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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Old Well rotunda to undergo accessibility upgrades

A Tar Heel Tradition

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Old Well rotunda to undergo accessibility upgrades

(Courtesy University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

At University of North Carolinas Chapel Hill campus legend has it that if on the first day of each semester you drink out from the Old Well fountain you will maintain a 4.0 GPA. The drinking fountain located beneath a domed rotunda structure in the is a key fixture on campus and recognizable as the symbol used in the university’s branding and logo. Beginning on May 30, the Old Well will undergo renovation that will introduce a permanent sloped ramp that will unite the stone pavers with the uppermost platform of the well.

Since its initial construction in 1795—when it was built as the main source of drinking and bathing water for all of the University staff, faculty, and students—the structure has undergone a number of renovations and replacements. Its original 18th-century wooden structure was replaced by a neoclassical rotunda, based on the Temple of Love at Versailles, in 1897. The well was replaced again in 1954 as it had deteriorated. Smaller repairs have been made since, among this the installment of a new valve to prevent freezing in 2001 and the refurbishment of three columns in 2019.

(Courtesy University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

In this upcoming renovation a sloped ramp will be installed to unite the stone pavers with the uppermost platform of the well. The inclined path replaces a temporary structure installed at the rotunda for accessibility needs in certain circumstances. This temporary ramp was added in January 2022 until the University came up with a more permanent solution, prior to this the center of the rotunda and the well were only accessible via two steps at the base of the structure.

The renovation will require the stone plinth supporting the fountain to be removed, doing so will allow the fountain to be set lower and reinstalled on the upper platform. The nearby trees and adjacent landscaped areas are not part of the project scope.

Construction is expected to be finished by August 11 in anticipation of the start of classes on August 21.

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