The Gift of an Icon

In the fall of 1921, John Sprunt Hill, class of 1889, was on the Carolina’s campus for a meeting of the Board of Trustees. Staying at an old ramshackle hotel on Franklin Street, he was unable to sleep because of the heat and the uninvited four-legged guests scurrying about the room. He got up and dressed, and decided to take a walk in the night air.

Coming upon the west end of campus, he saw a beautiful piece of property in the moonlight that gave him a vision: a cheerful inn for visitors, a town hall for the state and a returning home for alumni.

Hill purchased the property, a plot of land just outside the campus boundary, and engaged architect Arthur Nash, who had studied at Harvard and the Ecole des beaux Arts in Paris, to design the new Carolina Inn for the site.

With construction completed in 1924, the Carolina Inn quickly became a comfortable and iconic home away from home for visitors and alumni. In 1935, Hill donated the hotel to the University on one condition: that the profits from the Inn would support what would later become the North Carolina Collection in Carolina’s Wilson Special Collections Library.

The Carolina Inn continues to support the North Carolina Collection to this day.

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