RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Three historic stone buildings in Downtown Raleigh’s biggest park are getting an upgrade.
The city and state are working together to honor history through a new public space in Dorothea Dix Park.
With shattered windows, peeling roofs and rotting wood, three abandoned 100-year-old buildings in the park are ready for some ‘TLC’ — tender loving care.
Their current condition is not how Stan Young remembers these houses when he lived in one of them as a child.
“I’m moved to come back,” he said. “I ride bikes in the area so I’ll start riding bikes around here.”
Built in 1923, the Superintendent’s House — that Young lived in — Physician’s House and Gatekeeper’s Cottage were entry points to the former Dorothea Dix Hospital, or ‘Dix Hill.’
It was a landmark mental health facility for central North Carolina.
According to the National Park Service, the hospital opened in 1856. In 2000, it was determined that Dix Hill must shut down.
Thousands of patients and guests walked through the historic buildings’ doors before the hospital officially moved out its last patients and closed permanently in 2012.
Now, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to become visitors.
State organizations and the City of Raleigh broke ground Thursday to restore the buildings.
They’re going to turn them into public visitor centers with botanical gardens outside.
“There will be a trail so people in wheelchairs, or who have other disabilities, can come here in a very comfortable way and participate in activities,” City of Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said. “Whether it be gardening, or meetings or school children.”
The restoration will cost $5 million, an amount gifted from the State Employees Credit Union (SECU) and the SECU Foundation.
“The theme today was people helping people,” Mayor Baldwin said. “And when you look at these houses, the people who lived here were helping other people. They were helping people with mental health issues. They were helping people with addiction issues. Now, it continues.”
The project is expected to take about one year to complete.