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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Elisha Mitchell (1793-1857) and Mitchell Hall

Completed in 1964, this building bears the name of Elisha Mitchell, a longtime professor of science and a Presbyterian minister. He came to Chapel Hill in 1817 from his native Connecticut. He studied at Yale with Benjamin Silliman, a renowned professor who helped make chemistry and geology popular subjects by using laboratory demonstrations. Using Silliman’s teaching techniques, Mitchell's courses provided students with practical education in a curriculum dominated by the classics. He is best known for measuring the height of the Black Mountains in western North Carolina, which contain Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. On a trip to the mountain in 1857, he fell down a steep bank into a pool and drowned.