The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough
150 E. King St., Hillsborough NC 27278 (919) 732-7741

On Wednesday, August 6, the Town of Hillsborough Historic District Commission (HDC) will hold its monthly meeting, beginning at 7pm, in the Town Barn, located at 101 E. Orange St. The HDC’s agenda includes a hearing concerning the application for a certificate of appropriateness filed by the owner of the Colonial Inn, seeking approval of the demolition of the Colonial Inn, located at 153 W. King St. The full HDC agenda is available here. The meeting is open to the public, though only sworn testimony will be heard regarding the HDC’s design guidelines and the designation of statewide significance for historic properties.

The Colonial Inn was built in 1838 and has had a series of additions since then, the latest in the 1950s and 1960s.  It is one of the few historic inns in North Carolina that has had continuous service to the public over its long history, and even through the 1990s it housed a popular local restaurant.

The Inn was purchased in 2001 by Francis Henry.  Soon after the sale, members of the Hillsborough community approached the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough to prepare an application for a Statewide Significance designation for the building.   The designation was granted by the State Historic Preservation Office in 2003.  To download the full application, click here.  Statewide Significance is granted to properties that “help us understand the history of the state as a whole.” In addition, this designation provides protection to the building over the long term.  G.S.160A-400.14 reads as follows:

“An application for a certificate of appropriateness authorizing the demolition or destruction of a building, site, or structure determined by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) as having statewide significance as defined in the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places may be denied except where the commission finds that the owner would suffer extreme hardship or be permanently deprived of all beneficial use or return by virtue of the denial.”

In most cases, the local historic district commission has the authority only to delay the demolition of historic buildings.  However, the above legislation provides local historic district commissions the authority to deny the demolition of exceptionally significant structures, such as determined by the State Historic Preservation Office. 

Since 2004, the Town of Hillsborough has pursued remediation for neglect and zoning violations at the Colonial Inn property.  To see a full timeline, click here.  In June this year, Francis Henry submitted a Certificate of Appropriateness to demolish the Colonial Inn to the Hillsborough Historic District Commission.  The full application may be downloaded here

After the HDC hears the evidence presented on August 6th, it will make a decision on the application for a COA to demolish the Colonial Inn.  The HDC’s decision will be based solely on the evidence presented to it at the hearing, and HDC members are prohibited from discussing the application among themselves or with others, until after the hearing.

The Historic District Commission works to identify, protect, and preserve Hillsborough’s unique architectural heritage and to educate the public to the benefits of preservation. Among its official duties, the HDC reviews applications for exterior changes within the Hillsborough Historic District including the demolition of buildings within the district.   . 

For more information, please contact Hillsborough Town Planner Stephanie Trueblood by email at or by phone at (919) 732-1270, ext. 74.

The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough is an independent, non-profit organization, whose mission is to preserve, promote, and enhance the historical, cultural, and natural environment of Hillsborough for residents and visitors and support a vibrant and sustainable economy throughout the Hillsborough area.