CALDWELL MERIDIAN PILLARS

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CALDWELL MERIDIAN PILLARS

street:
Chapel Hill
NC
Built in
circa 1825
/ Modified in
1946
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 

 

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Last updated

  • Thu, 04/22/2021 - 1:59pm by SteveR

Comments

street:
Chapel Hill
NC
Built in
circa 1825
/ Modified in
1946
Object Type: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 

 

Circa 1950 (image via UNC)
 
2014 (via Research Laboratories of Archaeology, UNC)
 
 
UNC President Joseph Caldwell had these brick pillars erected circa 1825-1826 in the back yard of his house to mark the north-south direction in Chapel Hill.
 
In the early 20th century they had fallen down and were fragmented and covered by vines.
 
In 1946 a restoration of the pillars was undertaken, directed by UNC professor Thomas F. Hickerson with the assistance of Archibald Henderson and R. D. W. Connor. A new foundation for the pillars, which were about a foot and a half square by about six feet high, were laid on the spaces where they originally stood. They were reportedly repaired in such a manner that the appearance of the old brick wall was changed as little as possible.
 
From Some Beginnings in Science, by Collier Cobb. (Popular Science Monthly, Volume 49, October 1896):
"Dr. Caldwell also built in his garden, where they still stand, two pillars of brick, that their eastern and western faces, carefully ground into the same plane, might mark the true meridian. Near these pillars stood a stone pillar, some five feet high, bearing upon its top a sundial for marking the hours of the day."
 
From Kemp P. Battle's History of the University (1901):
“President Caldwell...erected in his garden a sun dial, which stood until the invasion of the Federal cavalry. He also built two pillars, still standing, covered with vines, their eastern and western faces accurately showing the north and south line in his day.”
 

To view a 3D model of the pillars (based on 17 digital photographs taken in 2015) by UNC's RLA, see rla.unc.edu/3d/models/Caldwell_Meridian_Pillars_3D.pdf

 

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