October 12, 1793: The day the cornerstone of Old East was laid ...
"General William Richardson Davie, Revolutionary patriot, governor of North Carolina, and recipient of the University's first honorary doctor of laws degree, laid the cornerstone ... Sealed into the cornerstone that day by Davie's silver trowel was a commemorative plate reading 'The Right Worshipful William Richardson Davie, Grand Master of the most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Freemasons in the State of North Carolina, one of the trustees of the University of the said state ... assisted by the other commissioners and the Brethren of the Eagle and Independence Lodges, on the 12th day of October in the Year of Masonry 5793 and in the 18th year of the American Independence, laid the cornerstone of this edifice.'
The cornerstone was vandalized sometime between 1865 and 1875 and the commemorative plate was stolen. In 1916 it was discovered in a pile of scrap brass destined for melting at a foundry in Tennessee. The foundry's owner, who was an alumnus of UNC, recognizing the name Davie, had the plate cleaned and returned to its rightful place. The plate may be seen in the North Carolina Collection of the Louis Round Wilson Library."
The First State University: A Walking Guide