In 1917 George Walker Blair, a local businessman, horse trader and livestock dealer, saw the need for up-dated accommodations for visitors to Pittsboro, and built the Blair Hotel on the court house circle where the old Central Hotel, which burned several years earlier, had stood. The new Blair Hotel offered modern facilities for its time. These included a steam bath, electric lights, hot and cold running water, and indoor baths and toilets.
The hotel was built in the “California Mission Style” with a low, overhanging tile roof and open balconies. The hotel facilities were located on the second floor, and the first floor consisted of commercial store-fronts. This seemingly up-to-date design was carried out before the paving of the town streets--when horses and carts were the predominant means of transportation.
An early commercial tenant was Hall’s Department Store, established in 1922 and which operated continuously into the 1960’s. Hall's was Pittsboro’s oldest retail business, and sold clothing for men, women and children; a line of general merchandise, and what was described as “a ten cent store department.”
Phreddie Popp says that she remembers her father having coffee with other men in the mid-1940s at a restaurant in the hotel. She also notes that Hall's Department store was a stopping off point for children walking home from school. It was the place to get 1-cent candy.
Even before the building was completed, it was put to use by the town to house newly-recruited troops on their way to WWI.
Adapted from Fred Vatter's March 2012 article in Chatham County Line and The Architectural Heritage of Chatham County, NC.
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