Downtown Chapel Hill

Downtown Blog

Exploring History on Franklin Street with 3rd Graders

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Two classes of Estes Hills Elementary 3rd graders rode a Chapel Hill Transit bus to Franklin Street this morning to get a tour and learn the history of our downtown.  I, along with Susan Worley of the Chapel Hill Historical Society, spent an hour leading the kids to some of the iconic sites on the 100 East Franklin Street block as well as a few that were just for fun!


The tour kicked off with the kids learning about Bruce Strowd, his Ford dealership that once stood on the corner of Columbia and Franklin streets and the sidewalk that still shows his business stamp. Do you know where it is?

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Then we stopped at the Memorial Garden at University Baptist Church where Susan  explained how Chapel Hill and Franklin Street got their names. The kids shared the events they've been a part of on Franklin Street like Halloween and the Walk for Education. Each child got a walking map of downtown and a sheet to write down what they learned.

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At the newly named CVS Plaza, the students learned the history of the Franklin Street Flower ladies;  and that the Carolina Coffeeshop was opened in 1922 and is considered the oldest restaurant in North Carolina that is still open!


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A quick stop at Krispy Kreme for donut holes! Can you guess what the kids said was the best part of the whole tour?


We also ran into UNC Chancellor Carol Folt on Franklin Street!



Inside the Post Office/Courthouse the kids saw Dean Cornwell’s mural “Laying of the Cornerstone of Old East” and learned the founding of the campus.  Outside at Peace & Justice Plaza the students learned about Chapel Hill’s history of protests and sit-ins. The kids promptly staged their first protest with chants of…”No Homework! No Homework!”.  Click on the video below!

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Across the street at McCorkle Place we showed the kids photos of the Speakers Ban protest and the recently created memorial commemorating its history. They particularly liked walking on the walls as kids in Chapel Hill have done for many, many years!



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Last stop was Johnny T-shirt where each kid got a set of Tar Heel temporary tattoos and we all let out  a huge GO HEELS chant!




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Then the kids, teachers, and parents got on the bus and headed back to school! 

But our fun isn't over yet. We are doing the tour again tomorrow for even more 3rd graders!  Thank you to Susan and the entire Estes Hill crew. This was easily one of the most fun things I've had a chance to do here at the Downtown Partnership. 

~Meg, Executive Director