Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Carolina Inn

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Institution Name: Davidson College
Original/Historic Place Name: Helper Hotel
Location on Campus: 215 N. Main St.; SW corner of college campus
Date(s) of Construction:
ca. 1848construction in three distinct sections; began as a modest two-story building
ca. 1860ended as a rectangle with a hip roof double gallery in the front and a widow's walk on the top
Designer: unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Regionalist/Vernacular (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: slate
ca. 1840private residence
ca. 1840other (rooming house)
ca. 1840other (teen canteen)
ca. 1840other (drugstore)
ca. 1840other (hotel)
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (meeting facility for campus presentations and lectures)
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration (program offices for the Davidson College Center for Interdisciplinary Studies)
ca. 2004-present (2006)faculty offices

This building was not originally owned by the college but was adjacent to it and over the decades has played a large role in the college's life. Its position in relation to the campus creates the impression that it is an extension of campus.

The structure is architecturally significant as an example of Jeffersonian Classicism, and it has strong associative ties with Davidson College and with the surrounding community. The Carolina Inn is the oldest building in Mecklenburg County that once served as a hotel. The father-in-law of two Presidents of Davidson College operated a drugstore in the building.

An inn was run at one time by Mr. Pinkney Helper, whose brother, Hinton Rowan Helper, wrote The Impending Crisis of the South (1860), an antebellum denunciation of slavery based on economic grounds. The book was significant. That Davidson College had a copy of the book in its library at that time is reflective of the tolerance that was fostered in the area. Additionally, there were no recriminations against either Pinkney or Hinton Rowan Helper.


Beaty, Mary D. A History of Davidson College. Davidson, NC: Briarpatch Press, 1988.

Davidson, Chalmers Gaston. The Plantation World Around Davidson. Davidson, NC: Briarpatch Press, 1982.

An Inventory of Older Buildings in Mecklenburg County and Charlotte. Charlotte, NC: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, 1975.

Turner, Paul. "Some Thoughts on Campus Planning." Planning for Higher Education 16, no. 36 (1987-1988): 27-28.


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Last update: November 2006