The Oldest Landmark on Campus

Julia Mueller
December 14, 2012

Students gathering at the Old Well in the 1960s.

Students gathering at the Old Well in the 1960s.

The Old Well was constructed in 1889 and was Elon College’s primary water source until 1906.  It was also the water supply for the Town of Elon.  The Old Well received its name because of its long history and age – it is considered the oldest landmark on Elon’s campus.

The Old Well after 1976 when it was bricked over.

The Old Well after 1976 when it was bricked over.

In 1904, several freshmen males “far forgot [themselves] and [their] proper sense of decorum,” as C.C. Howell recounts.  According to Howell, the students took the “college chairs, which were only nailed together with narrow strips in groups of six or eight, not fastened to the floor, and dumped them into the college well on top of the old oaken bucket that hung there.  That well was [their] only source of drinkable water.  The result of that escapade was, therefore, that on the following day [they] all had to stand up at chapel, sit in the windows or squat on the floor at classes, and drink vanilla or strawberry soda-water at Sander’s Store – – though some reckless souls drank coca-cola.” (Coca-Cola was feared at this time for its addictive properties).  The Old Well’s peak was in 1910, when the well was one hundred feet deep and could yield one hundred gallons per minute.  Elon College boasted that the “North Carolina State Department of Hygiene always reported ‘No Pollution’ and that there was “no better, purer, cooler, or more healthful water.”  The Old Well was a “trysting place of youthful lovers” as the boys and girls were not allowed to socialize except during certain hours, and this was a favorite meeting place.  The Class of 1926 made the well into a wooden gazebo “for the ladies in the summer.”  Fifty years later, the Class of 1976 bricked over the wooden structure surrounding the well and it is used today primarily as a gazebo and gathering place for people on campus.  Today, the well still supplies water to the fountain in the gazebo.


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