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by Kevin McCarthy
In the beginning there wasn't much of anything just
heaps of nothing and loads of closet space.
Then, a long, long time ago, crashing atoms by the
billions appeared admist the cosmic vapors and gases.
Often, when two energized atoms chanced to bump into
one another, they would pause to gossip, always in
hushed tones, about the coming of the earth, Christianity,
and the University of North Carolina, in that order.
About one to two billion years ago, volcanoes began
sprouting up like pimples all over the face of Chapel Hill,
and possibly, although the evidence is still skimpy, an
ancient seaway flowed in the area. These volcanoes,
quite persistent fellows that they were, kept sprouting
and erupting, sprouting and erupting. Some say the
University has been in turmoil ever since.
It came to pass about a half-billion years ago that
streams of ill-mannered liquid rock battled their way up
through the earth's layers and popped up on the
unsuspecting surface. This development is appropriately
termed an "igneous intrusion."
Lucily for Carolina students, this molten rock
crystalized into granite, quite a hard rock, and
thereafter, students could tell their parents and friends
that they were attending a school with a good, solid
By the middle of December, T798, the North Carolina
General Assembly had decided to establish the first
state-supported University in the fledgling nation.
Choosing a place where land was cheap, the population
low (except for the squirrels), but close enough so that
the legislators could oversee their brain child, they sent a
surveyor to a little place called Chapel Hill to begin
laying out the Southern Part of Heaven.
By 1822 the Great Spirit of all good squirrels, who
visited the are some time between the volcano age and
1789, would have scarcely recognized his old haunting
grounds, if he were to reappear. The campus was
bustling little village buildings where students roamed
among Old East, built in 1793; Person Hall, 1796; South
Building, 1798; Gerrard Hall, 1822; and Old West.
It might be added that by 1796 there was already a
housing shortage. Instead of inventing Residence Life,
students rented rooms in Mrs. Elizabeth Puckett's house
on East Franklin Street
During the Civil War and until 1875, Carolina was as
lonely as a cactus in the desert. Only four out of fifteen
memebers of the senior class were present for
commencement in 1865. During Sherman's occupation
of the campus and the surrounding area. Smith Building
(now the Playmakers Theatre) was the scene of horses
feeding on hay rather than students devouring books. By
1871, only two students remained.
When Mrs. Cornelia Spencer, the daughter of
Professor Charles Phillips, ran up the stairs to the attic of
South Building in March of 1875 to ring the bell, the
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Davie's changed, but theArb's the sum.
community knew that the University was back on its
feet. Between 1875 and 1920, the University grew
slowly but steadily. Carr Building, Bynum (originally a"
gymnasium), the Old Memorial Hall, Swain Hall, the
YMCA building and Howell Hal (originally the home of
the School of Pharmacy), all rose at this time. Also
during this era, Emerson Stadium sprouted but was
eventually torn down in 1971 to make room for the new
The Roaring Twenties were no less deafening in
Chapel Hill than in the rest of the country. Chznge was
visible everywhere. Coeds, admitted between 1910 and
1920 to the previously ail-male University, made their
presence known. While they bobbed their hair, Steele
Building, Grimes, Manly, Mangum and Ruffin dorms,
Saunders, Murphy and Manning halls. Spencer dorm, the
Carolina Inn and. Kenan Memorial Stadium appeared,
pushing the woods even farther away from the center of
campus. By 1930, the student body numbered
The years that followed the 1920s have also been,
years of tremendous expansion. The thirties saw the rise
of Woollen Gymansium, the Bell Tower, the Medical
School, Lenoir Hall and the School of Public Health.
The Old Memorial Hall was torn down because it was
found to be unsafe, and a new Memorial Hall erected in
Men became scarce on campus as World War II took
its toll from the young men of the country. Many
changes took place on campus, including the first
woman editor of the DTH.
Perhaps one of the highlights of the forties was getting
the chance to live in the Tin Can which was erected after
World War II to house the vastly increasing number of
students. Imagine living in a dorm that had no walls to
space off individual rooms, where the ceiling seemed
miles above and where showers were a couple hundred
feet away in Woollen Gym.
Life at Carolina became much more pleasant in the
fifties when the University decided to pave the walks
with brick. No longer did students have to swim to class.
The sixties and the early seventies are probably quite
familiar to most students at Carolina. Many buildings
arose during this time, including Kenan Laboratory, the
South Campus dorms, Greenlaw, the new Student Union
and most recently Hamilton. The sixties will probably be
remembered more than anything else for the antiwar
protests, the generation of jeans and bicycles, and new
freedoms in dress, education and sexual attitudes.
The future? Well, the squirrels are still around with
the dogs on campus providing a system of checks and
balances. The Univers" y has grown from two students in
1871 to 18,949 in the fall of '72. Prediction: growth.