Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802-87) was perhaps the most famous and admired woman in America for much of the nineteenth century. Beginning in the early 1840s, she launched a personal crusade to persuade the various states to provide humane care and effective treatment for the mentally ill by funding specialized hospitals for that purpose.
306 acres are left from a huge estate that was given over to the benefit of some of our neediest folks. As the fall colors take their time this year decorating Raleigh’s skyline, so Dix Hill’s fate lingers in the slow balance of state decision. Walk the big meadow with me and glimpse some early fall colors.
We turn from downtown and look down at the gazebo and greenway path which runs along Rocky Branch as it follows its new, straightened course beside Western Boulevard. On that walk we’ll see lots of elusive birds, wild grape, and some small spots of fall color.
The campus has many historic buildings, massive white and red oaks that ring the meadow, a small grove of highly productive pecan trees, and one open slope that is the joys of all sledders. Centennial Campus and the Farmer’s Market have already taken the lion’s share of what once was . Now the state needs to let Raleigh’s long term interests take precedence over a short-time cash windfall. The folks at Dix 306 are working hard to make that happen. We should support them any way we can.
Below is a trace of fall glory in midst of a glorious lingering summer. Hopefully this image does not represent the sunset of hopes for the landscapes of Dix Hill.
I went on this walk partly because of Ashley Sue over at Green Grounded, who complimented me in anticipation of seeing fall colors on Raleigh Nature. Below are clickable thumbnails of some other sightings at Jones lake off Sunnybrook, and then ending with my all time best fall picture, from the west Beltline. Happy leafing!
November 1, 2008
December 30, 2007
The oak grove above will probably survive whatever is to come, but the old “Dix Hill” where I went sledding has already been truncated by Centennial and the Farmer’s Market, and is now being fought over like a scrap thrown between dogs. I realize there is going to be more development of some kind,and that the state will hold on to some space – as a matter of fact, the Dix hospital employees I talk to say they don’t expect to leave. It makes sense for some portion – the juvenile part, say – of the mental health facilities to remain. I am not an activist but I’m glad the Dix group is working so hard to save what they can. The truth is, the magnificent lower meadow, surrounded by majestic oaks, with Rocky Branch edging it, is the prettiest place inside the beltline. A park here would go a long way toward establishing Raleigh as the true and enlightened city of oaks.
Rocky Branch above, Dix Hill pecan trees below