The History of Chapel Hill, NC

Chapel Hill is one of the main municipalities in Orange County, North Carolina. Some refer to it as a city while others refer to it as a town but still, it is an integral part of Orange County’s economy. It is home to the prestigious University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the UNC Health Care. If you are planning on visiting or living in this town-or city as you may call it-it is important to know a little about its history.

Chapel Hill was originally someone’s piece of land. It was a 585 acre land belonging to William Barbee. Barbee was a man from Middlesex County in Virginia who moved to settle in North Carolina after receiving a land grant from the Earl of Granville. This was one of the only two grants given. He worked hard and established himself and his family in North Carolina. After his death, his son Christopher Barbee followed in his father’s footstep in being a great contributor to the community and also supporting the University of North Carolina. This land area where William Barbee first settled with his family is the area now referred to as Chapel Hill-Durham area.

The name Chapel Hill arises from the fact that the town is located at the top of a hill where a chapel was originally located. The chapel was known as the New Hope Chapel constructed in 1752 before it was replaced by one of the most favorite restaurants in the area, The Carolina Inn. After the establishment of the University of North Carolina in 1789, the town of Chapel Hill was developed around it for support and was official incorporated as a town in 1851. Franklin Street is its main street and it was named after Benjamin Franklin.

Chapel Hill has always been a predominantly white town. Racism was a pretty big deal in the 1960s. Despite that, the town elected an African American mayor by the name Howard Lee. He was 35 years old at that time and he served for a total of six years. He broke history by becoming the first black mayor in a white community on the southern side of America. He is credited for bringing the bus system to the town. Chapel Hill Transit enjoyed thirty long years of profit and prosperity. In 2002, it was made free for all riders by the legislature and its ridership went to the roof. The transit has undergone numerous upgrades which include a real time GPS tracker, hybrid buses, bicycle carriers and wheelchair lifts.The Chapel Hill Museum was established in 1993 when the town was celebrating its two-hundredth anniversary.

Chapel Hill is now regarded as a major municipality in North Carolina. Its housing of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has led to numerous economic avenues opening up making the town a hotspot for development and settlement. Despite minor tragedies such as the killing of three students in 2015, the town has managed to shake off the negative and move forward.