Historic preservation group lauds Chapel Hill

Posted February 15, 2011 12:34 p.m. EST
Updated February 15, 2011 1:39 p.m. EST

— The National Trust for Historic Preservation on Tuesday named Chapel Hill among a dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2011.

The group said it selected Chapel Hill from among 50 applicants for its stately charm, dynamic cultural offerings and its citizens’ dedication to protecting and sharing its unique heritage.

“From its well-preserved historic districts to its quiet winding streets and bustling downtown, Chapel Hill lives up to its nickname as the ‘Southern Part of Heaven,’” Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a statement. “While the diversity of retail and nightlife options in Chapel Hill is well known, travelers will also appreciate the two centuries of architectural grandeur on display throughout the town. Chapel Hill is the perfect place for travelers looking for a truly distinctive destination.”

John Hildreth, director of the National Trust's southern regional office, called Chapel Hill "a distinctive place ... a very special place."

The town has three local historic districts and four National Register Historic Districts, and the trust lists Crook's Corner restaurant, the North Carolina Botanical Garden, Morehead Planetarium & Science Center, Ackland Art Museum, Old Chapel Hill Cemetery and Franklin Street among the town's highlights.

"Chapel Hill has done a lot to protect its past, and now, as it moves into building its strong future, it's wonderful that the National Trust is saying, 'You haven't lost all that makes you unique. You haven't lost the historic attributes that make people want to visit,'" said Laurie Paolicelli, executive director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.

The other locations cited by the National Trust include Alexandria, Va., Colorado Springs, St. Paul, Minn., and Sonoma, Calif.

People can vote online until March 15 to select the "fan favorite" from the 12 locations.

The National Trust has named its Distinctive Destinations for 12 years, and Hillsborough was honored with a selection several years ago.

Chapel Hill officials said recognition by the National Trust has led to a 10 percent jump in local tourism for many previous honorees.