Historic Walking Tour Of Franklin Street & Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, N.C. – Yes, Chapel Hill is a college town filled with bars and funky shops. But, it used to be a sleepy little town and is full of history and historic homes. So get out of bed and go for a walk through local history with The Preservation Society of Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill is much more than a bedroom community.

From The Preservation Society of Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill gets its name from the New Hope Chapel on the Hill. The Anglican “chapel of ease” stood at the intersection of two dirt roads in the vicinity of the present day Carolina Inn.

With the opening of UNC in 1795, Chapel Hill began its growth into a town. In 1818, there were twenty-two buildings including eighteen residences, inns, and stores. On campus stood Old East (1793), South Building, Person Chapel, and the home of Dr. Joseph Caldwell, the first president of the University.

Where, On Franklin Street

The Walking Tour will take you through the Historic District, The Cameron Avenue area, by the Ackland Museum, the Forest Theatre and Battle Park. Here are some of the historic places you’ll visit on the tour:

  • Chapel of the Cross – Built in 1842 and designed by architect Thomas U. Walter in a Gothic Revival style.
  • Phillips Law Office -Samuel Phillips built Chapel Hill’s first law office in 1843. “Mr. Sam” used the stucco cottage as his office and later shared it with Judge William Horn Battle.
  • Widow Puckett House – Jane Puckett, the widow of the town’s postmaster, built this house between 1817 and 1820. Originally the lot cost $40 but sold for $1300 in 1820.
  • UNC President’s House – While the original house burned in 1886, the present home was constructed in 1907.
  • Spencer House – Built by James Lee Love, professor of mathematics, who leased the lot from the University for fifty years at $15 per year.
  • Presbyterian Manse – Reverend William Mercer Green, who organized the Chapel of the Cross, bought this land in 1847 for $37.55.
  • Collier Cobb House – Cobb, who headed the university’s Geology Department, constructed the original part of the home in 1893.
  • Hooper / Kyser House – Built around 1814 by Professor William Hooper, a grandson of a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Chapel Hill Museum – In 1968, architect Donald Stewart designed a building to house the Chapel Hill Library.
  • Kennette House – Chemistry professor Charles Baskerville built this unique Queen Anne style home on university land in 1897.
  • Horace Williams House – Originally a farmhouse built c 1840s, chemistry professor, Dr. Benjamin S. Hedrick, added an octagon-shaped room in 1855.

Old Chapel Hill Cemetery Tour

Walking tours of the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery are wonderful for those wanting to know about Chapel Hill residents of the past. It’s also an interesting and a bit creepy to do this on an evening in October.

The site was part of a land grant given by the State of North Carolina in 1796 to develop the University, and the cemetery originally served as a final resting place for University faculty and students. These days the cemetery is owned and maintained by the Town of Chapel Hill and part of an extensive restoration project.

Who, What Where, & When

The walking tour of Franklin Street, “A Walk Down Franklin Street”, begin at the Horace Williams House.

The Old Chapel Hill Cemetery Tour starts at the gazebo in the cemetery located at the intersection of Country Club Road and South Road.

To arrange all tours, call (919) 942-7818.

Guided tours are $5 per person.


Pictures courtesy of State Library of NC and Jeffrey L. Cohen via Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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