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Raleigh’s New Dorothea Dix Park: Recovering the Park’s History for Future Generations

February 14 @ 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm

Dorothea Dix Park

A Brown Bag Lunch Seminar by the UNC Community Histories Workshop with Kate Pearce, Senior Planner for the City of Raleigh’s Dorothea Dix Park, Bobby Allen, Professor of American Studies, and Graduate Research Fellow Sarah Almond.

Please join us for a lunch-time presentation and discussion of the transformation of the Dorothea Dix Hospital site into a “destination” park, and the role of the UNC Community Histories Workshop in recovering the long history of that site.  From 1856 to 2012, Dix Hospital was the state’s principal insane asylum. For 150 years prior to 1856, Dix Hill, as it was called, was part of the Hunter family plantation.

After the closure of the facility, the 308-acre site was purchased from the state by the City of Raleigh so that it could be repurposed as one of the largest new urban parks in the U.S. The Dix Park Conservancy Board was formed to facilitate planning and design of the park and has engaged the nationally renowned landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates to develop a master plan. The vision guiding the planning process is to create a defining landscape feature of the city—a “destination park” for Raleigh residents and visitors alike. Dix project manager Kate Pearce will discuss the project’s goals and planning process.  The Dix Park Conservancy Board and the City of Raleigh are committed to honoring and preserving the long and multi-layered history of the site, making it a part of the experience of all who will visit Dix Hill in its new manifestation.

The Community Histories Workshop (CHW) is partnering with the Board and its Legacy Committee to recover the material history of the site so that it can inform and inspire the master plan and programming at the site over the planning and implementation phase.CHW faculty lead Professor Bobby Allen (American Studies) will introduce the work and mission of the CHW. Graduate Research Fellow Sarah Almond (UNC/NCSU joint MA program in public history and archives and records management) will discuss the work to date on the design of the asylum (by Alexander Jackson Davis, one of the most successful and influential architects of the mid-nineteenth century,) and on the records of the first half-century of the asylum’s operation.