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Monday, August 23, 1982The Daily Tar Heel5B
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The Old Well in 1892
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A guide to
By LISA PULLEN
The University of North Carolina, as
you no doubt have memorized by now,
was the first state university in the United
States, chartered in 1789, and its doors
opened in 1795. So not only are you
attending the University of National
Champions, athletically and academical
ly, you are walking around in the middle
of a lot of history:
In order that you may be informed
about your surroundings and impress your
parents when they come to visit, here is a
brief guide to some well-known campus
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: icons for fund rc;::r3,
landmarks (and in some cases, to their real
significance). Feel free to tear this out
along the dotted line and carry it along
with you as you travel from class to class,
referring to it whenever you find yourself
in unfamiliar surroundings. Amaze your
friends with your knowledge of UNC
Let's begin at Old East, the men's dor
mitory which is also the nation's oldest
state university building. The cornerstone
was laid on Oct. 12, 1793, a date we still
celebrate each year. University Day is al
ways remembered by students, mainly be
cause classes are cancelled for a few
hours. Old East also holds a terrific birth
day party at that time each year that you
should go to if you get the chance.
Anyway, if you think tripling is bad,
cheer up. When the University was young,
56 students were crammed into Old East's
14 rooms. Living conditions were so bad
that some students were forced to build
huts in the surrounding woods to escape
the crowding. The poorly constructed huts
gave rise to the first excuse for an overdue
paper rain. Some famous alumni have
lived in Old East, including Thomas
Next door to Old East is the Old Well
(notice how everything at UNC is "old")..
For years, the Old Well was the only water
supply for the men living in Old East and
Old West. In 1897, UNC President Edwin
A. Alderman had the now-familiar struc
ture built around the well. Appropriately
enough, today the Old Well is a water
The Old Well is probably the most ver
satile landmark on campus. You can have
, , your. r hall and, graduation pictureSj made
3 there take Mom and Dad there when they"
come to visit (it's better than having them
sit in your room admiring your beer can
pyramid) and it is a wonderful place to sit
on a bench on a moonlit night with a date.
A short stroll through the grassy area
from Franklin Street to the Old Well
known as McCorkle Place takes you
through the oldest part of the original
campus. Rev. Samuel McCorkle helped
plan UNC's campus and chose this site
because he thought it distant enough to be
"inaccessible to vice." .
Nearby in McCorkle Place is the Davie
Poplar, the most famous tree on campus.
Legend has it that when legislators were
looking for a site for the University, they
stopped at this spot in the forest for a pic
nic lunch. In the true Carolina tradition,
William Davie partook of more than his
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share of the spirits, whereupon he decided
he had had enough of roaming around in
the wilderness and proclaimed the spot as
the chosen site. He marked it with a poplar
Today you can see the ivy-covered
Davie Poplar (or what is left of it) that the
"Father of the University" first planted.
Its progeny, Davie Poplar Jr. stands near
by, transplanted from Davie Poplar Sr. by
the class of 1918 when they feared the tree
would die from being struck by lightening.
At the base of the Davie Poplar is a stone
bench that is one of the most romantic
spots on campus.
While cuddling on the Davie Poplar
bench, you can admire (from behind,
anyway) the Civil War Monument, better
known to students, as Silent Sam. This
monument was built in 1913 to honor
those alumni who served and died in the
Confederate Army during the Civil War.
In case you are wondering, the story goes
that Sam' shoots his gun whenever a vir
tuous Carolina coed walks by. Now you
know why Sam is silent. It is not advisable
to hide behind Sam, wait for approaching
females, and yell "Bang!".
East of Silent Sam, you will find the
Morehead Building and Planetarium, one
of the finest planetariums in the nation.
The 68-foot wide dome is the screen for
the first Zeiss projector to be installed at a
university. American astronauts have used
Morehead Planetarium for training exer
cises. If you take Astronomy, you will get
to go to labs in the planetarium, too.
John Motley Morehead III, whose
discovery of calcium carbide , led to the
development Of. " the iMiori; Carbide Cor--poration,
was" a"1 great "tehefactor of the
University and a clock afficionado. He
gave UNC two clocks the 35-foot-wide
sundial outside of the Morehead Building
and the Bell Tower, which comes later in
Behind the planetarium, you can
wander through Coker Arboretum, a
garden with hundreds of varieties of flora.
The arboretum was named for William C.
Coker, a botanist and professor here in the
early 1900s. It is a beautiful place to spread
a blanket and sun on a warm spring after
noon. Up Cameron Avenue and across the
street from Old Well is South Building,
whose construction began in 1798.
Originally, the building was a dormitory as
well as a classroom and was home for the
serving the university since 1893
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from a new perspective
eleventh U.S. president, James K. Polk,
while he was in school here. South
Building was roofless for 16 years after the
funds ran out, but that did not stop the
students. Even then, UNC suffered a
housing shortage and students set up camp
in the shell of the building. Finally a state
lottery was held with tickets costing $5
apiece. It raised enough money to add the
roof. During Reconstruction, when the
University was forced to close down,
South Building became the stables for
horses and cows.
Directly across Polk Place from South
Building is Wilson Library, built in 1929
and named for the distinguished librarian,
Louis Round Wilson. "The Grad," as it is ,
known to many students, is an excellent
research facility and houses many special
collections, including the North Carolina
Collection, which is the most outstanding
collection on North Carolina in the world,
and the Thomas Wolfe Collection, which
includes many of the author's personal
mementos. Wilson is a great place to find
nooks and crannies to study in, but finding
your way out is another story.
Across the street from Wilson Library is
the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower. The
chimes of the Bell Tower first rang in 1931
and today warn students when they are
late to class or toll to celebrate a football
victory. If you climb the steps of South
Building and look across the top of Wilson
Library, you will see the tip of the Bell
Tower. It looks like a dunce cap on the top
of the library.
Officially, John Motley Morehead III
and Rufus Lenoir Patterson gaYe)thenBlL0
1 Tower, to e;Uversity 1S30
all of the members of their families who
had been associated with UNC, but the
story goes that Morehead was angry when
the new library was not named for him
and planned the dunce cap trick as an act
If you have completed this entire tour
by now, you should know a lot about the
history of UNC and you are probably ex
hausted. Should that be the case, then
march on up to the Frank Porter Graham
Student Union (1968) and have yourself a
References used in this article were
Marguerite E. Schumann 's The First State
University A Walking Guide and
William S. Powell's The First State
Third Class Post.
1C3 E. rc n Zl, Ccrrbco, U.C. 27510