First There Was a Plantation
Dunleath, the nineteenth-century plantation on which much of the Dunleath neighborhood has been recently named, was built in 1857-1858 by Judge Robert Paine Dick (1823-1898). The Dick family was an established Scotch-Irish family with roots in the nearby Buffalo Presbyterian and First Presbyterian churches.
Dick was a native of Greensboro where he attended the Caldwell Institute and graduated from The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He studied law under the direction of his father and Jamestown Quaker George C. Mendenhall before opening his own practice in Wentworth, the county seat of Rockingham County.
In 1848 he married Mary Eloise Adams of Pittsylvania County, VA and the couple started a family that would include five children. He enjoyed his most productive years after marriage, including service as the U.S. district attorney from 1853 until 1861, a Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court from 1868 until 1872, and as a federal district judge from 1872 until 1898.
Dunleath was a structure unlike any other in North Carolina. Though described as a Swiss Chalet, in some ways reminiscent of Philadelphia architect John Notman’s Design IX for “A Cottage in the Italian, or Tuscan Style” published in Cottage Residences in 1842. The three-story façade of Dunleath faced west overlooking Fisher Park and Church Street with a tripartite composition of forward-facing gables united by an intricate cast-iron verandah and embellished with bay windows, rounded arches, and a bracketed cornice. Dunleath was bulldozed for an apartment development in December 1968, though the planned development was never built.
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