The Haunted Carolina Inn

Posted by junketseo in Charlotte Ghost Tours
The Haunted Carolina Inn - Photo

More than 200 years ago, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill opened its doors to students hoping to further their education. More than 130 years later, a new fixture was added to the campus grounds, serving as a meeting place for campus personnel, students, and locals. Its facade, a blend of European, Georgian, and Neoclassical influences, gave way to Southern Colonial architecture. Embodying the look and feel of a classic Southern plantation, The Carolina Inn is a striking facility, the visual appeal of its red brick exterior only matched by the lavished interior.


As a part of the Chapel Hill community for over a century, The Carolina Inn has been privy to the local highs and lows. Even as the Inn grew and expanded over the years, it retained the best and worst memories to have graced its sumptuous halls. A stay in the 185-room hotel puts you in the middle of that melting pot of energy. Though none will doubt the extravagance or high-quality accommodation offered by The Carolina Inn, they often come with a visit from the other side.


The Carolina Inn is an important piece of UNC history, poised to remain as such for another 100 years. 


Who is the ghostly resident of The Carolina Inn?


Guests at The Carolina Inn are not always among the living. Feel a biting chill in your room? Caught a hint of fresh flowers in a room where none are present? That may be Dr. William Jacocks, The Carolina Inn’s resident prankster and welcoming party. When you’re ready to learn more about the spirits that inhabit North Carolina, book a Charlotte ghost tour with Queen City Ghosts!


The Inn Comes to UNC Chapel Hill


Today, The Carolina Inn operates as most hotels would. Along with the 185 rooms, a combination of standard guestrooms and suites, the grounds also feature ballrooms ideal for gatherings and corporate events and a beautifully decorated courtyard hosting gatherings and other joyous occasions. Though it’s a hotel, the inn can feel like a museum, with much of its interior and overall design calling back to its 20th-century roots and walls lined with historic photos.


In 1924, things were quite different, especially in the ten years after former UNC student John Sprunt Hill commissioned the construction of the red-bricked building. Famous architect Arthur C. Nash lent his expertise to the design, resulting in an amalgam of styles that had yet to be attempted. Its striking and unique exterior mimicked the style of plantations, minus their troublesome history. 


For 11 years, Hill operated the building as a private enterprise before donating it to the University. The hope was that UNC would be a warm place for visitors and a centralized location to serve as a town hall for Chapel Hill. As the town and the University grew, the inn was forced to expand.


Over multiple renovations and a period when the building was feared to be beyond repair, it grew to its current incarnation. This expansive facility serves both the local community and guests of Chapel Hill and the University.


The Carolina Inn’s Eternal Guest


The Carolina Inn is so accommodating and friendly that some guests keep coming back, even when their tenure in the realm of the living has ended. Guests often speak of gentle rappings on their door or the sounds of heavy footsteps pacing in the halls when no person is present. For many of these occurrences, a known and beloved source is Dr. William Jacock. 


The former (and current) resident of The Carolina Inn is said to have lived at the hotel from sometime in 1948 until his passing in 1965. According to the University, the good doctor lived in Room 252, one of the inn’s most active rooms. Curtains moved, and handles jiggled, though Dr. Jacock’s greatest otherworldly prank forced the hotel to remove the door to his former room. Lore has it that the doctor would lock guests out of the room, and it was stuck so tightly one day that it had to be removed completely. 


Dr. Jacock’s room changed slightly in 1990 when renovations divided it into four rooms. That hasn’t stopped the ghostly resident, who still haunts his former abode. Simply ask for Room 256, the forever home of Dr. William Jacock.


The Aftermath of Tragedy


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has seen its fair share of tragedy, among the most recent being the murder of school faculty advisor Zijie Yan. Though the killing occurred in the campus science building, the event’s dark tendrils snaked their way into The Carolina Inn as the hotel became a headquarters for press and law enforcement. The heaviness of Yan’s murder lingered within the inn, much as it had when five students were killed in a fire at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house in 1996. 


Though neither incident occurred at the hotel, they became part of its history as media and concerned citizens gathered. Their collective energy left an imprint on the hotel that one may feel as they walk through the antique building. The Carolina hasn’t remained completely clean of shocking events, though, as it was the victim of a 2018 robbery that resulted in a fatal shooting offsite.


Could the inn’s ties to these dark marks in Chapel Hill’s history cause darkness to fester within the otherwise pleasant building? For all the light and joy Dr. Jacock brings to The Carolina Inn, there’s still room for a touch of manifested malevolence you may enjoy during your Charlotte ghost tour.


Explore a Haunted Icon of Chapel Hill


Dr. Jacock is only one of several spirits believed to haunt The Carolina Inn. His tricks are very well-known to staff, but so is the presence of a mysterious man dressed in an all-black suit, blue overcoat, and knit hat. Is this the playful doctor or a different apparition altogether? Maybe a forgotten guest who passed away in the inn’s confines or a community member who felt a strong tie to the hotel.


Over 100 years of history have unfolded within its walls, and The Carolina Inn has many stories to tell. Some of them involve the spectral residents, who give some guests a fright during their stay. 


Get to know the ghosts of North Carolina on a thrilling Charlotte ghost tour, or check out our blog for more stories like that of Dr. William Jacock. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to explore more of Charlotte’s most haunted and see what other haunts await you nationwide.