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Welcome to Your Carolina Inn. We wanted to give you a place to share your favorite Carolina Inn memory or experience in Chapel Hill. Read, post, share and become part of the community.

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May 04, 2011 | 02:23 PM

A Light on the Hill

Imagine the places that touch your heart. Is it your childhood home? The tree in your best friend's yard? A high school theater stage or performance hall? What gives you “a sense of place?” For me, it’s The Carolina Inn.

When I was 4 years old, I declared that one day I would live in a house with a black and white checkerboard floor just like the ballroom in The Carolina Inn. When I was 12, my sophisticated friend Sarah and I organized a trip by ourselves to the beauty parlor followed by lunch at The Carolina Inn. We ordered hot dogs, and then hastily added a side of carrots. Isn't that what grown-ups do? When I turned 40, and had just completed almost a year of cancer treatments, my dear parents hosted an amazing birthday party for me – yep, at The Carolina Inn.

Years later, as the parent of high school students, I traveled to visit colleges across the United States. I came home, time after time, grateful that in Chapel Hill and for our University, we have a beautiful and treasured place to stay right on campus.

It’s really no surprise that The Carolina Inn is called “the University’s living room.”  Meetings, memorial services, weddings, celebrations, fundraisers, reunions, seminars and more happen at the Inn on a daily basis.

We have the experience and vision of John Sprunt Hill, UNC Class of 1889, and an extraordinary convergence of events to thank for the creation of The Carolina Inn.

• During Hill’s college years, the first Carolina football game was played in 1888 against Wake Forest. Our biggest rival in those early years was the University of Virginia. Trainloads of alumni and supporters started filling the town on football Saturdays. Townsfolk festooned porch railings in their houses along Franklin Street with blue and white bunting for the football weekend.  Hotel rooms in town were scarce.

• In 1889, to coincide with Hill’s graduation festivities, the University organized an invitation to alumni to return to campus for the Centennial Celebration.

• On University business in 1921, Hill spent the night at the Eagle Hotel (where Graham Memorial is now). He couldn’t sleep that night, as luck would have it.  Supposedly, the racket of rats rustling in the corner of his room was the final straw. He dressed and walked out into the night across campus. A full moon lit the way. He stopped at Mrs. Graves Boarding House, on the corner of Cameron and (now known as) South Columbia Street.

Hill bought Mrs. Graves’ house. He hired Arthur Nash, the architect developing Polk Place, to design The Carolina Inn to blend into the style of the campus. Nash’s design for the Inn was inspired by Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.

Hill and his family gave The Carolina Inn to the University in 1935 with the stipulation that profits go to the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library, which continues today. An engraved brass plaque from 1941 now hangs at the front desk of The Carolina Inn: “This generous gift affords a cheerful inn for visitors, a town hall for the state and a home for returning sons and daughters of alma mater.”

Historian Kenneth Zogry writes in his book, The University’s Living Room: A History of the Carolina Inn, “…the story of this place is complex; sometimes joyful and sometimes sorrowful, sometimes proud and sometimes embarrassing. But these contradictions are just what make the place, and its history, so compelling.”

Oh my, if the Inn’s walls could talk! And, now, they almost do. Have you walked the halls lately? History has indeed been brought to life in photos and memorabilia, all lining the halls. Peek inside the new gym for guests. Of course, a guest can change the wrap on the punching bag to, shall we say, “neighboring schools.” This is Chapel Hill, after all!  

“Fridays on the Front Porch,” gets into full swing in the month of May. Every Friday, 5 pm – 9 pm, a live bluegrass band plays on the front lawn of the Inn, with food and drinks available. Most special of all is the mix of folks sittin’ and enjoying the music, the start of the weekend, and each other. A true experience of this Southern Part of Heaven. See you there!

February 24, 2011 | 12:40 PM

Chapel Hill Receives Bicycle Friendly Community National Designation Celebration

Chapel Hill is already known as a bike-friendly town. Now, the League of American Bicyclists has designated the town as a bronze-level “Bicycle Friendly Community.”

A special event to celebrate the designation of Chapel Hill as a Bicycle Friendly Community will take place at University Mall on the stage in front of Dillard's.

Read More Here

January 14, 2011 | 12:30 PM

Renovating the "University's Living Room" - Chapel Hill Magazine by Eleanor-Scott Davis

74 guest rooms at The Carolina Inn have been renovated, primarily in the 1924 and 1940 section of the building. In addition, two new suites have been added including the three-bedroom Chancellor's Suite. We had the privilege of taking a tour with the fascinating inn historian, Ken Zogry, whose knowledge of the history of the inn is only exceeded by his passion to preserve it.

May 21, 2010 | 08:51 AM

Twenty Three Reasons to Visit North Carolina

After a recent trip to Chapel Hill and The Carolina Inn, Norm Woods, owner of GolfScene Media, reflected on his visit with “Twenty Three Reasons to Visit North Carolina.” Below are his top five reasons:

1) The Preserve - A Davis Love III Signature Golf Facility
2) Room 180 in The Carolina Inn, AAA Four Diamond Hotel built in 1924
3) Gene Fones, the affable General Manager of The Preserve Golf Club
4) Tasting North Carolina Wine made primarily from Muscadine Grapes and Vinifera grapes (there are now 76 wineries in North Carolina)
5) Walking Franklin Street, the main street in Chapel Hill - full of boutiques, restaurants & students

To read the full list, click here.

April 16, 2010 | 10:18 AM

To Right These Wrongs Publication & Film Event

History was re-visited last night in The Carolina Inn’s historic Old Well Room. The Inn was host to the publication event of To Right These Wrongs: The North Carolina Fund and the Battle to End Poverty and Inequality in 1960s America. The book, written by Duke Professor Robert Korstad and UNC-CH Professor James Leloudis, focuses on the North Carolina Fund’s efforts to end economic and racial inequality in the state.

The event highlighted an eight minute film of Governor  Terry Sanford calling for racial equality in a 1963 speech in The Carolina Inn’s Old Well Room. Click here to view and download the speech.

Guests were also treated to a discussion with the authors moderated by William Friday followed by a book signing with the authors. Historical 1960s photography by North Carolina photographer Billy Barnes was displayed in the Alumni Room.


March 30, 2010 | 08:34 AM

Chef Reale Celebrates Earth Day at Briar Chapel

On Sunday, April 18th Briar Chapel will host a Celebrity Chef Charity Event featuring several Triangle Chefs demonstrating their favorite recipes using locally and healthfully grown foods in each of their model homes.

Executive Chef Jimmy Reale will participate as a Celebrity Chef for this event. Check out this interview where he talks about his job as a chef, using fresh local ingredients, and his participation in Briar Chapel's Earth Day event.

February 11, 2010 | 11:48 AM

Tough Game Against Duke

Another great game in Chapel Hill last night – it was close for a while but we couldn’t close the deal.

Win or lose – the UNC Duke rivalry continues to be one of the country’s biggest sporting events.

Click here for a time lapse video of last night's game -- it's pretty cool!

We love our Tar Heels and we know that this young, talented team will have its day in the spotlight.

In Roy We Continue to Trust

December 30, 2009 | 09:22 AM

"New Years Eve for Procrastinators"

Still haven't made your plans or reservations for New Years?  You're in luck!  News and Observer's Restaurant Critic, Greg Cox, comes to the rescue with his hot list of local restaurants that most people probably have not thought of for their end of the year celebration.  So if you hurry, you might be able to get your name on the books.  Click here to view Greg Cox's New Years Eve Hot List. 

The Carolina Inn wishes Chapel Hill community members and out-of-town guests a safe and happy new year!      

November 30, 2009 | 12:48 PM

Chapel Hill - Voted Best Place to Raise Kids in NC

"In its current issue, BusinessWeek magazine has ranked the best places to raise kids in each of the 50 states and the winner in North not in the Triad.

Chapel Hill gets the nod, with the magazine touting its affordability, healthy lifestyle, cultural opportunities and highly educated population. Cary and Jacksonville were named runners up.

Last year, Jacksonville was first, with Greenville named runner up. The magazine offered no explanation what had changed in any of the cities named during the past year to change their rankings."

By Laurie Paolicelli - Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau


"Chapel Hill is home to the University of North Carolina, part of the world-famous Research Triangle. It attracts residents who enjoy a healthy lifestyle, cultural and historic attractions, and an intellectual environment. The area is home to one of the most educated populations in the U.S., as reflected by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools' three high schools, four middle schools and 10 elementary schools. The district has the state's highest average SAT score. And more than 90% of students go on to college."

By BusinessWeek
To view BusinessWeek's current issue click here.

October 15, 2009 | 08:52 AM

Fabulous Fall Getaways in North Carolina

"Ready for a fabulous fall getaway, but not so ready to invest in a pricey plane ticket or gallon upon gallon of gasoline? Why trek out of the Tar Heel state when it’s got plenty of perfect vacation points to offer within its perimeters?" 

Victoria Robinette with Charlotte Style Magazine has got you covered.  She's profiled five top North Carolina destinations for those of you craving to getaway for a weekend.  Click here to read full article. 

Been to Chapel Hill yet?  Tell us about your fall getaway in "The Southern Part of Heaven."  What were the perks?  What were your favorite spots in town?  We want to hear all about it!

September 21, 2009 | 10:00 AM

Chapel Hill - One of America's Top 10 Coolest College Towns

Once again, Chapel Hill is in the news!  This month’s issue of Travel + Leisure lists the 10 Coolest College Towns and Chapel Hill made the top 10 list.  Click here to read the full article.

“There are notable distinctions between college towns and other American cities. In the student-centric spots, bicycles seem to outnumber cars. Affordable restaurants serve up authentic cuisines from all around the world. The streets are densely packed with businesses, making for a highly pedestrian-friendly environment. Nature is usually accentuated: the shimmering Lake Champlain, back dropped by a saw tooth silhouette of peaks, forms the western edge of Burlington. Madison, WI, is situated on an isthmus between two lakes that draw hordes of hikers and bikers. Boulder, CO, is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

And don’t forget the bars. Each of these locales offers plenty of opportunities for imbibing, many of them ideal for both people-watching and soaking in the scenery. It’s hard to beat sunset cocktails at Austin’s Oasis, where tiered decks jut from a 450-foot-high cliff over Lake Travis.

These attractions are mainly geared toward the students, naturally, but they can be readily enjoyed by those with no homework assignments or college connections. After all, few sports experiences can top the rafter-shaking raucousness in Chapel Hill, NC, during a Tar Heels basketball game. Many schools benefit from world-class art collections in glittering facilities designed by marquee architects; Chapel Hill’s Ackland Art Museum, featuring a wing by Polshek Partnership, tempts visitors with Warhols, Titians, and Dalís in a way that many university-less cities cannot.”

From September 2009 By C. J. Hughes Travel & Leisure

September 11, 2009 | 08:18 AM

Travel Discounts for the College Bound by MSNBC

Are you one of the 19 million students going to college this fall?  Or are you a parent footing the high tuition bill?  With education costs rising, we know you'll be spending a lot of cash this year, leaving little for traveling between home and campus.  Today you're in luck!  MSNBC's travel writer, Harriet Baskas has done some homework for you.  View her article about travel deals for the college bound, which highlights The Carolina Inn's new 1924 Club exclusively for UNC parents.  For more information about 1924 Club membership and benefits click here


September 10, 2009 | 09:14 AM

The Carolina Inn Named "Best of the South 2009" for Meetings

Chapel Hill's historic Carolina Inn made headlines this week when it was named by Meetings South Magazine as "Best of the South 2009" among the 50 hotels and resorts recognized in the trade publication's September issue.  Only four other properties in North Carolina received this recognition.  Click here to view the article by Carolina Newsire.  Click here to read Carolina Business Connection's coverage. 

September 09, 2009 | 08:32 AM

Care Package for Your Tar Heel

Now that your children are off to college, what can you do to send them your love?  The News and Observer staff writer, Andrea Weigl, suggests sending a care package with healthy treats.  Her article "Sweet Gesture No Sugar Added" offers great tips on putting together the perfect care package for your child.  Click here to view full article. 

September 04, 2009 | 09:13 AM

Live Bluegrass Music at The Carolina Inn - Ya'll Ought to Stop By

An article by Lucie Shelly in the Daily Tar Heel nicely highlights our popular front porch events: Fridays on the Front Porch and our new Tailgate Party on the Front Porch.   Click "Read More" to view the full article.

Fellow FOFP fans make sure to check out our #1 FOFP Fan Contest on our facebook page.  Post your entry by November 2nd and you'll get a chance to win a 2 month FOFP package for you and four friends valued at over $1,000.

View our FOFP and Tailgate Party band line-up on our event calendar page. 

Bluegrass Comes to Carolina Inn on Fridays
by Lucie Shelly
Friday, September 4, 2009 

When Fridays on the Front Porch began at the Carolina Inn in 2003, the free event quickly garnered popularity among bluegrass enthusiasts and those looking for outdoor summer music.

This season looks to be no exception, as the crowd is bigger than ever, said Laurence Bézy, marketing manager for the Carolina Inn.

With the advent of the 2009 football season, organizers have decided to continue Tailgate Party on the Front Porch, an event they began last year.

The tailgate program also features live music just as Fridays on the Front Porch does. But it takes place on home game days and begins three hours prior to each football game.

Both events offer food and beverages for purchase from the bar.

“If you like Fridays on the Front Porch, you will definitely like it,” Bezy said of the tailgate series.

The performances this season will feature mostly recognizable local bands, such as Big Fat Gap and the Gravy Boys.

The organizers also are looking to introduce a few new groups.

“Most of the bands are local, but we have two new bands from the Asheville area,” Bézy said.

But for regulars of the event who have picked their favorites, don’t fear: they will return.

“The ones that come back every year are the local bands, and they will be back again for this season,” she said.

Local favorites the Gravy Boys will perform at Saturday’s tailgate.

The band has been a staple at the Carolina Inn for the past two years.

Steve Celestini, the lead vocalist, said the series is one of the group’s absolute favorite events to play.

“From the three-year-olds kickin’ up dirt and dancing to college kids and local folks with a few years on them — it’s a great atmosphere,” he said.

Celestini described the music of the Gravy Boys as “acoustic Americana.”

With bluegrass infusions, twangs of country and covers of musicians such as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, the Gravy Boys cater to a variety of tastes.

“We take a lot of pride in our crowd rapport and engaging in what the fans call shenanigans,” he said.

Today’s show will feature event-regulars Big Fat Gap, who play strictly Carolina bluegrass.

Lead singer Miles Andrews said that in recent years the concerts have become packed events.

“It’s such a great venue with a large lawn where you can sit up close for the music or hang around the back for socializing and soak it in,” he said.

If you go:

Fridays on the Front Porch: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays through Oct. 9.

Tailgate Party on the Front Porch: Saturdays of home football games, 3 hours before kickoff.

Click here for a link to the article.

September 02, 2009 | 11:47 AM

Life on the Hill

Find out "why Chapel Hill, North Carolina, may be the South's most civilized town (except when it comes to basketball)," in this article published by Garden and Gun.  Author, Nic Brown explains that he's "like the fool who can’t rid his head of memories of the girl he adored in eighth grade" but instead he cannot let go of his hometown, Chapel Hill.  Click here to read full article.

August 24, 2009 | 10:00 AM

Triangle Chapter of NACE Celebrates Chapter of the Year Award

Angela Ray of The Herald Sun, writes about the recent August NACE gathering at The Carolina Inn.  It was a special and happy occasion for The Triangle Chapter of NACE as they recently won the Chapter of the Year Award.  The Carolina Inn's four Catering Managers and Catering Director, Terri Nier, are proud members of this professional organization. 

The Triangle Chapter of the National Association of Catering Executives, NACE, held its monthly gathering at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill Tuesday. This was a particularly special occasion as the Triangle chapter members recently returned from the national meeting of the organization, bringing home the Chapter of the Year Award.

NACE is the oldest and largest professional organization that encompasses all aspects of the catering industry. The NACE gathering on Tuesday was centered in the Old Wing of the hotel.

"Summertime at the Carolina Inn" was made up of four rooms styled and presented by members of the organization. One room featured a seven-layer wedding cake at its center anchored by decorations in each corner. The second room was designed more like a social gathering and featured a popcorn maker, a pool table and Dave Brown of Coastal Cigars making fresh cigars on the spot.

The main ballroom, where the meeting was held, prominently displayed colorful daybeds, a stage, two food stations and two bars. The final room, called the Ice Room, was put together by Sugarland bakery, and featured a gelato bar and a martini bar. Doc and Katrina Ryan, owners of Sugarland, served up samples of the chilled desserts.

The event was not all about food and style, though. Amy Greene, the special events coordinator for Spice Street Restaurant and active NACE member, was busy selling raffle tickets to benefit the organization's fundraising efforts. Suzanne Pesta stopped by the table to support the effort.

Each year, the Triangle chapter sponsors a community service fundraiser to benefit the Interfaith Food Shuttle's Backpack Buddies. Proceeds from the raffle, which included two tickets to see David Copperfield at the Durham Performing Arts Center, and a hot air balloon ride for two, will benefit the Backpack Buddies program. The drawing will be held next month.

At the beginning of the program, Triangle NACE President Mark Day addressed the crowd briefly before other members of the group made remarks. The program was short and then it was on to the music, provided by Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos.

Brooke Fork and Alli Eidenmiller took in the music and fun together. Eidenmiller, who owns Sweet Memories Bakery, came to the event as a guest. Fork, on the other hand, is a new member of the organization, joining just two weeks earlier. Fork spoke highly of the group, stating it was a great organization.

Next up for the Triangle Chapter of NACE is its annual Top of the Table Design Challenge, which will be held Sept. 22 at Bay 7 on the campus of the American Tobacco Historic District.

August 10, 2009 | 07:30 AM

Ever wonder what a Chef cooks at home?

The Carolina Inn has been a Chapel Hill landmark for more than eight decades. Slightly newer to the scene is Jimmy Reale, who has been offering unique blends of progressive American cuisine for a little more than two years as its executive chef. Reale (pronounced Ree-al-ee) is a bit of a unique blend himself, with a combination of Lebanese and Italian heritage that made for good cuisine. "My mother was always making huge meals for our family, whether it was falafel and tabouli or spaghetti and meatballs, and we tasted a lot of different foods in our house," Reale says. "I think it really infl uenced how I like to experiment with flavors now."

Read more about Jimmy Reale in Chapel Hill Magazine's article by Zeke Smith in the July/August Issue.

July 07, 2009 | 01:46 PM

A Light on The Hill

Missy Julian Fox, Director of UNC's Visitor Center, offers a "Chapel Hill 101" itinerary in the most recent July 2009 issue of Southern Neighbor.  She highlights the treats and treasures that Chapel Hill has to offer both our community and its out of town visitors.  So fellow Tar Heels, if you can't get away for vacation this summer, it's ok there is lots to do in your own backyard.  Click here to view the July 2009 issue and view Missy's article on page 16. 

June 15, 2009 | 03:03 PM

"36 Hours in Research Triangle, NC"

Click here to read a recent article featured in the travel section of The New York Times on Sunday, June 14th.  J.J. Goode highlights fun cultural things to do and a variety of dining and lodging options in the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill area, including a highlight on The Carolina Inn. Goode refers to RTP as "a place marked by more than college bars and hoops fans."  Visitors aren't just bound to  our universities.

June 12, 2009 | 07:28 AM

Bolshoi Ballet Performs in Chapel Hill

The Bolshoi Ballet, one of the worlds' most renowned dance companies, is in town performing Swan Lake and Don Quixote with the NC Symphony June 10th-14th at Memorial Hall.  This ballet company rarely tours: in the past two years they've appeared only in London, Paris and Amsterdam and their tour this summer only includes three stops in the United States: Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill, NC, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and UC Berkeley in California. 

Memorial Hall is only steps away from the Carolina Inn and has hosted world-class performers since its opening in 1931.  Emil Kang, Executive Director of the Arts, explains what it means to Carolina to have the Bolshoi Ballet performing in Chapel Hill for the first time.  It is evident that Chapel Hill is part of a vibrant, cultural area and has become a leading place in the state to showcase international and national cultural events. 

April 29, 2009 | 02:56 PM

Benefits of Booking State College Hotels and Conference Centers - Plan Your Meetings, April 28, 2009

To all meeting and conference planners out there - "If you think you can't afford meetings in this economy, maybe you should give it that old college try. When meeting planners take their meetings and events on campus, they usually get more than they pay for."

Read Article

February 09, 2009 | 01:24 PM

America's Foodiest Small Town - Bon Appetite Magazine - October, 2008

Imagine a place where foodies not only have a favorite chef, but also a favorite farmer; a place where the distance between the organic farm and the award-winning restaurant is mere miles; a place where a sustainable future is foreseeable. It's all a reality in Durham-Chapel Hill.

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