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Old Well
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Old Well in July, 2008
The Old Well in July, 2008
Erected 1897
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Website The Old Well

Coordinates: 35°54′43.39612″N 79°3′4.46002″W / 35.9120544778°N 79.0512388944°W / 35.9120544778; -79.0512388944 (Old Well)

The Old Well, modeled on the Temple of Love in the Gardens of Versailles, is the most enduring symbol of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A small, neoclassical rotunda, the Old Well is located in front of the South Building in the historic North Campus. Originally, the well was located a few meters west of its present location, near Old East dormitory. The original location can be identified by a circular area of sunken bricks in the sidewalk. The well has become the most enduring symbol of the university, serving as its unofficial logo.

The Old Well, here in a photo from 1892, served as the campus's sole water source for many years.

The well is as old as the Old East dormitory, the first building on campus and the oldest public university building in the United States. For many years, it served as the sole water supply for the fledgling university. It is located at the very south end of McCorkle Place[1], one of the two main grassy quads on campus, flanked by the oldest buildings on campus. In 1897, the original well was replaced and given its current decorative form by university president Edwin A. Alderman. In 1954, the Old Well was given benches, brick walls, and various flower beds and trees planted around it, a gift from the class of 1954.

Today, instead of hauling up buckets of water, passers-by can drink from a marble water fountain supplying city water that sits in the center of the Old Well. Campus tradition dictates that a drink from the Old Well on the first day of classes will bring good luck (or straight A's). Accordingly, the first day of class each semester sees long lines of students forming to take a swig.

The Old Well is recognized as a National Landmark for Outstanding Landscape Architecture by the American Society of Landscape Architects. The Old Well is also used on the official stamp of all apparel licensed by the university.

Because of its status as a symbol of the university, it is the target of vandals around the time of the UNC-NCSU football game.[2] Initially started by UNC students covering the Free Expression Tunnel at NC state with Carolina blue,[2] NC State students have since taken to vandalizing UNC's campus landmarks and buildings with red graffiti.


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