Fearrington Village Showcases Southern Hospitality and Agricultural Roots
Upon arriving at Fearrington Village in Pittsboro, you might very well think you’ve stumbled into an English hamlet. Although the village is fewer than 10 miles from Chapel Hill, it feels a world away. Founders R.B. and Jenny Fitch designed the community after the English villages that enchanted R.B. during his time in the Air Force. When he finished his service, he decided to bring a piece of the English countryside home with him.
R.B. went on to become a real estate developer. He began building homes in the rural landscapes surrounding Chapel Hill, careful to preserve the region’s natural beauty. As he went, R.B. and his wife, Jenny, began to imagine a community constructed around beauty, hospitality and historic preservation. They asked themselves: “What would make this spot in rural North Carolina a place where people would want to stay?”
The Birth of a Village
The answer, at least initially, was a restaurant. The couple remodeled a homestead that had belonged to the local Fearrington family and transformed it into The Fearrington House Restaurant, which is now celebrating 40 years of business. With that, the village began to grow, led by R.B. and Jenny’s vision to create a “coming together place.” Visitors needed a place to stay, the Fitches realized, so they built an inn. And if guests were staying the night, they would naturally need a place to shop and stroll and relax – so next they built the spa and gardens and boutiques. And on and on it went
“Fearrington grew really organically around what R.B. and Jenny thought would be a nice addition to the village,” says Kerstin Lindgren, who heads up public relations, marketing and special events at Fearrington.
A Stand-Alone Destination
It’s because of this organic expansion that Fearrington defies category. Today, the village is simultaneously a residential community, a vacation destination, a family getaway, an events venue and a working farm. The community is home to 2,000 residents, and the village center includes an independent bookstore, a coffee shop, boutiques, high-end dining and accommodations that transport visitors within the idyllic setting. All the elements combine to form an agrarian setting rich in history and hospitality. There’s not much like it elsewhere in the South – or anywhere in the U.S. for that matter. “It’s a stand-alone,” Lindgren says.
Once an 18th-century dairy farm, the family-owned and -operated village continues to preserve and showcase its agricultural roots.
“You can really sense the original farmstead here,” Lindgren says. Structures in the village center have been carefully preserved and repurposed. The original barn still stands, while The Belted Goat cafe is housed in the farm’s granary. Dovecote Style boutique inhabits a renovated milking barn. Acres of gardens contribute fresh produce to the restaurants.
Fearrington Village has also preserved the tradition of raising heritage livestock. Alongside guests and residents, Belted Galloway cows, Tennessee fainting goats and Columbian Wyandotte chickens roam the property.
“There’s a sense of the pastoral about it. We try to maintain a lot of the views you would see when driving up to a farm,” Lindgren adds. This means that visitors cresting the rise toward Fearrington are greeted by views of a silo and grazing cows.
Treating Visitors Like Family
Beyond the farm, Fearrington Village celebrates North Carolina’s culture through a commitment to Southern hospitality with a dedication to offer a warm welcome to all. “It’s the most important thing about what we do,” Lindgren says. “It is the kernel that started the place. We want everyone who comes to visit – whether they’re coming for the night or just for a cup of coffee and to browse the bookstore – to feel welcome.”
Location: 2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, NC 27312 Phone: (919) 542-2121 Website: fearrington.com
If You Go
Location: 2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, NC 27312
Phone: (919) 542-2121
This is helped by the fact that many of the staff members have worked together for decades. R.B. and Jenny Fitch’s family remains closely involved in the day-to-day operations. As guests know and the staff confirms, this is not a place you want to leave.
Whatever escape visitors are looking for, Fearrington Village offers it. “You don’t have to come and drop a bundle,” she says. “If you’re looking for a place to spend a day with the kids, it’s a great place for that. It can also be a special anniversary weekend. It’s just a matter of what you’re looking for.”
– Annelise Jolley