Orange Slices: Plans for the Colonial Inn
Press Releases
Tuesday, November 06, 2018 07:57 PM

Allied DevCorp, LLC, owners of Hillsborough’s Colonial Inn, presented their initial construction drawings to the Hillsborough Historic District Commission (HDC), seeking to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA). The COA must be obtained before any construction can begin on the exterior of a building located in the historic district. While the Town Board has approved the rezoning and allowed uses of the property, HDC approval of the exterior building and landscape design is required for the project to proceed. After approvals, construction could start by the end of the year and the Inn could open 12 months later, in late 2019.

The building at 153 W. King St. dates back to 1838 and has been an integral part of Hillsborough’s downtown landscape since that time. The two-story, seven-bay, double-pile frame building with attached two-story piazza is a contributing structure in Hillsborough’s historic district and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It was granted “statewide significance” in November 2003 by the State Historic Preservation Office.

In September, the Hillsborough Town Board unanimously approved a rezoning request and a special use permit that included a restaurant, private dining room, bar and conference room on the ground floor, as well as a larger event center and four guest rooms on the second floor. The permit also allowed for a new, two-story wing with another 18 guest rooms at the rear of the lot. This wing will be surrounded by a patio and landscaped wedding lawn with brick pathways that will connect to the main building.

Justin Fejfar of Allied DevCorp explained that the plans call for the development of a facility with elegant sleeping rooms, a large event space, wedding lawn and a limited menu restaurant and bar. “We hope to partner with the excellent selection of Hillsborough restaurants to cater the events while further promoting their current offerings.” Fejfar continued to explain that there have been a few updates to the design, which include seven sleeping rooms in the original building and twenty-one in the new building. The event center is now on the ground floor instead of the 2nd floor.

Design guidelines of the Department of Interiors and local Historic District Commission include this important direction: “The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved.” Fejfar acknowledged this instruction by stating, “In spirit and in practice, this is how Allied has approached this renovation.” Allied DevCorp takes their designation as a National Historic Registry property very seriously and closely follow the Standards for Rehabilitation. “Our design will combine colonial and modern philosophies with colonial and historic architectural details throughout, coupled with today’s technology and design elements needed for effective event and meeting space needs.”

After consulting with other boutique hotel developers, Allied DevCorp decided to keep the restaurant size and menu small to better fit the size of the site while leaving sufficient space for a larger event center and adequate number of sleeping rooms. “This concept significantly reduces the concerns of having a high-activity loading zone which has been a big concern for many of the residential neighbors,” Fejfar said. They also hope to serve alcohol in the lobby bar which, in keeping with ABC regulations, will require some level of food service. The design elements of the new Colonial Inn will maintain its ties to the past, including a grand entrance hall, polished wood floors, simplified paint and wallpaper palettes and a light approach to millwork and wainscoting. 

The Inn has an illustrious and complex history. According to local historian Mary Claire Engstrom, who conducted extensive research in the 1960s. Evidence suggests that the building dates to 1838, despite local lore that it was built in 1759. The building’s original portion — the present lobby and east dining room — was built by Isaiah Spencer in 1838. Richison Nichols purchased the inn in 1888 and was responsible for constructing the piazza flush with West King Street. The interior was remodeled around 1900. 

Marlene Barbera, sales director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, says the Colonial Inn had long been a popular destination in the regional group tour and travel market. “I’m so grateful that investors are bringing it back. I’m confident the groups and weddings we can book into the property will bring a new level of energy and excitement to downtown Hillsborough.”

For more information on the Colonial Inn renovations, click here.


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