Local News

Colonial Inn owner may be fined

Posted November 5, 2008 10:32 p.m. EST
Updated November 6, 2008 12:25 p.m. EST

— The Hillsborough Historic District Commission on Wednesday declared The Colonial Inn to be undergoing "demolition by neglect," a move that allows the town to fine the owner if repairs aren’t made.

The inn has long been a fixture in Hillsborough, and persistent rumors have British Gen. Charles Cornwallis and his troops staying there during the American Revolution. But the Colonial Inn was actually built in 1830, too late for that to have happened.

“It’s one of those places where people think fondly of and remember when they came to eat here in Hillsborough,” Alliance for Historic Hillsborough spokeswoman Elizabeth Read said.

Now the building, at 153 W. King St., has rotted wood, broken window panes and peeling paint.

Wesley Woods has owned a supply store up the street from the Colonial Inn since the 1970s. When times were good, the inn was a “big drawing card” for Woods’ store, he said.

“It’s a shame that it’s sitting up here all this many years, and they haven’t done anything with it,” Woods said.

The inn closed in 2001 and was auctioned off the following year to Chapel Hill businessman Francis E. Henry. At the time, Henry said he planned to restore and reopen it.

In 2004, the town sued Henry after town leaders said hardly any repairs had been made. The suit was dropped in 2005 after Henry made additional repairs and agreed to give the town a $2,500 grant to promote preservation incentives.

On Wednesday, town planning staff said Henry had applied for permits to fix the building, but no work has started.

WRAL was unable to reach Henry for comment.

Henry did accompany Town Planner Stephanie Trueblood and Orange County Building Inspector Don Knight on a tour of the property on Aug. 22, according to town documents.