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.
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.
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 […].
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.
It fell into disrepair for many years. When I moved to this town in 2011, it looked bad.
The good news is, new owners are re-building. ~Vic
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)
[Note: The finding of the abandoned Mary Celeste is sometimes listed as December 5, 1872. This is due to time differences between “Civil Time” (land time) and “Sea Time”.]
A merchant brigantine, the Mary Celeste was built at Spencer’s Island, Nova Scotia and launched under British registration as Amazon in 1861. She was transferred to American ownership and registration in 1868 when she acquired her new name. Thereafter, she sailed, uneventfully, until her 1872 voyage.
[She was] discovered adrift and deserted in the Atlantic Ocean off the Azores Islands on December 4, 1872. The Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia found her in a disheveled but seaworthy condition under partial sail and with her lifeboat missing. The last entry in her log was dated ten days earlier.
She left New York City for Genoa on November 7 and [the] Dei Gratia departed for Gibraltar on November 15, following the same general route eight days [later]. [She] was still amply provisioned when found. Her cargo of denatured alcohol was intact and, the captain’s and crew’s personal belongings were undisturbed. None of those who had been on board were ever heard from again.
At the salvage hearings in Gibraltar following her recovery, the court’s officers considered various possibilities of foul play, including mutiny by Mary Celeste’s crew, piracy by the Dei Gratia crew or others and conspiracy to carry out insurance or salvage fraud. No convincing evidence supported these theories but, unresolved suspicions led to a relatively low salvage award.
The inconclusive nature of the hearings fostered continued speculation as to the nature of the mystery and, the story has repeatedly been complicated by false detail and fantasy. Hypotheses that have been advanced include the effects on the crew of alcohol fumes rising from the cargo, submarine earthquakes (seaquakes), waterspouts, attack by a giant squid and paranormal intervention. The story of her 1872 abandonment has been recounted and dramatized many times in documentaries, novels, plays and films and, the name of the ship has become a byword for unexplained desertion.
[Were] it not for Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, struggling to establish himself as a writer prior to creating Sherlock Holmes, perhaps the world would not have ever known or cared [about the ship]. Conan Doyle’s short story about the ‘Marie Celeste‘ (he changed the name from Mary) turned a minor puzzle into one of the most famous legends of the sea. Nevertheless, we should recognise it was fiction, for which his editor paid 30 Pounds, […] a respectable sum in 1884.
Smithsonian Documentary Clip