The Carolina Inn

August 1, 2012

This historic hotel on the campus of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is where Tar Heels go to dream. Whether they are looking to the future or returning to remember, the hospitality of The Carolina Inn is unmatched.

It’s just a floor, a black-and-white terrazzo surface in a checkerboard pattern. But it becomes something far more meaningful because of where it is. It’s in the Old Well Room, in The Carolina Inn, in Chapel Hill. In this place, the floor becomes a feeling. One step onto the storied surface inspires success, pride, and accomplishment.

The inn where the floor rests, The Carolina Inn — a colonial-revival-style structure framed by Pittsboro Street, Cameron Avenue, and Columbia Street on the western rim of the UNC campus — is the place people go to celebrate those milestone moments they measure the rest of their lives by. For every bride who dances across that black-and-white floor, it’s the moment she’s always wanted.

For The Carolina Inn, it’s one more dream fulfilled in an 88-year history of pleasing people. The inn plays host to hundreds of events a year. The celebrations run together, thousands of carefully crafted toasts and oncein-a-lifetime experiences, no one standing out more than another, all blended into the legacy of the perfect host. But a select few occasions continue in photographs on the inn’s walls.

Near the bar, a picture of a party hangs in the hallway. The woman of the hour is Missy Julian Fox, the daughter of Chapel Hill’s first family of fashion. Her father, Maurice, founded Julian’s College Shop on Franklin Street. The date of the photo reads June 22, 1991.

That night, Fox celebrated her 40th birthday and her victory in a yearlong battle with breast cancer. When she asked her mother — who she calls “a beautiful, Southern lady in every sense of the word” — how she would thank all the doctors, nurses, and neighbors, her mom replied: “Honey, we’re gonna have a hell of a party.”That night, The Carolina Inn celebrated a community that pulled one of its own through her most difficult challenge. That’s what the inn does best. It supports the community that supports it.

“It’s one of those things that you pass on to people,” Fox says. “It makes you feel your best self.”