Greensboro Neighborhood has Magical Holiday Light Display

One of the “must-do” things to experience while in Greensboro for the holidays is to drive through the Sunset Hills neighborhood to see the magical display of lighted Christmas balls. A good place to start viewing is the corner of Madison Avenue and Ridgeway Drive. Most of the homes in the neighborhood participate. The homeowners make Christmas balls by wrapping strings of holiday lights around a chicken-wire base. The first Sunday after Thanksgiving, hundreds of light balls are thrown over branches of trees and then they are all plugged in. The effect of muti-colored balls of light dangling over the streets and yards is magical and wonderful. Thousands of cars drive by during the holiday to view the lights. Everyone is encouraged to leave behind donations of non-perishable food for the local food pantry at several collection sites throughout the neighborhood.

A 2009 YouTube video does a great job of giving you an idea of how cool the neighborhood looks at night. (My photos just don’t do it justice!) The video also tells the story of how this all got started. You can also visit their blog for more information and instructions on how to make Christmas Light ball.

The Christmas Light Balls in the Sunset Hills neighborhood are part of what makes Greensboro special. Come and visit to see for yourself! And, of course, we invite you to stay at the Troy-Bumpas Inn whenever you are in Greensboro, NC.


Why are North Carolinians Tar Heels?

December is the month for parties, so if you’re looking for some ice-breaker trivia, look no further. When the conversation need a little pick-me-up, you can pose the question: ‘Ever wonder why North Carolinians are called Tar Heels? Then, be a smarty pants and tell ‘em the story:

The origin of the nickname comes from the fact that North Carolina has an abundance of pine forests that for centuries were our country’s chief source of tar, pitch and turpentine used for painting, caulking and preserving the wood and ropes used in navel and merchant vessels. By 1768, North Carolina produced 60 percent of the colonies’ supply of these three products. Production involved heating pine lumber in charcoal beds to extract and collect a black ooze. This was a messy process that often caused the soles of the workers’ shoes to be coated with tar. Popular legend says that after a Civil War battle in Virginia in which the Virginia troops fled while the North Carolinians stuck to their positions, as if held fast by tar, Confederate General Robert E. Lee is said to have exclaimed, “God bless the Tar Heel boys.”  The story goes on to say that Confederate President Jefferson Davis asked jokingly if there was a surplus of tar available from North Carolina for other commanders to use to smear it on the shoes of their soldiers’ heels to help them hold steadfast against the Union attacks.

While it is unproven that Robert E. Lee actually coined the Tar Heel nickname, he certainly popularized the term and gave it a positive meaning. North Carolinians have been proud to be called Tar Heels ever since.

It’s no surprise that the pine is the state tree of North Carolina. There is a spectacularly tall long needle pine tree in the front corner of the yard at the Troy-Bumpas Inn in Greensboro. While the age of the tree is unknown, it towers over the inn, which is three stories tall. This tree has no doubt been witness to a lot of history. Greensboro is a great city for history buffs. Come see for yourself, and we welcome you to stay at the Troy-Bumpas Inn, 114 S. Mendenhall St., Greensboro, NC.
The tall Troy-Bumpas Inn pine tree

This long needle pine tree
has towered over the Troy-Bumpas Inn
for many years.

Greensboro’s Troy-Bumpas Inn Decorated for the Holidays

The Troy-Bumpas Inn is decorated for the holidays! Here are a few shots, but we invite you to visit and see for yourself. We welcome holiday travelers, whether you’re seeking a get-a-way from the holiday hustle and bustle, a home base for exploring all that Greensboro has to offer for the holidays, or visiting family or college students living nearby.

Greensboro Museum Tells How Sit-Ins Were Catalyst for Civil Rights Movement

If you ever doubted that a small group of people can spark significant and meaningful change in the world, be sure to visit the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, NC. The museum, located at 134 S. Elm St. in the historic 1929 F.W. Woolworth building in downtown Greensboro, tells the story of how four college students at NC State A&T began the nonviolent protests of the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins. Their actions served as a catalyst in the U.S. civil rights movement.

Museum docents lead visitors through the chronologically arranged exhibits, explaining the conditions under which blacks lived in this country from its founding to the 1960s. The exhibits help build an understanding of the Injustices experienced by African Americans in times when segregation and “Jim Crow” laws permeated society. Through a variety of videos, interactive exhibits, and displays of artifacts, visitors are transported back to a dorm room at the nearby NC State A&T campus so see what went through the minds of four black college students — Ezell Blair, Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond – as they planned to sit at the “whites only” lunch counter of their local Woolworths. They intended to ask to be served food seated at the counter rather than having to pick it up as carryout at the end of the counter. This original lunch counter and stools where the four students began their protest on Feb. 1, 1960, are preserved at the museum. In the six months following the initial Greensboro sit-in, the non-violent sit-in movement expanded to other college campuses elsewhere in North Carolina and in Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Maryland, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, GeWoolworth Building (1929), 132 South Elm Street (corner of Elm Street & February One Place), Greensboro, North Carolinaorgia and Mississippi. As a result of the movement, Woolworth stores as well as others took down their “whites only” signs and and permitted all customers to eat at the counter.

At our recent visit to the museum, docent Anita Johnson did a fantastic job of leading our group through the exhibits. Her compassion for teaching about civil rights was evident, and she truly brought history to life.

Greensboro is filled with history from the Revolutionary War to modern times. I highly recommend a visit to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. (It’s less than a mile from the Troy-Bumpas Inn.) The high-tech displays are especially well done and the docents are enthralling. I found the hour-long visit very moving, educational and extremely worthwhile. The museum is appropriate for all ages although more sensitive visitors should be aware that there are a few graphic images that help tell the story of some of the violence inflicted upon African Americans. For hours and admission fees, visit  


If you’ve already been to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, share with me your thoughts about the museum! This museum is just one reason why Life in Greensboro is good!

Greensboro’s Troy-Bumpas Inn Opens its (New and Improved) Door

Keeping a B&B in ship shape means there’s always maintenance work. I had recently just begun to repair and paint the interior side of the Troy-Bumpas Inn’s front door, when news came over NPR that Andy Rooney, of CBS’ 60 Minutes fame, had died. Highlights of his obituary included Rooney describing how he had convinced folks at 60 Minutes to allow him to write and read an essay each week. “What would you write about?” he was asked. Looking around the room, he said something like, “Well, anything. I could write about doors.” And indeed doors were the subject of his first essay.

Rooney probably started that essay with, “Did you ever notice that doors…” I thought about that as I studied the door I was sanding. I noticed that it was put together with wooden pegs, making it very likely the original door to the house. If so, the door is now 164 years old. The Rev. Sidney M. Bumpass, who had the house built, must have proudly walked through this door back in 1847.

I thought about all the other people who must have passed through this door in the ensuing years. The Rev. Bumpass only lived in the house a few years before typhoid killed him. His young wife Frances must have rushed out that door to be at her dying husband’s bedside. After his death, Frances Bumpass taught elementary school at the house to make ends meet. Countless children must have come and gone to school through this portal. The house also served as the Western Greensboro Union Headquarters at the end of the Civil War. Did General Jacob D. Cox come and go through this door as he commanded Union forces that occupied post-Civil War Greensboro? Ah, such scope for the imagination!

Would any of the past residents have resented the fact that I was refinishing this original door? I hoped not, but I had little alternative.  Flaking paint (as you can see in the photo) had come to the attention of the health inspector who said we had to fix it. I thought of all those Antiques Road Show episodes where they tell you you’ve cut the value of an antique in half by refinishing it, even if the old item looks worn and weathered. But when the health inspector tells you to do something to your facility, you do it.

Front door in need of repair
The door prior to repairs

As I sanded away the old finish, I realized the door had at one time been a tan color and originally was green. At least I wasn’t the first to repaint the door. I realized the original green echoed the tones in the tiles around the fireplace and decided it would be a perfect color to bring back to the door. Before I could apply the paint, I used wood putty fill in dozens of tiny holes that appeared to be from thumb tacks. Did Frances post notes to the students on the door?  It’s probably more likely those holes dated back to the 1980s when the house was divided into student apartments. Maybe the front door doubled as a bulletin board with “rent due” notices.

Yes. There’s a lot you can notice about a door. We invite you to visit the Troy-Bumpas Inn and see for yourself how nice the front door now looks. (To be honest, my photos don’t do it justice!) And the front door is only the beginning. We’re pretty proud of the whole inn and love sharing it and our historic city with others.

Interior front door, now repainted

A fresh coat of paint on the door


Registered guests consent to the following policies.

  • Rates are for one or two people and include a full breakfast (continental if you prefer) each day. Rates are subject to state and local taxes.
  • There is a charge of $30 per person per night for each additional person. Children sleeping in their parents’ room count as additional people. Not all rooms may be available for additional guests. Please consult with the innkeepers.
  • Rates are subject to change without notice. Special events and holidays may have higher prices and may have a minimum stay requirement. We always honor the rate quoted at the time your reservation is confirmed.
  • Corporate rates are for single occupancy and are available Monday through Thursday nights excluding holidays and International Furniture Market dates. You must have proof that you are traveling on local business to get this rate – innkeepers’ discretion. Please contact the innkeepers if you have questions. Corporate cancelation policy is 24 hours.
  • Reservations may be made online at our website at anytime. If you prefer to speak with one of the innkeepers, please call 336-370-1660 or e-mail us at Office hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern Time USA). If calling outside these hours, please leave a detailed message.
  • A 50% deposit or one night’s lodging on multi-night stays applied to a valid credit card/debit card (MasterCard, Visa or Discover) is required to obtain a confirmed reservation. The balance is due upon arrival. No refunds for early departure unless room can be rebooked. We accept personal checks drawn on U.S. banks if we receive the check at least 30 days prior to your scheduled arrival. All overseas transactions must be by credit card. We never accept overpayment of any kind, including credit cards. Your reservation is not confirmed until you have been contacted by us and a one night deposit for your stay has been made/received.
  • All cancelations are subject to a $25 processing charge due to fees incurred for initial deposit and cancellation. Cancellations within three days or less of scheduled arrival are non-refundable unless we can rebook your room. Once guests check in, they are responsible for the full quoted cost of their stay. For reservations made more than six months in advance, a 30-day cancelation policy applies. You may wish to purchase trip cancellation insurance, offered by AAA and other travel companies.
  • We welcome children aged 12 years and older accompanied by a parent or guardian. We cannot accommodate pets of any sort.
  • So that we can prepare for guests, check-in is between 3 to 6 p.m. Early and late arrivals may be possible if prearranged. Check-out is by 11 a.m.
  • We are a non-smoking inn. Smoking is only permitted outdoors in a designated area and is not permitted on the porches or on the outdoor back stairs. Guests who smoke in the inn may be asked to leave, charged for their full reservation, and will be charged an additional cleaning fee of at least $50.
  • Candles, incense, and any open flames are prohibited in our historic home. (No one wants to be roused out of bed by our very sensitive smoke alarms. Our insurance agent thanks you, too.)
  • Should damage be caused by a guest, the innkeepers reserve the right to charge the credit card on file to remedy the situation.
  • Unless alternative arrangements are made with the innkeepers in advance, we can allow only paid, registered guests on the premises.
  • Guests who use the inn’s Internet service agree not to use the network to gain unauthorized access to any computer systems; to download, display, upload or transmit obscenity or pornography; or illegally download or distribute copyright-protected materials.

The Troy-Bumpas Inn is licensed business in the City of Greensboro and inspected by the Guilford County Department of Public Health.