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Self-Guided Tour of Carolina

A view of Polk Place.

Welcome to Carolina

We invite you to explore the heart of campus and feel the history, vibrancy and charm of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Along with its beauty, Carolina has a reputation as a place where science, research and the arts of all kinds thrive. Our history, a living, breathing presence on campus, connects our contemporary community to a legacy as old as the United States.

As the nation’s first public university, Carolina opened its doors to students in 1795 and was the only university to award degrees in the 18th century. The state of North Carolina chartered the University in 1789.

Today, UNC-Chapel Hill is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public education.

We want to share the many stories of our extraordinary university and introduce you to the innovation, impact and accessibility that define Carolina’s identity today. Whether you are well acquainted with Carolina or setting foot on campus for the first time, we invite you to stop by the UNC Visitors Center for guidance, recommendations and insights — let us tailor your visit and show you all that Carolina has to offer.

We hope that you enjoy visiting the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This self-guided tour will help you navigate our historic landmarks and see some of the places where our students, faculty and staff conduct game-changing research, innovate for the public good, give back to our community and celebrate Tar Heel traditions.

Download a printable self-guided tour with a map

UNC Visitors Center

Three adults look at a screen of notable Tar Heels.As Carolina’s front door, the UNC Visitors Center is the gateway to discovering the many stories and hallmarks of the nation’s first public university. For more than 30 years, the Visitors Center has welcomed guests from all over the state, country and globe.

In 2020, the Visitors Center opened its new location on Franklin Street to greet guests in a dynamic and interactive environment that engages and educates them, further connecting the University with North Carolina and beyond.

Ackland Art Museum

Ackland Art museumFeaturing a year-round calendar of special exhibitions and engaging public programs, the Ackland Art Museum encourages visitors to engage with
the rich legacy of the artistic past as well as with living artists from around the world. A universal collection of artworks from antiquity to present makes the Ackland uniquely able to advance the University’s teaching and research missions.

 

Visit ackland.org for hours of operation.

Hanes Art Center

Completed in 1985, the Hanes Art Center is the central hub for Carolina’s art and art history programs. Students learn and create in the 45,000 square- foot facility’s numerous classrooms and photography, printmaking, painting and electronic media studios. The Center also features the Joseph Curtis Sloane Art Library and the Visual Resources Library. Visitors may view exhibited artworks in the John and June Allcott Gallery.

For hours of operation, visit art.unc.edu.

Franklin Street

Franklin Street.

Named for Benjamin Franklin, Chapel Hill’s tree-lined main street is a place to eat, play, shop and celebrate. The University and the town have grown together since the town’s creation by public auction in 1793 on the very same day that the cornerstone was laid for the University’s first building, Old East. Franklin Street has been called “the heartbeat of Chapel Hill” and buzzes with energy year round — especially on football Saturdays and after major men’s basketball victories.

Monument to Free Speech

The marker recognizes student leaders who spoke out against the 1963 Speaker Ban Law. Rushed through the North Carolina General Assembly on the last day of the legislative session without debate or deliberation, it forbade members of the Communist Party and those who had invoked the Fifth Amendment in investigation of Communists from speaking on the campuses of universities receiving state funds. It is placed near the spot where, in March 1966, two controversial speakers addressed students across the wall while standing off University property.

Pettigrew Hall

The Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, located in Pettigrew Hall, embodies the University’s commitment to high-quality education at an affordable price. By meeting all of the documented need of undergraduates who apply for financial aid on time, Carolina ensures that qualified students have the opportunity to enroll, regardless of ability to pay. The University’s hallmark program, the Carolina Covenant, offers low-income students the opportunity to graduate debt-free.

Graham Memorial

Built in 1931 in memory of the University’s eighth president, Edward Kidder Graham, this was the first Student Union on campus. Now it houses the Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence, which includes Honors Carolina, the Office of Distinguished Scholarships and the Office of Undergraduate Research. Honors courses are accessible to any student with a 3.0 GPA or above. About 60 percent of undergraduates complete research in the humanities, sciences and interdisciplinary fields.

Unsung Founders Memorial

Unsung Founders memorialIn 2005, the University dedicated this memorial to honor the countless enslaved and free African Americans who served the campus. Inspired
by the graves of unknown African Americans in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery, artist Do Ho Suh created 300 individual figurines holding a stone table surrounded by five stone seats. The memorial is a gift from the Class of 2002.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

Morehead Planetarium in the spring.As the largest fulldome planetarium in the southeastern United States, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center welcomes nearly 160,000 visitors each year and provides outreach programs across the state. It opened in 1949 as a gift of John Motley Morehead III, Class of 1891, who wanted to provide the people of his home state with the best possible resources for science education.

The planetarium influenced our national legacy of space exploration by acting as a training site for 62 U.S. astronauts from Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab missions, including 11 of the 12 men who walked on the moon. The building also houses the Morehead-Cain Foundation, which Morehead established in 1945 as the first merit-based scholarship in the nation. Each year, UNC-Chapel Hill welcomes approximately 70 new Morehead-Cain Scholars from across North Carolina, the United States and the world.

For Morehead Planetarium hours, visit moreheadplanetarium.org.

Coker Arboretum

A collage of four Coker Arboretum photos, which includes an orange flower, a brass plaque on a tree, a knot in a tree and twisted vines.Created in 1903 by Carolina’s first botany professor, William C. Coker, this five-acre garden contains more than 500 species of trees, plants and shrubs. A favorite feature is the 300-foot wisteria arbor. Now part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, the arboretum is a peaceful place to study, meditate, picnic or relax between classes

Caldwell Monument

This marble obelisk marks the gravesites of Joseph Caldwell, the University’s first president, and his wife and stepson. This monument, dedicated at the University’s 1858 Commencement, replaced the grave’s original sandstone obelisk.

Members of the Class of 1891 rededicated the first obelisk, now located in the African American section of the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery, to four enslaved men who served the University and its early presidents: Wilson Caldwell, November Caldwell, David Barham and Henry Smith.

Davie Poplar Tree

The bench in front of the Davie Poplar TreeA treasured Carolina icon, the Davie Poplar is named after William Richardson Davie, the man who introduced the bill to charter the University in 1789. This 300-plus-year-old tulip poplar tree has stood since before the University’s founding. In 1993, Davie Poplar seeds were planted in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties as part of the University’s Bicentennial Observance.

Old East

Old East signNational Historic Landmark

Old East is the first public university building in the nation. Its cornerstone was laid on Oct. 12, 1793, which is marked as the University’s birthday. It was originally a multipurpose building with dormitory rooms and classrooms. The University’s first student to enroll, Hinton James, moved into Old East in January 1795. Today, it is a residence hall.

Old Well

Old WellThe Old Well is the University’s iconic visual symbol. The scene of wedding proposals, graduation photos and fun Carolina traditions, it sits on the site of the primary water source for the University’s first 100 years. Students have a Carolina tradition to drink from the Old Well on the first day of classes to bring good luck — and good grades.

South Building

South Building in the morning light.Although construction began in 1789, South Building was not completed until 1814. It served as a dormitory, classrooms and meeting space for Carolina’s oldest debating societies. The southern portico, added in 1927, faces Polk Place, which is named in honor of the building’s most famous resident, U.S. President James K. Polk, Class of 1818. The offices of our chancellor and other administrators are located here.

Memorial Hall/Carolina Performing Arts

At Carolina, the arts are for everyone. The University supports the arts’ fundamental role in Carolina’s culture and campus life through the Arts Everywhere initiative. As one of the University’s premier artistic venues, Memorial Hall is home to Carolina Performing Arts, which offers world-class performances of music, dance and theater, innovative forms of cultural and artistic expression, and lectures by some of today’s most influential speakers.

The original gothic structure was erected in 1885 and was replaced in 1931 with this Colonial Revival building. Outside is the Carolina Alumni Memorial in Memory of Those Lost in Military Service and, on a stone stand, the bronze Book of Names, listing all known alumni who perished in military service from the Civil War to present day.

For information about performances, visit carolinaperformingarts.org.

Campus Y

Carolina fosters a culture of engagement and a commitment to service. Established in 1860, the Campus Y now engages about 2,000 student volunteers in 30 student social justice organizations. The French- Gothic building, constructed in 1907, houses the CUBE, the University’s social innovation incubator. The CUBE program provides selected students, faculty and staff with resources to build successful enterprises while tackling complex social programs; special benefits include a year of seed funding, professional mentoring and capacity-building workshops.

Carolina Hall

Carolina Hall, formally known as Saunders Hall, was renamed in 2015 by the Board of Trustees. In 2014, students called for William L. Saunders’ name to be removed from the building because of his leadership in the Ku Klux Klan. The Trustees researched the issue, solicited public feedback and ultimately voted in favor of renaming the building. Step inside to view the Carolina Hall exhibit, which tells the full story of the building’s name.

BeAM: Be a Maker/Murray Hall

Two students use a 3D printer.Innovation is fundamental to Carolina’s culture of creativity and collaboration. The BeAM (Be a Maker) network encompasses four campus makerspaces where the Carolina community creates physical objects for education, research, entrepreneurship and beyond.

Open to students, faculty and staff, BeAM@ CAROLINA spaces are equipped with emerging technologies such as 3-D printers and laser cutting. With campus resources like BeAM, every Tar Heel can Be a Maker.

Wilson Library

Wilson Library

Completed in 1929, this large limestone Beaux-Arts style building is home to Carolina’s special collections, which comprise unique and rare books, organizational records, personal and family papers, moving images, sound recordings and artifacts.

Wilson Library houses the world’s largest collection of historical materials relating to the American South. Along with being a distinguished center for research and study, Wilson Library offers a number
of permanent and changing exhibits showcasing materials from its collections.

For library hours, visit library.unc.edu.

The Pit

This sunken courtyard known as The Pit is an epicenter of student life on campus and serves as a stage for speeches, performances and student organizations. Legend has it that you will see all of Carolina’s 30,000 students pass through The Pit within 24 hours. “Pit sit” for a while to watch and enjoy the activity.

Davis Library

Davis Library, named for Walter R. Davis, is the largest educational facility in the state and most comprehensive library on campus. On the second floor are the Research Hub and “Liquid Labs” where visitors can call up any Google Earth destination in a surround-screen environment.

For library hours, visit library.unc.edu.

Frank Porter Graham Student Union

The Frank Porter Graham Student Union, also called the Carolina Union, is home to more than 950 student organizations and provides programs, services and facilities for all members of the Carolina campus community. The Union’s meeting rooms and lounge areas are popular spots for students to study, meet with friends, eat and relax.

"The Gift"

“The Gift,” created by North Carolina artist Senora Lynch of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe, honors North Carolina’s American Indian population. The 240-foot long and 40-foot wide mosaic features traditional southeastern American Indian life symbols. North Carolina has the largest population of American Indians east of the Mississippi River.

The UNC American Indian Center bridges the richness of American Indian cultures with the strengths of Carolina’s research, education and service.

Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower

The Bell Tower.

Rising 172 feet, the Bell Tower was built in 1931, a gift of John Motley Morehead III and Rufus Lenoir Patterson. Its 14-bell carillon rings both manually and electronically, chimes every 15 minutes and also serenades the campus after football games and special events.

A Carolina tradition is the Senior Bell Tower Climb, an event for the senior class to climb the 128 steps to the top. The Bell Tower is lit Carolina blue at the beginning of the fall semester and after football game wins and national championship victories.

Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Initially known as the Black Cultural Center, the Stone Center was renamed for beloved faculty member Dr. Sonja Haynes Stone. The Stone Center raises awareness of and appreciation for African American culture by the campus community and is one of the preeminent sites in the nation for the critical examination of African and African American diaspora culture.

For hours of operation, visit stonecenter.unc.edu.

The Carolina Inn

National Register of Historic Places

Known as the University’s living room, the Carolina Inn sits on the original New Hope Chapel site, for which the town is named. UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus and philanthropist John Sprunt Hill, who graduated in 1889, opened the Carolina Inn in 1924 and gave it to the University in 1935, stipulating that profits support the library. Today, the Inn continues to support Wilson Library’s North Carolina Collection.

FedEx Global Education Center

Designed by award-winning Boston architect Andrea Leers, visitors to
the building find an environment that supports higher education at a global level. The James and Florence Peacock Atrium, the building’s main lobby, showcases contemporary international art. On the rooftop of the fourth floor, two drought-tolerant sedum gardens minimize storm water runoff and help keep the building cool during warm North Carolina summers.

Kenan Football Center/Kenan Stadium

Kenan Stadium at sunset.

Carolina football has been a source of Tar Heel pride since the University’s first season in 1888.

The largest ram sculpture in the world and a statue of Carolina football’s legendary Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice are located outside the Kenan Football Center, which features a multimedia history of Carolina football with photographs, awards, trophies and artifacts.

Considered one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country, Kenan Stadium seats 50,500 fans.

For details about visiting Kenan Football Center, see go.unc.edu/kenanstadium.

Carmichael Arena

A upward view of Carmichael Arena.With a capacity of 6,822, Carmichael Arena is home to Carolina’s volleyball, gymnastics, wrestling and women’s basketball teams. The arena includes
a Women’s Basketball Museum, as well as tributes to 100+ All-Americans in our 28 varsity sports. This was also the home court for Michael Jordan and the 1982 Carolina men’s national championship basketball team.

To visit, check go.unc.edu/carmichaelarena.

Jackson Hall/Undergraduate Admissions

The admissions staff in Jackson Hall provides information and campus tours to prospective undergraduate students and their families. Self-guided tour maps are available online. The building was originally known as Navy Hall, built in 1942 to support the Navy’s Pre-Flight School, ROTC and V-12 programs.

The building’s name honors Dr. Blyden Jackson, UNC-Chapel Hill’s first African American tenured professor, and his wife, Roberta Jackson, Division of Academic Affairs’ first tenured African American female faculty member.

Center for Dramatic Art/Forest Theatre

Forest Theatre in AutumnThe Center for Dramatic Art, home to renowned PlayMakers Repertory Company, was established in 1925, making it the second oldest theatre department in the country.

Located across the street, Forest Theatre is surrounded by Battle Park’s 93 acres of mostly primordial forest. This theatre is dedicated to professor Frederick Koch, founder of Carolina PlayMakers and the father of folk drama in America.

"SERVICE" Mural/School of Government

Located on the first floor of the Knapp- Sanders Building, home to the School of Government, “SERVICE” interprets the 1960 Woolworth counter sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina. Artist Colin Quashie’s 5’ x 50’ oil-on-canvas painting depicts a gathering of notable African American leaders, including the Greensboro Four.

“SERVICE” marks the first in a series of murals dedicated to commemorating the contributions of African Americans and American Indians to the state.

For hours to visit the mural, check go.unc.edu/servicemural.

Carolina Basketball Museum

Relive some of Carolina’s best men’s basketball moments through videos, photos and statistical and informational panels that highlight the history of the Carolina Basketball program.

The museum experience begins with a presentation and includes video tributes to Dean Smith; Roy Williams ‘72, ‘73 (M.A.); Tyler Hansborough ‘09; Michael Jordan ‘86; and all aspects of UNC basketball. It also includes interactive presentations highlighting Carolina’s 20 Final Four appearances and 18 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championships, as well as many of the greatest games and most exciting finishes in Tar Heel history.

Visit go.unc.edu/deansmithcenter and go.unc.edu/carolinabasketballmuseum for hours the Smith Center and Basketball Museum are open to guests.

After you visit the Carolina Basketball Museum, be sure to walk by the wall of windows lining the first level of the Media and Communications Center, where you may view Carolina’s production studios and video screens. Much of the video, radio, podcast and photographic content produced in the studio airs on the linear TV channel ACC Network or is streamed on ACC Network Extra.

North Carolina Botanical Gardens

The largest botanical garden in the Southeast, the North Carolina Botanical Garden (off N.C. Hwy. 15-501) encompasses 700 acres of preserved land, featuring formal display gardens as well as natural areas, nature trails, carnivorous plant collections, herb gardens and more. It is also home to the Paul Green Cabin, where the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright wrote many of his works.

To visit the Botanical Garden, check ncbg.unc.edu.