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Downtown Chapel Hill - Then and Now

by Charly Mann


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Terry B      10:37 AM Mon 8/15/2011

Class of 72. I worked at Foister&#39;s Camera for over two years, for long time manager/owner William Harrison, who passed not long ago. All of the good resturants I ate at are long gone. The Porthole, The Zoom Zoom, the Carolina Grill (not the Carolina Coffee Shop) and the Rat. I was glad to hear that the Rat is going to reopen and it sounds like they will try to keep it close to the same. Few of the stores downtown are what they were. In my college days they also catered to the local folks, many of whom walked downtown to ship. The only big shopping area outside of town was Eastgate Shopping Center, an open air center out where Franklin met 15/501. Now the stores all try to cater exclusively to the students, so they all look pretty much the same.<br \><br \>But I especially loved Suttons. Every morning before going to work at Foister&#39;s, before the store was open to the public, the downtown workers would tap on the window. Someone from the counter in the back would get up and come to the front, unlock the door, and let you in. You locked the door behind you. You could go to the lunch counter and get a hot breakfast before heading off to work. I seriously doubt they do that anymore.

Kevin Clark      2:32 AM Wed 7/13/2011

&quot;Schoolkids was the last record store on Franklin Street.&quot;<br \><br \>CD Alley is a record store, and they are on Franklin Street in the same spot they&#39;ve been in for probably over 10 years now.

Stephanie Horn      7:34 PM Sun 6/6/2010

I agree that downtown Chapel Hill is nothing like it use to be, nevertheless it is one of the only towns in the South which is not a &quot;tourist destination&quot; that still has any kind of downtown.

Tom Wilson      10:15 PM Thu 6/3/2010

I was recently in Chapel Hill and visited downtown for the first time in 30 years. Things have really changed. It seems to be all about UNC basketball and alcohol now. Lots of restaurants where alcohol is a primary part of their business, and lots of stores that sell UNC logo merchandise. Even Julian&#39;s and Sutton&#39;s had photos of UNC basketball players and coaches in their windows.<br \><br \>I do not recall a single store on Franklin Street in the sixties selling UNC t-shirts or related items, and no store - especially a place like Julian&#39;s would have photos of basketball players in their windows. <br \><br \>It seems to me just like most of would agree the music was better in the 60s; Downtown was better then too.

Eliose Shipley      12:02 PM Thu 6/3/2010

I love reading your features on the stores that use to be on Franklin Street.<br \><br \>There are two stores I would really love you to do articles on. One, I think, was called Robbins House of Fashion, and it was a huge upscale women&#39;s clothing store on the south side of Franklin Street. The other is Charles Hopkins Jewelry which was located in Amber Alley, and was for years my favorite store in Chapel Hill.

Mike Brown      9:58 PM Wed 6/2/2010

That song says it all. Chapel Hill is still a great place, but I think we all have to admit that there are not many stores downtown that are worth driving to Franklin Street to shop at.

B Andrews UNC Class of 1975      3:24 PM Wed 6/2/2010

I know Chapel Hill has done a great job with historic preservation of many of its older houses and buildings, but I really wish there could be some effort to preserve at least a few of the stores and restaurants that have been so important to the town&#39;s history. <br \><br \>I still love coming to downtown Chapel Hill, and it is a beautiful place to walk around and have a meal, but except for a few restaurants, it is just not that interesting or unique anymore. <br \>

Linda Kane      9:53 AM Wed 6/2/2010

I grew up in Pittsboro in the 1960s, and my family would go into downtown Chapel Hill to shop almost every Saturday. My favorite stores were Ledbetter&#39;s and Rose&#39;s. We always had lunch at the RAT. I really loved their fresh made apple pie.

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Bite Sized Facts Link for Useful facts, financial success, universal truths, and great health info

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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