Old East, Person, South, Old West, Gerrard
- there is a distinct pattern, described by
the art professor and chronicler ofUNC's
early architecture John V Allcott. "Through
the late 18th and early 19th century the
buildings stood as red brick;' he wrote in
The Daily Tar Heel in 1965. "The change
from red to brown came in the 1840s as part
of an early Victorian fashion which swept
through American architecture of the times.
"The new fashion was anti-colonial,
tired of those overly-cheerful colonial
buildings with their sparkling red brick and
white mortar walls."The campus up to that
point had been rather crudely landscaped,
if at all, and the trustees in 1838 ordered
the trees thinned and new ones planted,
and they let go a substantial $3,000 for
building and ground repairs. The buildings
were given mineral washes in light brown
tones; turn-of-the-century photos show
how the washes made the brown-painted
cornices and sashes more prominent.
"That chocolate brown is a prevalent
historic color on this campus," Kapp said.
"It is the color of a Hershey bar."
The washes now on South Building and
Gerrard, as well as the later Memorial Hall,
are today essentially as they were back then,
when they were seen not only as fashionable
but as a protective coat for the soft brick of
which they were built. Only Person has been
returned to its bare brick. The aforemen-
tioned painting of Old East and Old West at
the Bicentennial is seen as a big mistake.
Kapp wants the paint removed and a wash
restored, and he expects that will happen.
Playmakers, New East and New West
and the Campus Y have been more suscep-
tible to whatever's in the paint shop
because they are stucco, which more easily
The stucco on Playmakers has worn
four different colors since it became a the-
ater in 1925; its window frames, eight col-
ors since 1847; the capitals atop its four
columns, 11, some of which disappeared
and later reprised.
'Better than we found it'
On a campus that so values its history, it
may come as a surprise that several of the
oldest structures have a history of being
underloved. Some members of the buildings
and grounds fraternity think that more cel-
ebrated preservation projects - sometimes
called the Williamsburg, or "Disneyland,"
mentality - may blind people to the reality
that a state university doesn't always have
the money or the sense ofpriority to keep
C the neighborhood authentic and pristine.
:: The "big bucket ofleftovers" practice, and in some cases plain old neglect, was
On the eve of the largest new building
campaign in campus history, Moeser said
his focus on the physical appearance of the
old was immediate."If all this building was
going to take place, it was a tremendous
responsibility of stewardship - that we
leave it better than we found it."
He found a kindred spirit in Elfland,
who had spent 14 years lovingly restoring
her own pre-Civil War house in Pittsboro. It
was her call to bring in the conservator, and
she brought in an expert to teach can1.pus
masons how to restore mortar between the
old bricks. Then, to a can1.pus touched by
prestigious designers such as Alexander Jack-
son Davis, Arthur Nash, William Nichols
and the firm of McKinL, Mead and White,
Moeser brought a nill-time historic preser-
vation architect. Paul Kapp understands
pride of place, having spent four years work-
ing at the University of Virginia, where the
collective obsession with Thomas Jefferson's
vision of the physical can1.pus is legendary.
A walk around the campus some years
ago with Moeser and Kapp left a clear
impression that they think alike on preser-
vation. They both grasp big pictures and
notice small details, and the contrasts
between recent restorations and earlier
ones is unnustakable. Although he still
goes through the committees and the
trustees, Kapp seems to have everyone's ear
on exterior color.
The arched windows on Howell Hall, top, wear
both brown and green, their 1906 originals. At
bottom, Hill Hall (1907) is trimmed in a gener·
ic light color now, but old photos indicate that
research will uncover dark brown windows.
Back to original, mostly
There are three primary influences on
Kapp's choices. Two are "it's the original"
and the slightly more subjective "it's a his-
torically significant period." The iliird
could be known as"because we can."
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