Town Tuesday: The Colonial Inn

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Orange Hotel Ad 1867 Image One
Image Credit: Rootsweb

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 […] but, was advertised as the Orange Hotel (a name which lasted into the 1880s). The structure was built for Isaac (Isaiah) Spencer (from Hyde County) who had purchased the property in late 1837. 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 Cave Stroud.

Stroud family history has it that Henry’s wife (Sarah) saved the Inn from looting by Union troops by displaying her husband’s Masonic apron. Upon seeing the apron, a sympathetic Union officer, [whom] was a fellow Mason, protected the site from destruction.

The Colonial Inn 1870 Image Two
Strayhorn’s Hotel
Image Credit: Rootsweb

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. 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. [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. [At] this time, it became known as the Occoneechee Hotel.

The Colonial Inn 1890 Image Three
Looking East
Image Credit: Rootsweb

In 1908, Thomas A. Corbin purchased the property and renamed the complex the Corbinton Inn. In 1921, W. L. Foushee […] purchased the property from a H. L. Akers and by 1924, renamed the hotel the Colonial Inn. In 1946, Paul Henderson purchased the property from Foushee […].

The Colonial Inn Image Four
Corbinton Inn
Image Credit: Open Orange

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.

The Colonial Inn Image Five
Looking WSW
Photo Credit: Open Orange

It fell into disrepair for many years. When I moved to this town in 2011, it looked bad.

The Colonial Inn Image Six
The Colonial Inn Image Seven

The good news is, new owners are re-building. ~Vic

The Colonial Inn 2020 Image Eight

Additional Information:
The Colonial Inn Hillsborough (Facebook)
Old Town Cemetery (Hillsborough Government Site PDF)
Colonial Inn (Open Orange)
The Colonial Inn 1838-1969 (Rootsweb)
The Colonial Inn: It’s History & Significance (World Now PDF)

19 thoughts on “Town Tuesday: The Colonial Inn

    Marushka said:
    May 27, 2020 at 8:47 AM

    I kept hoping for a ghost story, but hearing the building is being renovated is the next best thing. It looks like a gem.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      May 27, 2020 at 11:33 AM

      Interesting you should mention that. I do know of a house that is definitely haunted and we do have “Ghost Tours” in the summer:

      But, I have never heard anyone mention the Inn being haunted. It’s definitely possible. I’ve just never encountered anyone saying so.

        Marushka said:
        May 27, 2020 at 11:38 AM

        I’ll just assume the resident ghosts are very secretive then 😀

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          May 27, 2020 at 12:58 PM

          Either that or, they’ve scared people into silence. O_O

            Marushka said:
            May 27, 2020 at 1:52 PM

            Haha that’s a far better version!

    Dayphoto said:
    May 27, 2020 at 11:00 AM

    YAY! I’m so glad it is being SAVED!!! I could live there happily!

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      May 27, 2020 at 12:56 PM

      I’m glad it is being saved, too. There was some fear that the guy who owned it (before the town intervened on its behalf) was going to have an “accidental” fire. He was one of those types that liked to buy things and promise people that he’d “fix them up”…only to let them fall to ruin. He did that several times in this county. He finally went into bankruptcy and tried to get the town to “buy him out” for an outrageous price. The town, in turn, started to sue him for having dangerous property and falling behind on taxes (this is the most expensive county in the entire state). The town finally got some assistance with outside investors that really wanted to keep the history of the place.

      You could live happily in this town or in the Inn?

    JT Twissel said:
    May 27, 2020 at 7:01 PM

    That is good news – I hate is see historic buildings torn down.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      May 27, 2020 at 7:35 PM

      It’s been a battle…for years.

    badfinger20 (Max) said:
    June 1, 2020 at 1:35 PM

    I’m glad it’s being saved. Too many buildings in America are lost. Cool history and I hope they stay with it and finish it.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      June 1, 2020 at 7:30 PM

      I think it is a group of investors. The guy who owned it for nearly 15 years (maybe 20) fought with the town over it and they finally took it from him with imminent domain. He wanted to have it torn down and sell the property to the highest bidder. The town-folk demanded it be kept. It was a Mexican stand-off for as long as I’ve lived here. Once it got to the point that it was in danger of falling down or (eek) accidentally catch fire (he was living in it), the town took it. There was a lawsuit, naturally. He took what they offered him and left…much, much less than what he was demanding.

      With our failing economy, will it generate revenue and pay for itself? That is the $64,000 question.

        badfinger20 (Max) said:
        June 1, 2020 at 9:44 PM

        I’m glad he didn’t get to do that. Damn we need to preserve all the history possible.

        It will Vc…I’m sure it will start turing around. We just have to get through this crap.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          June 1, 2020 at 9:52 PM

          IDK. I’m seeing a lot of engineered crap, on purpose. When I keep hearing “new normal”, over and over, parroted in the media, I am suspicious. Coordinated riots? I am suspicious.

            badfinger20 (Max) said:
            June 1, 2020 at 9:56 PM

            F*** the new normal. This WILL last at least the rest of the year though.

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