Answers: Test Your UNC History Knowledge

1. Eight of the buildings currently in use on the UNC campus were originally built before the Civil War. Can you name at least five? 

Old East, Person Hall, South Building, Old West, Gerrard Hall, Smith Hall (Old Playmakers), New West, New East. 

2. Only two U.S. Presidents have studied at Carolina. James K. Polk, who graduated in 1818, is the only UNC graduate to go on to become President. Who is the other future President who took classes at UNC? Hint: he spent one summer taking classes at the UNC School of Law in 1938. 

Future U.S. President Gerald Ford studied law at UNC during the summer of 1938

3. In the 1920s, students often complained about the noise coming from the basement of Caldwell Building. What was the source of the noise? 

  • Practices by the UNC Mandolin and Guitar Club 
  • Mysterious yells and chants from Order of the Gimghoul ceremonies 
  • Barking and howling from lab animals used in Medical School courses 
  • Loud hammering and clanking from the UNC blacksmith shop

When Caldwell Hall housed the UNC School of Medicine, the basement contained animal pens that held dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, sheep, and other animals used by medical students for experiments and to practice procedures. 

4. In the early 1990s when basketball coach Dean Smith decided that the Tar Heels needed a new look, what local fashion designer did he turn to for help redesigning the team’s uniforms? 

Alexander Julian. Julian made several changes to the uniforms, including the addition of the now standard argyle accents. 

5. Which well-known author is not a UNC alumnus? 

  • Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities 
  • Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House series 
  • Sarah Dessen, author of Saint Anything and other popular young adult novels. 
  • Walker Percy, author of The Moviegoer and Lost in the Cosmos 

Tom Wolfe is not an alumnus of UNC. Thomas Wolfe, however, author of Look Homeward, Angel and You Can’t Go Home Again, graduated from UNC in 1920.

6. The design of the Old Well was modeled after a similar structure in what country? 

  • England 
  • France 
  • Italy 
  • Greece 

The Old Well is modeled after a small temple observed by UNC President Edwin Alderman in the gardens at the Palace of Versailles, in France. 

7. In 1965, UNC students were frustrated with the poor performance of the basketball team and blamed the young coach, Dean Smith. How did they express their dissatisfaction? 

  • They started a petition calling for Smith’s firing. 
  • They toilet-papered Smith’s house. 
  • They wrote letters to former coach Frank McGuire, urging him to come back to UNC. 
  • They hanged Smith in effigy. 

Students hanged Smith in effigy. 

8. Captain Johnston Blakeley is believed to be the first UNC alumnus to be killed in military service. In what war was he killed? 

The War of 1812. 

9. In 2006, UNC was the first predominantly-white university to name a building in honor of someone formerly enslaved on campus. Name the building and the man for whom it was named. 

Horton Hall, named for poet George Moses Horton, the first black man to publish a book in the South. 

10. Every October 12th, the University celebrates “University Day” in honor of an important event that happened on that day in 1793. What was it? 

The laying of the cornerstone of Old East, the first university building.

11. Who was the first student to attend UNC?  

Hinton James, who is said to have walked all the way from Wilmington to enroll. A dorm (the furthest from the central part of campus) is now named in his honor and the University celebrates “Hinton James Day” on the anniversary of his arrival – February 12. 

12. Which of UNC’s varsity athletic programs has the most NCAA championship wins? 

Women’s soccer. 

13. UNC has 5 buildings named after members of the same family. What is the family? 

Kenan: Kenan Stadium, Kenan Labs, Kenan Residence Hall, Kenan Music Building, Kenan Center. 

14. What UNC sports team was, for a time, known as the “White Phantoms?” 

Unofficial name for the UNC basketball team, usually used in newspapers in the 1920s-1940s. It was coined by sports writer Morgan Blake. 

15. In the 1970s, the “High Noon Society” regularly met on Fridays at the Bell Tower. For what purpose? 

To smoke marijuana. 

16. How many students were in UNC’s first graduating class? Hint: Not many. 


17. In 1951, the first four African American students were admitted to UNC. They were graduate students in what program? 

UNC School of Law. 

18. In 1935, UNC president Frank Porter Graham proposed a plan to reform intercollegiate athletics, which was met with immediate backlash. Which of the following was not part of the Graham Plan? 

  • Eliminated athletic scholarships 
  • Made first-year students ineligible to participate in varsity athletics 
  • Prohibited students from missing class for games 
  • Banned recruiting 

The Graham Plan did not prohibit students from missing class for games.

19. In 1852, UNC completed a building that would serve a dual purpose as a library and ballroom. It was later used as a performance venue. What is the name of that building now? 

Old Playmakers Theater (then called Smith Hall). 

20. According to a Daily Tar Heel report, “Carmichael auditorium oozed steamy sexuality” during this late musical artist’s 1983 performance. (We’ll accept the answer in word or symbol form.)