Model Of UNC Campus Rescued From Oblivion

I was both surprised and elated to see in the March-April edition of the Carolina Alumni Review that the model of the UNC campus constructed in the 60s has been rescued and is now housed in a gallery off of the Morehead Building rotunda. This was good news to me for a couple of reasons. First it was originally constructed by a high school classmate of mine at Hugh Morson High School in Raleigh, Frank Meldau, and secondly because what at one time was one of the University's prime show pieces will again be on display for all to enjoy, hopefully for years to come.

The model of the campus was originally constructed for the UNC Board of Trustees by Meldau, UNC Class of '60 while he was employed at UNC as an engineer in the Department of Buildings and Grounds. Many dignitaries who have visited the university over the years were shown the model and marveled at the detail represented in the work. For example, the bricks in the walkways on the model were to scale and laid exactly as they are in real life. This doesn't surprise me because I remember when we would bring model airplanes to school during World War II that Meldau's models would put the rest of us to shame. Originally each building would light up when the appropriate button was pushed but neglect and vandalism have taken their toll over the years and this feature no longer exists. Each building has a hole drilled in the bottom, however, and if funds are ever available for rewiring the buildings, it could be done wit little difficulty.

Everyone has always liked the model but in recent years, a problem has existed in locating a suitable place to house it. In the early 90s neglect and constant vandalism forced the model to be placed in the basement of the Morehead Building which was inaccessible to the public. The Old Well was taken from the exhibit on many occasions and each time it was replaced only to become a souvenir of another unthoughtful viewer of the model. The recent renovation took two years and cost approximately $40,000.

Keeping the model updated is a bigger problem than it might appear with all the construction taking place on the campus. New buildings will be placed on the model as they are completed and a possibility exists that the model will eventually be encased in glass.

So next time you are strolling around the campus with nothing in particular to do, drop by the Morehead Building and take a look. Consider how lucky you are that some friend of the University thought enough about the model to donate the money for its refurbishing. Sandy Roberts, director of the campus visitor's center which drove the restoration project, says the model has always been one of "our most popular exhibits" and I'm betting that it will continue to be.