Chapel Hill [†] and the University of North Carolina share a joint birthday — October 12, 1793. On that day the first lots were sold for the town that became Chapel Hill and the cornerstone was laid for the first building of the university, subsequently known as Old East. The histories of the town and university have been intertwined for more than two centuries.
The original map of the town, drawn in 1798, shows 24 two-acre lots and six four-acre lots wrapping around the fringes of campus. By 1859, the Town covered 820 acres forming a rectangle bounded roughly by Sunset Drive, Penwick Lane, Tenney Circle and Gimghoul Road. The Town retained these boundaries for almost a century with the first modern annexation taking place in 1950. The Town now encompasses about 21 square miles.
An 1879 charter amendment formally established a mayor position and invested it with police power, but it was not until 1895 that the modern Mayor/Council structure began to evolve. Over the next decades, the village also evolved in many ways. In 1940, it had the highest per capita standard of education in the United States with 2,155 Chapel Hillians over 25 possessing an average of 13.7 years of schooling.
† History of Town Government, 2016, www.townofchapelhill.org, accessed September, 2021.
Nearby Towns: Carrboro Town •