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Gimghoul – Laurel Hill – Greenwood

  • Quick Facts
  • Year Built: 1920s-1960s
  • Housing Options: Family Homes
  • Square Feet: 6400+
  • Lot Size: .44
  • Schools:
    • Elementary School – Northside
    • Middle School – Culbreth
    • High School – East Chapel Hill

Most towns have them. Sought after neighborhoods that have been there “forever” and have an appeal like no other.

What makes these neighborhoods great is location. What makes these neighborhoods attractive is character. What makes these neighborhood endure is value.

Gimghoul, Laurel Hill/Rocky Ridge Farm and Greenwood neighborhoods have all three attributes in spades!

Back in the day, these “new” neighborhoods were called suburban Chapel Hill. The little Village had just started to expand in the 1920s. First came Gimghoul then Laurel Hill and next Greenwood. Today showcases the Laurel Hill/Rocky Ridge neighborhood.

Gimghoul’s classic roots date all the way back to 1876 when UNC president Kemp Plummer Battle laid out and mapped his favorite trails through the woods east of campus. As the neighborhood developed, Gimghoul never outgrew the marvelous, 93-acre forest of Battle Park bordering its northern and eastern sides. Neither did the neighborhood’s famous landmarks disappear in the flourishing community. The most haunting — and possibly most permanent — fixture of the neighborhood is the Hippol Castle, occupying the end of Gimghoul Road. Supposedly haunted by the ghost of Peter Dromoogle, who mysteriously disappeared in 1833, the castle was built by a secret society called the Order of the Gimghoul. Built with over 1300 tons of stone, the castle still stands over the area like an old European fortress.

The Laurel Hill Neighborhood is also known as the Rocky Ridge Farm National Historic District, listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. The land was originally owned by William Coker, who helped build the botany department at UNC and is known for creating the arboretum in 1903 that now bears his name.

From 1928 to 1940, Coker sold individual parcels of land for development, subject to restrictive covenants to ensure low density of homes within the neighborhood and compatible architecture between the buildings. The majority of these homes were designed by local and regional architects, many constructed in either the Colonial Revival style of the 1920s and 1930s or vernacular cottage styles. Coker was a leader in neighborhood planning, landscape design, and road design, and the neighborhood features the City Beautiful concept of a winding road following the natural landscape, in this case bordered by beautiful stone walls.

The neighborhood went through a second period of development following World War II that featured Colonial Revival, Colonial Ranch, and mid-century Modern styles. There was intense development throughout Chapel Hill in the years immediately following the war, as the demand for higher education increased and the town and University both grew in response. The homes built during this era were also architect designed, featuring the work of Jim Webb, George Matsumoto, and others. (Information courtesy of Preservation Chapel Hill)