Artifact of the month: Millard Fillmore tobacco pipe fragment

Even relative newcomers to UNC remark about the seemingly endless construction on campus. The orientation of the University seems forever attuned to building and changing, moving toward the future.

Fortunately, there are people on campus paying careful attention to UNC’s past — foremost among them the Research Laboratories of Archaeology. The RLA is responsible for our March artifact of the month, a fragment of a red clay tobacco pipe associated with the presidential campaign of Millard Fillmore.

millard fillmore pipe

The pipe was excavated in the 1990s at the site of the Eagle Hotel, where Graham Memorial Hall now stands. The Eagle Hotel, built about 1796, was first a tavern house and later a hotel and boarding house. It was also one of the first commercial structures in Chapel Hill.

In the decades leading up to the Civil War, the Eagle Hotel served as a center of social life at the university. The University reacquired the property in 1907 and turned it into a dormitory, which was used until its destruction in a 1921 fire.

Glimpses of the 19th-century campus on display

The Millard Fillmore pipe, along with many other fascinating artifacts on loan from the Research Laboratories of Archaeology, can be seen in the North Carolina Collection Gallery’s exhibition The Hidden Campus: Archaeological Glimpses of UNC in the Nineteenth Century.

Steve Davis, Associate Director of the Research Laboratories of Archaeology, will deliver a lecture associated with the exhibition on April 14. More details about the exhibition and the lecture can be seen on the Gallery’s current exhibition page.

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