Tuesday, June 13, 2006

This view will soon be history.


If you recognize this scene, probably you've spent enough time in your car here (no left arrow; light cycle delay) to meditate upon the way the ivy overflows the stone walls, the way the walls themselves are bending toward you under the slow pressure of the ivy and the earth and the roots of the tall old trees, which too are bending lovingly toward each other and, imperceptibly more and more with the passage of time, toward your car.

What UNC officials have come to see here is an occasion for an "emergency repair." By way of courtesy review with the Historic District Commission last week, historic preservation manager Paul Kapp and landscape architect Jill Coleman outlined the scope of the upcoming project.

On June 19, it will begin: the road will be closed, and for a number of weeks. (Find an alternate route.) The stone walls will be dismantled. Four trees, identified as diseased, will go. The banks will be aligned vertically. "Soil nails" will be used to train the earth to stay put. Concrete ("shotcrete") will be applied. The old stones will be put back in place, but hereafter the walls will be stone veneer, no longer shouldering the old responsibility.

The tall dying trees will be replaced, and as more tall old trees die, they too will be replaced: with smaller trees, most likely flowering fruit. It is contemplated that farther back from the bank, on both sides, additional tall-growing trees will be planted--so that someday travelers here will observe a "layered" effect. It will, we are told, be quite lovely in the spring.

It makes so much sense, but let us mark a loss. This familiar corridor will never be quite the beautiful happenstance, the touchstone of layers of university history, that it is now. Go take a look. You have less than a week.

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