For a brief period of time in the 1960s, UNC ran an experimental youth prison near what is now the Mason Farm Biological Preserve.

We were curious about this facility and researched it in local news archives. Here’s what we found:

  • The facility upset local birdwatchers. A Chapel Hill News story reports that bird watchers “see no reason why a little thing like a model research center in re-molding human lives and careers should mean the citizens who want to identify birds should be barred from the area.” The bird watchers apparently won – the gates were eventually opened so they could see birds.

CHYDARU closed in 1965 due to budget shortages, and was later repurposed to be able to store radioactive waste. The site was decommissioned in August 2001 and is now used for storage. The Wikipedia entry for CHYDARU describes six buildings, one of which has a one-way mirror looking inwards – which sounds really creepy! – and an aviary. A caretaker’s cottage was closed in 1985.

If you know anything more about these structures, please let us know! We’re looking for a new headquarters for TBB… 😛

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Melody Kramer is a Peabody-award winning journalist whose work has appeared on NPR and member stations around the country, as well as in publications ranging from National Geographic to Esquire Magazine....