Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy Legacy Committee Report

November 30, 2018

The Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy Legacy Committee crafted a detailed report explaining the deep and complex history of the Dorothea Dix Park site. 



The report is broken into four sections: 1) The recommended theme to guide the park's issues overall; 2) An outline of the legacy the committee thinks should be honored or remembered within the park; 3) Proposed tangible ways to convey the legacy and what would actually be on the ground in the park; and 4) The committee's recommendations to the Dix Park Conservancy Board, The City of Raleigh, The Dix Park Master Plan Executive Committee, and Advisory Committee, the consulting firm MVVA, and the Raleigh City Council. 



Intro to Legacy Committee Report

Executive Summary to Legacy Report

Dorothea Dix Park Legacy Report 


An Excerpt from the Legacy Committee's Executive Summary: 


Wellness:  “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”

The World Health Organization


A Theme of Wellness: 

Our recommendation is to adopt a theme of wellness as the guiding theme for the park.  What will make this park a unique destination site is a theme that honors or commemorates the past and connects it to a vision for the future.  The theme of wellness will unite this place’s historical legacy, its cumulative meaning, and its destination value.


The Legacy Committee also recommends that the Park Conservancy and the City Council adopt a broad definition of legacy in honoring or remembering all that has occurred on this land – the Native Americans that lived here, the Hunter plantation, slavery, Dorothea Dix and her crusade to establish an asylum here, construction of the hospital with slave labor, the hospital during the Civil War, a psychiatric hospital for 156 years, the patients and staff, the buildings and cemeteries, closure of the hospital, and the hospital’s legacy in mental health reform and the connection of the past to the future.


The following are the components of the legacy of this land that should be honored or remembered:

  1. The Land Itself
  2. The Native American Legacy                                            
  3. The Plantation and Slavery Part of the Legacy
  4. The Dorothea Dix Mental Hospital Part of the Legacy          
  1. Dorothea Dix and the N.C. General Assembly
  2. Construction of the Hospital
  3. The Hospital During the Civil War
  4. The Buildings and Cemeteries
  5. The Patients and Staff at the Hospital
  6. The Closure of Dix Hospital
  7. The Legacy of Dix Hospital in Mental Health Reform Policy and the Connection of the Past to the Future
  1. The Evolution of the Legacy of Dix as a Park