FAQ: Former Colonial Inn
The former Colonial Inn, which dates to 1838, is a contributing structure in Hillsborough’s historic district, has been designated as a structure of statewide significance by the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
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What is the current status of the owner's renovation proposal?
In September 2018, the town Board of Commissioners granted Allied DevCorp, LLC's request to rezone the property at 153 W. King St. from Residential-20 to Central Commercial Special Use. The approval included a special use permit to operate restaurant, bar, event, meeting and hotel services as well as a plan to build additional hotel guest rooms on the property.
The board has not yet made decisions on portions of the project that affect the public right of way, including creation of a loading zone for trucks, placement of a fire hydrant, the width of sidewalk in front of the building and possible changes to on-street parking.
The owners will need a Certificate of Appropriateness issued by the Historic District Commission and then will need to submit construction drawings for final staff approval before work on the project begins.
What is the history of the town's involvement with the former Colonial Inn?
The laws of North Carolina and of the Town of Hillsborough defend against the destruction of cultural property, as well as against the creation of a public safety hazard and violations of minimum housing standards.
The town has dealt with numerous issues surrounding the former Colonial Inn property since 2003.
In January 2015, the town contracted with the Development Finance Initiative of the UNC School of Government to determine which types of public participation may be necessary to renovate the structure and return it to economic use. The documents at the bottom of this section explain the results of the study.
In July 2016, the town filed an action to begin eminent domain proceedings, primarily due to a concern for public safety. The action was taken to address long-running concerns with demolition by neglect, minimum housing code violations and other public interests.
In May 2017, the town filed a voluntary dismissal of the eminent domain action to provide the then-owners the opportunity to sell the property without interference from the proceeding.
In January 2018, the former inn was sold to Allied DevCorp, LLC with all requirements transferring to the new owner.
For further information, contact the Planning Department at 919-296-9470.
What is the historical significance of the former Colonial Inn?
The building at 153 W. King St. dates to 1838 and has been an integral part of Hillsborough’s downtown landscape. It is a contributing structure in Hillsborough’s historic district and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The structure was granted “statewide significance” in November 2003 by the State Historic Preservation Office.
The following information is included in the Hillsborough Historic District Inventory of 2006:
The building at 153 W. King St. — a two-story, seven-bay, double-pile frame building with attached two-story piazza — has an illustrious and complex history. Evidence surrounding the building dates it to 1838 despite local lore that it was built in 1759, according to local historian Mary Claire Engstrom, who conducted extensive research in the 1960s. The site’s vacant lot was purchased in 1803 by Henry Shutt, who then built a house in which he lived and operated a hatters shop. The lot was offered to public sale in 1820. Several inns surrounded the lot on which the former Colonial Inn stands, which may explain the confusion in dates. The building’s original portion — the present lobby and east dining room — was built by Isaiah Spencer in 1838. It has two huge chimneys of Flemish bond on the east end. The interior was remodeled around 1900. The original building was known locally as Spencer’s Tavern but advertised as the Orange Hotel. The inn kept the name Orange for 50 years; later names include the Occoneechee Hotel (1888-1908), Corbinton Inn (1908-1946), and The Colonial Inn (1946-present). Richison Nichols purchased the inn from Spencer, apparently in 1888, and was responsible for constructing the piazza flush with West King Street. The piazza features paired, chamfered posts and a sawnwork upper balustrade. In 1889, David C. Parks combined lots 15 and 18 to incorporate the Occoneechee Inn with the Parks-Richmond house, making a hotel complex. During his ownership, Parks hired Jules Korner, an eccentric designer from Kernersville, N.C., to update his buildings. Korner changed the window frames and doors on all three buildings associated with the hotel: the inn, the Parks-Richmond house, and Twin Chimneys across the street. Korner probably also added the paired eave brackets to the inn. In 1908, a large two-story wing was added to the west side by owner Thomas A. Corbin.
What does the designation ‘statewide significance’ mean?
The N.C. State Historic Preservation Office designates structures of importance to North Carolina history and requires authorization from the local historic district commission for those structures to be demolished.
The designation allows the Hillsborough Historic District Commission to deny applications for demolition of such structures indefinitely. Prior to a 1989 amendment of General Statute 160A-400.14, a local preservation commission could deny a certificate of appropriateness for the demolition of a locally designated landmark or property within a locally designated historic district for a maximum of one year. If no preservation solution for the property was negotiated within that time frame, the applicant could proceed with the demolition. For more information on the statewide significance designation, see the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office’s website.
The former Colonial Inn building was granted statewide significance in 2003.