Welcome to the letter I and to this year’s Theme:
The Glories of Tea With Stepheny
By my calculations, all together, I have lived in Chapel Hill, Durham, and Nashville, North Carolina for 27 years. I have traveled across the state, up and down, and continue to marvel at its topography, regional offerings, and its people, many of them transplanted like myself, along with the spectacular folks who have been born and raised in the state. I grew up on the North Shore of Chicago. The area with its many facets: different food, architecture and a cultural scene helped form who I became. Carolina is different than Kentucky, the place I went to college, married a Kentucky boy, had my children there. Kentucky is in and of itself deserving of all 26 letters of this Blog Challenge. (Maybe next year.) During this 2020 Blog Challenge, I have deliberately written about North Carolina afternoon tea destinations in hopes of luring you here for a visit. There are many possibilities for your itinerary throughout the state that foster a sense of place, history, and southern hospitality that will serve you tea with a scone, raspberry jam, and clotted cream.
I have selected two North Carolina Inns for afternoon tea that are both ‘bucket list’ worthy. Both places have left me with lasting fond memories and with the desire to go back. There is a prestigious hotel near Duke University, The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club that opened its doors in 1988 to serve the needs of the University and Durham’s growing business community. The hotel was named for Washington Duke (1820-1905), who from modest beginnings as an American Civil War soldier in 1865 went on to become an industrialist and philanthropist, as well as a classic example of the American dream. I have been seated at the round table in this elegant room many times. One of my favorite walks is from the front door of the Inn past portraits and busts of the Duke family to tea with my long time writing group. Afternoon tea there is divine!
I first stayed at the Carolina Inn in 1992 when considering a move to Governors Club in Chapel Hill, NC. It is a quintessentially southern experience, gracious and welcoming. The hotel was built in 1924 by UNC alumnus John Sprunt Hill, a major benefactor of the university and designed by award-winning architect Arthur C. Nash, who designed a number of other university landmarks. Hill gifted the hotel in 1935 to the university.
The Carolina Inn is architecturally significant, blending elements of antebellum Southern plantation homes with Georgian and neoclassical features. The building’s original front was modeled after George Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon on the Potomac River. Nash’s design brought to fruition Hill’s dream of an inn that resembled Mount Vernon with its long portico, cupola, and roof balustrade. The inn continues to serve as a meeting place and hostelry for friends of the university and guests who stay awhile. Any meal, but afternoon tea is wonderful.