The Chapel of the Cross

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(Technically, off campus, but connected to the early and later history of Chapel Hill.)  Throughout the early years of the university and the village of Chapel Hill, church services were held in Person and later Gerrard Hall.  The university was generally Presbyterian (due to the influence of President Caldwell and Professor Mitchell.)  The Chapel of the Cross, was the first Church built in Chapel Hill.  It was promoted and in good part paid for by Professor William Mercer Green.  He supplied bricks and the labor of his slaves to build the original church (which is to the back of the current church).  There was a gallery (balcony) for slaves (which remains to this day).  The original chapel was completed in October 1848.

Pauli Murray, the first black woman ordained Episcopal priest, was the first woman to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in the Chapel of the Cross.  Ms. Murray’s grandmother, Cornelia Smith who had been a slave of Mary Ruffin Smith in Chapel Hill, was baptized in this church.





Additional Resources:

A seven-panel exhibit created by the Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library at UNC-CH in collaboration with the Center for the Study of the American South, the Pauli Murray Project, Carolina’s Women’s Center, UNC School of Information and Library Science and the Stone Center for Black Culture and History.