 10/20/2009

This is such a sad story. I guess Goforth was just unlucky with the combination of his illness and economic downturn coming at the same time.

Howard Vickers      1:25 PM Tue 10/20/2009

Looking at the prices of homes in the early 1980s in the bottom ad of your article makes me kick myself for waiting a decade to buy my first house in Chapel Hill. While my income increased about 50% over that time, housing prices tripled.

Michael Green      10:30 AM Tue 10/20/2009

I have lived in both a condominium and a house built by J.P. Goforth and was highly satisfied with the quality of both. I was also pleased that I was able to sell the townhouse for almost twice as much as I paid for it four years later. I believe the Goforth name contributed to at least 35% of the increase in its value.

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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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