Pink House. 130 North Street. Back In The Day.

Fellow residents from the 1991-94 years were Clint Curtis, Shyam Patel, Raj Krishnasami, Lydia Craft, Jess Deltac, Kyle York Spencer, Caroline Rivers Hall, Mel Lanham, Michelle Sinnott, Jay Murray, N'Gai Wright, Scott Bullock (who crashed on the couch for a year before finally moving in), Bryan Ellerson, Karen Hurka, Sally Stryker, Ryan Mathias, Charlie Speight, Chris Palmatier, Trent McDevitt, and Steve William.



Besides holdovers and returnees Jay, Scott, Mel (& Laverne!), Chris, and N'Gai, residents during 1995-97 included Allen Sellars (who, like Jay, lived at both the Pink House and 401 Pritchard), Ian Williams, Zak Bisacky, James Dasher, Linden Elstran, Jiffer Bourguignon, Grant Tennille (who first made the scene as a fixture in N'Gai's room circa summer '93), Zia Zareem, Ben Folds, Tom Holden, and Chris "Chip" Chapman.

- Erik Ose

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Farewell to Hell


It's been so long since I went bar-crawling there that it took me nearly a year to realize Hell shut its doors for good in early December, 2008. Or maybe I stopped caring once Mark & Bronwyn sold the place in late 2007, deciding ten years was long enough to own a Chapel Hill watering hole.


Hell circa 2006. Photo by Patrick Talbert.

Before it was Hell, a short-lived rock club called Smokin' Joe's occupied the space, and before that it was Troll's, a typical frat bar. Hell opened the same month that the Lost City did, in April of 1997. So even before I made my first descent down those long concrete stairs, I felt a kinship with the place.

Plus, it was almost literally next door to the Pink House, in the basement of the multilevel building at 157 E. Rosemary St. with Bub's on the top floor. Hell was owned by a guy I'd known for a few years, Mark Dorosin, the local civil rights lawyer and Carrboro Board of Aldermen member, and his wife Bronwyn Merritt, who from 2000-02 ran a great little eponymous art gallery in Carrboro located in the tiny rectangular space at the corner of Main and Lloyd Streets.

Throughout the late 90s and early 00s, the spot was a mandatory stop on the Chapel Hill nightlife circuit, and THE place to go anytime for pool games, air hockey matches, and classic arcade throwdowns. I hung out there a lot, most memorably with '98-'99 crew members like Trish and Scott, then later with Jay, Lauren, Ellie, and the rest of the 401 Pritchard crowd. It's possible the last time I ever saw infamous grifters Chalky and The Wood was when one of them borrowed $8 from me to buy drinks there. Tim Ross helmed a long-running series of Chapel Hill's best dance parties of the past decade at Hell, dubbed Disco Inferno.


Disco Inferno, Oct 2006. Photo by Tim Ross.

Many a pickup scheme was hatched on Hell's inviting couches, hanging out by the amazingly well-stocked jukebox, or navigating the squalid, too-close-for-comfort men's and ladies' rooms. And I loved the place in no small part because Pink House party regular Malcolm Aaron and 401 Pritchard scenester Eddie Sanchez had permanent gigs as the doorman and bartender, respectively.


Eddie, Melissa, Malcolm and friend at 401 Pritchard Ave., Feb. 23, 2002.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mona Lisa's Ghost

In June of 2008, current owner Bernard Chi, son of our original landlady Sylvia Chi, put the Pink House up for sale. It had withstood eleven more years of rentals since being renovated in 1997. The asking price was $625,000, reduced to $612,500 by the fall after no takers materialized. With the local real estate market finally feeling the trickle-down effects from the national recession, it was a tough time to be marketing a rundown, modestly-sized former rental property that had been well lived in by students for most of its 70 year existence (the house was built in 1936).

Visiting the property on a recent afternoon, days after the first snowfall in Chapel Hill in four years, I found the Pink House empty, with a real estate agent's lockbox on the door, but no for sale sign out front. I was struck by how little some things had changed, at least on the outside. From the ancient porch light fixture, to the stonework still crumbling in the exact same places it was when I moved out in 1994, to the battered mailbox with one hook still broken from a long-ago Pink House party.

It was like stepping back in time, except that I have occasionally been by the place over the years. The last time was probably in 2004 or so, when I met some of the nice Christian girls living there and they proudly showed me the hideous mural of the Old Well they’d painted on the living room wall.

Although the back parking lot is currently still rented out to students, and it was the dead of winter, I thought I saw signs of growth stirring, as if the back yard was struggling to reclaim its former state of nature. And maybe it was the afternoon sun reflecting off the window pane, or just wishful thinking, but I swear that once I looked hard enough, I could still see the Mona Lisa in the front room...

smiling beneath all that white paint.

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