The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Monday, Sept. 25, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Guests at The Carolina Inn may be surprised to learn why they cannot unlock the doors to their rooms.

Dr. William Jacocks, the most famous of The Carolina Inn’s many ghosts, has been said to haunt the Inn and lock guests out of their rooms for more than 50 years.

Jacocks began his 17-year stay at the Inn in 1948, living out of Room 256 until his death in 1965.

Unlike most guests, employees say he never checked out, becoming a permanent resident at the Inn.

General Manager Jack Schmidt said the legend of Dr. Jacocks draws interest from employees and guests throughout the year.

But Jacocks is not the only ghost taking up residence at the historic Carolina Inn — which was built at the corner of Cameron Avenue and Pittsboro Street in 1924.

There have been nearly 20 reports of ghosts roaming its halls, earning it a spot in America’s Top 10 Haunted Hotels on

Evidence of Jacocks’ presence includes guests hearing rattling doorknobs, suddenly experiencing cold feet and smelling an unexplainable floral aroma in the room.

Guests and staff have also reported seeing Jacocks roaming the halls in search of unlocked doors.

The ghost is most famous for his posthumous work as a locksmith. Jacocks has been known to lock guests out of their rooms, forcing the Inn’s staff to use a ladder to unlock the door.

About 20 years ago — in an attempt to put the prankster in his place — the hotel split room 256 into four separate rooms and installed electronic locks on all the doors.

Despite this renovation, Jacocks continues to bar guests from entering their rooms.

But those interested in staying at the hotel have no need to fear — Jacocks is historically a friendly ghost.

“Dr. Jacocks was known as a benevolent man in life and is just as harmless now as he was then,” Schmidt said.

The paranormal action at the hotel led the Inn to investigate Jacocks’ presence.

In 2002, the hotel brought in a team of ghost hunters from Haunted North Carolina, a nonprofit paranormal investigation organization founded in 1992.

During their four-hour investigation, the hunters found possible evidence of Jacocks’ presence, including images of a floating orb, inexplicable sounds in his empty room and even what sounded like someone speaking.

Despite the evidence, Deonna Sayed, a member of Haunted North Carolina’s Board of Directors, said ghost hunting teams cannot truly prove the existence of a ghost.

“I like to suggest that all we are doing is collecting interesting data that something anomalous is occurring,” Sayed said.

The hotel is playing up its haunting, offering a special, supernatural package named “Room with a Boo!”

The package includes a stay in Jacocks’ famously haunted room and dinner for two.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

“We embrace our ghost,” said Martin Armes, spokesperson for the Inn.

Contact the desk editor at

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel Women's Tennis Victory Paper