In 1795, the Board of Trustees voted to build a well. Now, 220 years later, the Old Well is the symbol people have chosen to embody "that Carolina feeling."
“When you see the Old Well or a scene of the Old Well, you see something familiar, something to be proud of,” said senior Darrin Benjumea, selection co-chairman of UNC Admissions Ambassadors. “Everything that UNC encompasses can kind of be wrapped up and summarized in the Old Well.”
It’s on the acceptance letter that welcomes high school seniors to the Carolina family. It’s in the background of FDOC pictures, and engagement pictures, and graduation pictures — all the pictures, really. It’s what all the tourists ask to see. It’s what eager freshmen and hopeful, maybe even desperate, upperclassmen drink out of in hopes of achieving the elusive 4.0. It’s one of those things that lets Carolina students know they’re home.
But it wasn’t always held in such high esteem. The simple, wooden structure the Board of Trustees decided to erect back in the 1790s was primarily for utilitarian purposes. As the first water source on campus, students used it to draw water for everything from bathing to laundry, said South Moore, president of the Order of the Bell Tower.
It wasn’t until 1897, when UNC president Edwin Alderman wanted to make the campus more beautiful, that the well began to morph into the icon that it is today, Moore said.