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The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill Historic Society raising $5K for move to library

The money would cover the expense of organizing archives and cleaning newspapers, photos and maps, said Society Board Member Thomas Jepsen. The society has more than 1,000 Chapel Hill newspapers and an extensive collection of documents dating back to 1923, all of which have to be cleaned and preserved before moving.

“Over the years, the Historical Society has become Chapel Hill’s attic,” Jepsen said.

The Chapel Hill Historical Society keeps books and research materials on the history of Chapel Hill. It also houses bound copies of The Chapel Hill News from 1927 through 2008.

Jepsen said the society is about halfway to its goal of $10,000, and plans to utilize fundraising and the launch of a new website to reach the total.

The move was scheduled for Tuesday, but was pushed back due to inclement weather, said Susan Brown, director of the Chapel Hill Public Library. The sale of the society’s old space in July prompted the organization to find a new home. Brown said aside from moving costs and snow flurries, the relocation has not hit many roadblocks.

“It’s been very smooth. The timing was great,” Brown said. “We had the space and they had the need. It made sense.”

She said she doesn’t foresee the society having any problems with the new space other than new and positive challenges, and that there is a good possibility of increased interest in the society’s programs and services.

With the historical society’s limited hours, there could even be a demand for extended hours, Brown said.

Richard Ellington, president of the Historical Society, also said he sees positive change resulting from the relocation. He said that last week, 115 people attended a program held in a library meeting room. The society’s old space at 523 E. Franklin St. could only accommodate 49 people, according to the fire code.

Ellington predicted there will be more walk-in traffic in the new location as well. He said the Chapel Hill Public Library is the most heavily used library in North Carolina, which will allow the society to be more available to the community.

“We’re looking forward to having the new space and the public contact,” he said.

The Historical Society is hosting an open house in March and will continue to accept donations for the next few months, Jepsen said. The organization will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2016, and Ellington said he hopes the society will be around long enough to celebrate the next 50 years.

“The space we’re in now is the space that was designated by the library to one of the staff groups,” Ellington said. “So we know we probably won’t be there forever, but we have been assured that we can have the space for the foreseeable future.”

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