Heart of the Hill Walking Tours Resume


By Missy Julian-Fox

Ready to fall in love with Chapel Hill – all over again? Do you want to explore the mystery, history, quirks, characters, failures, foibles and delights of town? Take a Heart of the Hill Tour! These tours have been on hiatus due to the pandemic. They resume in April. Registration is required and now available at heartofthehilltours.com.

For decades, the Chapel Hill Historical Society, founded in 1966, and Preservation Chapel Hill, started in 1972, have been essential to collecting, preserving and highlighting what makes Chapel Hill unique and treasured in the hearts of so many.  Missy Julian-Fox, organizer of Heart of the Hill Tours, says, “Our goal is to honor, preserve and celebrate our unique college town, home of the first public University in America. We hope these tours further an understanding of Chapel Hill in a new way and commemorate where we have been, who we are and what our future might hold.”

Tours are designed by the individual guide to share pieces of the collective story and town spirit through history, lore and personal experience. Tours are free, open to the public and typically last 60 – 90 minutes. Advance registration is required for in-person tours.

A list of tours for Spring 2022 follows:

Sunday, April 3, 3 p.m.: Chapel Hill 101 for Newcomers, Families & Kids. Tour guide Susan Worley moved to Chapel Hill when she was six and has been a devoted fan ever since! With both undergrad and graduate degrees from Carolina, Susan has been the Executive Director of Volunteers for Youth since 1988.  She has also been the tour guide for Estes Hills third graders. Susan will lead you all on a tour of downtown & campus to learn more about this town we call Home.

Sunday, April 10, 3 p.m.: VIA ZOOM. “Stories of Our Heritage: The Making of a Mural.”  The Chapel Hill Historical Society and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated will host an informative session on the stories behind the creation of the African American Trailblazers Mural, as well as the individuals featured. Moderated by Danita Mason-Hogans and to include the artist, Kiara Sanders. The mural is located at 111 S. Merritt Mill Road. ON ZOOM – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9091129297. Meeting ID: 909 112 9297. No advanced registration required.

Sunday, April 24, 3 p.m.: Walk This Way! with Stephen and Sandra Rich. In ninety minutes, you will walk up one side of Franklin Street and down the other in Chapel Hill’s first historic district. Learn about the history of the old village and America’s first public university through the stories, impact and influence of the people that lived along the street. Stephen and Sandra Rich are seasoned tour guides for Preservation Chapel Hill and active volunteers around town and campus since their return in 2003. 

Sunday, May 1, 3 p.m.: A Walking Tour of Carrboro with Richard Ellington – on CARRBORO DAY! Carrboro has changed from its blue-collar, working-class background to a hip little town, where the business district is now filled with trendy bistros and purveyors of craft beer and foodie fusion menus. Walk around the block with one of Carrboro’s Own, exploring its roots and history, the people and influential players that have given the town its unique culture and flavor.

Sunday, May 15, 3 p.m.: Campus Architecture. Guided by JJ Bauer, UNC Professor of Art and Art History. Our UNC campus is an illustrated history book of architecture with its various styles, features and flourishes – all working in concert to bring character, substance and beauty to our built environment. Professor Bauer wrote the addendum to the revised edition of John Allcott’s “The Campus at Chapel Hill,” published by the Chapel Hill Historical Society, available for sale at the Historical Society’s website and local bookstores. .    

Sunday, May 22, 3 p.m.: The Noble Grove : A Walking Tour of Trees.  Chapel Hill has always had a love affair with trees! “As I saw Franklin Street in 1912, it was a dusty red avenue cut through a forest of magnificent trees… My first impression of Chapel Hill was trees; my last impression is trees… It is no wonder that Chapel Hillians are ardent tree worshippers and the symbol of the place is Davie Poplar,” said Robert B. House, Chancellor of the University of North Carolina from 1945-1957, in 1964. (Source: Robert B. House. The Light that Shines, Chapel Hill, 1912-1916. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1964.) Explore the history, care-taking and future of our iconic and heritage trees, in town and on campus, with UNC Arborist Tom Bythell.

Saturday, June 4, 3 p.m. & Sunday, June 5, 3 p.m.: Parallel Lives with Missy Julian-Fox. A tour for our times to explore the history of Chapel Hill from both a Black and White perspective. We visit familiar sites and places on campus (Part 1) and in town (Part 2) which may jog a memory, refresh or alter your understanding or expand your knowledge of the myths, the facts and the realities of our town. Some stories may be well-known, others brand-new.  We hope to help build a factual, collective memory bank of town history — vital to racial equity, justice, understanding and policymaking. The past is directly connected to the present and to the wondrous possibilities in our future. Together.

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