Finally, Old Well: The Book
When Sarah Brandes Madry ' 71 was a Carolina student, she did- n't think much of the Old Well.
But more than 20 years later, after becom-
ing interested in landscape architecture,
Madry found a new respect for the most
prominent symbol of the University.And she
found only briefmentions ofit in books.
In 1997, Madry returned to Chapel Hill
after living near Princeton University, and
she wondered if the well was connected to
other round structures and temples. Her
book, Well H0rth a Shindy: The Architectural
and Philosophical History of the Old
Well at the University of North Car-
olina at Chapel Hill is a product of
four and a half years of research and
writing. It is not only a long drink
from the well but a detailed history
of the meaning and function of
round buildings throughout the
"The round shape has always been a spe-
cial shape, a shape that's been somewhat elu-
sive in its message;' timeless and symbolic of
new beginn.ing;, Madry said.
Although the well had been sunk just to
the west of Old East in 1795, a grand facade
was the brainchild of Edwin Anderson
Alderman, who graduated from UNC in
1882 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy
and later became UNC's sixth president. In a
letter to his niece, Alderman said he wanted
"to add a little beauty" to the campus.
According to Madry, he also had philosophi-
Madry says in the book that
Alderman wanted to construct
the well to show that the poverty
of the Reconstruction period
was over and to revive the spirit
of the campus and the state.
"His desire to have a garden
house in North Carolina's aca-
demic garden ... was not simply
a quest for a prettier campus, it
was 'practical' - it was a means
to an end - to a visual embodi-
ment of a democratic, fair
process in governmental matters
and the unimpeded opportunity,
within the university's walls, to
research what created such fair
processes," Madry writes.
The Old Well was built in
1897, based on photographs of
the Temple of Love in the Gar-
den at Versailles. Eugene Lewis
Harris (class of 1881) designed it
while he was University registrar
and a professional portrait artist.
But by the late 1940s, the
structure was decaying. It was
torn down in 1954 and replaced
by the present version, which has
a copper roof and consists of
steel framework, granite steps
and marble column bases. The
water fountain, made of gabbro
stone, from Sweden, was added.
The columns, however, are
the originals from 1897.
- Elizabeth Michalka
Well Worth n Shindy
Edwin Alderman's effort to add a little beauty to the cam-
!SArah .......... ''Il0l..,·
pus grew on Sarah Madry ' 71, as It has on generations.
pizza oven and
sauteed and fried
Capturing the subtlety
Stop by the next time
you're in Raleigh.
C AR 0 Ll N A A LU M N IREVJE W