oward the end of his
days in Chapel Hill, Jeff MacNelly ’ 69
painted an acrylic of the exterior of The
Carolina Inn. One story has it that he was
fresh off graduation and needed money.
The image was used as artwork on menus
and brochures for the inn for years, but the
painting got lost. Then it turned up at a
Not a bad likeness. It’s also not high art.
Considering MacNelly went on to win
two Pulitzers for his cartoons, it’s not too
surprising that he wrote in a note to the
buyer, “I hope you didn’t pay much for
it.” Thus MacNelly, who died in 2000,
three months short of his 53rd birthday,
might squirm a little at the sight of the
painting as a centerpiece in the inn lobby.
As it turns out, his son Danny ’ 96 is
principal architect on the latest renovation
of the old hotel.
PHOTOS BY DAN SEARS ’ 74
Built on the site of the town’s namesake chapel, this is a place where things
always seem to be coming full circle —
the student who came here for a postgame
party becomes the parent who meets his
child here on Homecoming weekend,
becomes the grandfather here to reunite
for a weekend with old, old college
friends. It’s where Spike Saunders ’ 25
wrote all those personal letters to keep
wartime soldiers in touch with the best
part of home; from whence the business of
full circle known as alumni relations was
managed for 58 years.
Not as well known, it also is the monetary lifeline of the University library’s prestigious North Carolina Collection. When
John Sprunt Hill (class of 1889) built the
inn in 1924, he declared that whatever was