Intimate Bookshop

Although it no longer exists, the Intimate Bookshop lives on in Chapel Hill's reputation for creative writing and independent thinking, both of which were nurtured throughout the twentieth century at the Intimate by Carolina faculty and students. The bookshop began in 1931 when Carolina student Milton "Ab" Abernethy set up shop in his boarding house room and invited people to explore the world of books and literature. Abernethy had also just started a literary magazine called Contempo with his fellow student and friend Anthony Buttitta. That endeavor survived only three years but introduced the work of a number of influential writers and thinkers to the small college town.

The bookshop, however, continued. In 1933 it moved into its first Franklin Street location The store quickly became the center for radical activity and gatherings, in part because of the printing press in the back, where Abernethy printed Contempo and materials for radical campus organizations.

In 1964 Wallace Kuralt and his wife, Brenda, bought the store. During their tenure the Franklin Street store thrived, competing with the campus textbook store and expanding its selections to better serve a general audience. The Kuralts eventually opened nine more stores around the state and in Atlanta. A fire decimated the Chapel Hill store in 1992. The Kuralts rebuilt, adding space and special touches such as squeaky floorboards so that it seemed like the old familiar store. The growth of chain bookstores in the 1990s eventually forced Kuralt to close all of the Intimate stores, including the Franklin Street location in 1998.


Date Established: 1930

Date Range: 1930 – 1998