|The Colonial Inn, Hillsborough
|The structure known today as the Colonial Inn was built on Lot 15 in 1838 as a hotel, and was locally called Spencer's Tavern apparently, but was advertised as the Orange Hotel (a name which lasted into the 1880s). The structure was built for Isaac Spencer, who had purchased the property in late 1837; an ad for the new hotel appeared in the October 18, 1838 Hillsborough Recorder :|
|In 1841, Richardson Nichols purchased the property from Spencer, and expanded the main structure. In 1856, Nichols sold the structure to the "Hillsborough Improvement Company," which consisted of Alfred, Henry, and Calvin Stroud. The 1860 census for Hillsboro lists Henry C. Stroud as a "Hotel Keeper" with ten boarders (in addition to several laborers and family members) living in his household, and an 1867 ad for the hotel names Alfred P. Stroud as the proprietor of the business (see image below). The Strouds lost the property via bankruptcy in 1868.|
An advertisement for the Orange Hotel, 1867
Circa 1870 photograph of the main structure, noted on the photo as "Strayhorn's Hotel"
William F. Strayhorn may have purchased or at least managed the business beginning in 1868, and the property was purchased by local businessmen Henry N. Brown and Charles M. Latimer (who was also the county treasurer) in 1870. The 1870 census for Hillsboro lists Strayhorn's occupation as "keeper of boarding house???," with five boarders (plus his family) living in his household. Brown and Latimer apparently lost the property through bankruptcy in 1872, with Strayhorn managing or operating the hotel until at least then. (Perhaps related is that Strayhorn had been living in "Twin Chimneys" across the street from the hotel, but lost it due to financial problems in January 1869.)
A "New York investor" may have owned the property for several months until it was purchased by David C. Parks in December 1872. In 1885, Parks sold the property to neighboring property owner Emily Pogue, who sold it back to Parks in 1888. Parks also purchased several other lots to the west and south of Lot 15, and greatly expanded the hotel complex; at this time, it became known as the Occoneechee Hotel, and consisted of five principal structures (see map below).
1888 Sanborn map excerpt
Parks had the hotel complex drastically remodeled and altered, namely by designer Jule Gilmer Korner, a.k.a. Reuben Rink, who was "famous" for his design work for the W.T. Blackwell Tobacco Company and later worked for Julian Carr.
Circa 1890s photograph excerpt, showing main hotel structure on right (view east)
By 1894 (see map below), the hotel property had been "consolidated," and appears to have only consisted of the main structure (on Lot 15), the other structures reverting back to a dwelling and various outbuildings.
1894 Sanborn map excerpt
In 1908, Thomas A. Corbin purchased the property and renamed the complex the "Corbinton Inn," after his name and one of Hillsborough's earlier designations (Corbinton/Corbin Town, from the 1760s). Corbin had the structure significantly expanded during his ownership.
1911 Sanborn map excerpt
In 1921, W.L. Foushee apparently purchased the property from a H. L. Akers, and by 1924 renamed the hotel the "Colonial Inn" (see map excerpt below).
1924 Sanborn map excerpt
In 1946, Paul Henderson purchased the property from Foushee, and was commended by Hillsborough's residents for renovating the structure, as apparently it had fallen into disrepair. During Henderson's ownership, a "fine-dining" restaurant was added within the hotel structure. In December 1952, Charles and Ann Crawford purchased the property and business, and expanded the structure. They operated the business successfully until they in turn sold it to James and Maxine Freeland in 1969. The Freelands also expanded the structure and continued the hotel and restaurant business at the location.
Branson, L. Branson's North Carolina Business Directory. Raleigh. 1867, 1869, 1872, 1890, 1896.
Engstrom, Mary C. Papers. Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.
Lloyd, Allen A. and Pauline O. History of the Town of Hillsborough, 1754-1991.
Sanborn Map Company. Fire insurance maps. 1888, 1894, 1900, 1905, 1911, 1925, 1943.
Turner, Cathleen. The Colonial Inn: Its History and Significance. The Hillsborough Historical Journal. Vol VII, No 1. 2004. 99-107.
U.S. Federal Censuses. 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880.
Also, visit www.colonialinnhillsborough.org for additional images of the Colonial Inn