Battle over Colonial Inn lands in court
Posted February 17, 2005
Updated November 5, 2008
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — The battle over a historic landmark went before a judge Thursday. The town of Hillsborough is suing the owner of the Colonial Inn.
Francis Henry bought the inn more than two years ago and promised to restore it. So far, town leaders claim, he has done little if any work on it.
Town officials had fined Henry $100 a day until he makes the necessary repairs. The fine has reached up to thousands of dollars.
The Colonial Inn, which was built in 1759, was rumored to be a stop for Gen. Charles Cornwallis and his troops during the American Revolution. Resident Jeff Woods said tour buses used to stop at the inn every Sunday morning, bringing hundreds of visitors to the town.
"When the buses come through after lunchtime until about 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., you would have people walking up and down and buying things," he said.
The town is hoping that an ordinance designed to prevent historic landmarks from decaying beyond repair will be enough to make Henry conduct the repairs. However, C. Gordon Brown, Henry's attorney, said the town is not playing fair.
"This entire ordeal that this man has been subjected to has been wrong," he said.
The judge is taking time to review both sides' argument. He may come back with a decision on Friday. If the judge decides to side with the town, the town could put a lien on the property and place it in foreclosure. If the judge declines to rule in the case, it could go before a jury trial next month.
Henry already dropped a counter-suit against the town without explanation.