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Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries all of the walkways on campus were covered in gravel (or, to be more precise, Chapel Hill grit). In the mid-1940s, inspired by the brick walkways at Colonial Williamsburg, the university announced a plan to create Williamsburg-style brick walks. While some alums lamented the loss of the old, dusty paths, the plan was recognized as an improvement over the unpaved walkways, which frequently covered shoes in dust or mud, depending on the weather. The bricks brought a new challenge in the regular maintenance they required. Stray tree roots and construction projects result in frequent repairs to the paths, as do souvenir-seeking students —a 2015 Daily Tar Heel article described the common practice of removing bricks as mementos of the campus. A facilities staff member estimated that in an average week more than 100 bricks had to be replaced.

Date Established: 1940

Date Range: 1940 – Present

UNC Facilities staff members Clifton Jones (left) and Claiborne Baker work on repairing the brick walkways around the Old Well, 2009. News Services Photo Collection, University Archives, Wilson Library.

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