Dunn, North Carolina

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Dunn, North Carolina
Downtown Dunn
Downtown Dunn
Motto: "Where community matters"
Location of Dunn, North Carolina
Location of Dunn, North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°18′37″N 78°36′39″W / 35.31028°N 78.61083°W / 35.31028; -78.61083Coordinates: 35°18′37″N 78°36′39″W / 35.31028°N 78.61083°W / 35.31028; -78.61083
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Harnett
 • Total 6.2 sq mi (16.1 km2)
 • Land 6.2 sq mi (16.1 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 207 ft (63 m)
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total 9,263
 • Estimate (2013)[2] 9,758
 • Density 1,482.2/sq mi (572.3/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 28334-28335
Area code(s) 910
FIPS code 37-18320[3]
GNIS feature ID 1020051[4]
Website City of Dunn

Dunn is a city in Harnett County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 9,263 at the 2010 census. It is the anchor city of the Dunn Micropolitan Area, population 114,678 (2010 census), which is a part of the greater Raleigh–Durham–Cary Combined Statistical Area (CSA) as defined by the United States Census Bureau.


Originally called Lucknow, what would become present day Dunn was a sleepy hamlet compared to Averasborough, a much larger city on the Cape Fear River. After the Battle of Averasborough in 1865, most residents from Averasborough left for Lucknow, renamed Dunn in 1873.

The city of Dunn was incorporated on February 12, 1887, at which time was a logging town and a turpentine distilling center. The name honors Bennett Dunn,[5] who supervised the construction of the railway line between Wilson and Fayetteville.

The Dunn Commercial Historic District, Harnett County Training School, Kenneth L. Howard House, Lebanon, Gen. William C. Lee House, John A. McKay House and Manufacturing Company, and John E. Wilson House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[6][7]


Dunn is located at 35°18′37″N 78°36′39″W / 35.31028°N 78.61083°W / 35.31028; -78.61083 (35.310360, -78.610836).[8]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.2 square miles (16 km2), all of it land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 419
1900 1,072 155.8%
1910 1,823 70.1%
1920 2,805 53.9%
1930 4,558 62.5%
1940 5,256 15.3%
1950 6,316 20.2%
1960 7,566 19.8%
1970 8,302 9.7%
1980 8,962 7.9%
1990 8,336 −7.0%
2000 9,196 10.3%
2010 9,263 0.7%
Est. 2014 9,710 [9] 4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]
2013 Estimate[2]

As of the census of 2000, there were 9,196 people, 3,797 households, and 2,422 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,482.2 people per square mile (572.7/km²). There were 4,100 housing units at an average density of 660.8 per square mile (255.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 54.56% White, 41.21% African American, 0.97% Native American, 0.60% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 1.28% from other races, and 1.32% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.24% of the population.

There were 3,797 households out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% were married couples living together, 19.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 18.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 79.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 74.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,550, and the median income for a family was $39,521. Males had a median income of $31,029 versus $21,961 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,178. About 19.6% of families and 23.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.2% of those under age 18 and 19.2% of those age 65 or over.


Dunn is home to three schools. Harnett Primary is for Preschool through 3rd grade; Wayne Avenue Elementary is for 4th through 5th grade; Dunn Middle School is for grades 6, 7, and 8. Dunn's students then attend Triton High School in nearby Erwin.

Notable people[edit]

Dunn is the birthplace of rock and roll musician Link Wray, and General William C. Lee, father of the American Army Airborne. Debbi Morgan (aka Dr. Angie Hubbard on All My Children), also has ties to Dunn. Clayton White former NFL Player for the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Bucs (2001-2003). Also he played his college football at NC State.

School paddling controversy[edit]

In December 1981, three students at Dunn High School were spanked with a wooden paddle by the assistant principal, Glenn Varney, as punishment for skipping school. School corporal punishment is legal in the state of North Carolina and was at the time permitted by the Harnett County school district (which in 2008 changed their policy to ban corporal punishment[11]). The paddling led the parents of one of the students, 17-year-old Shelly Gaspersohn, to file a $55,000 lawsuit against Varney and the school the following May (Gaspersohn v. Harnett County Board of Education), claiming that the punishment was too severe. When Shelley reached the age of 18 in October, she took over as direct plaintiff. In December 1983, following one week of testimony and 15 minutes of deliberation, the jury found for the defendants, and the plaintiff's subsequent appeal was ultimately rejected two years later by the Supreme Court of North Carolina. The trial was chronicled by psychologist Irwin Hyman, who was a witness for the plaintiff, in his 1990 book, Reading, Writing and the Hickory Stick.[12]

On October 17, 1984, Shelly Gaspersohn recounted her experience before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice, led by the subcommittee chairman, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. She stated that the county medical examiner who treated her for bruises and external hemorrhaging in the days after she was paddled filed a child abuse charge against Varney (a fact that was not allowed to be presented at trial), but that "there is no agency that can investigate a charge of child abuse against a public school teacher." Shelly's mother, Marlene Gaspersohn, also testified during the same session. When asked if she believed schools had the right to administer corporal punishment to students," Mrs. Gaspersohn replied, "I used to think that they had that right, but after experiencing the trauma that it can create, I have changed my mind completely about it."[13]

Shelly Gaspersohn also called for the abolition of school paddling in a guest column for USA Today, published October 23, 1984.[14]


  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-10-13. 
  2. ^ a b "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-10-16. 
  3. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ Bowden, Barry (Aug 28, 1986). "State Filled With Strange Town Names". The Dispatch. p. 25. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  7. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 8/18/14 through 8/23/14. National Park Service. 2014-08-29. 
  8. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  10. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved October 16, 2014. 
  11. ^ Paddle ban: Harnett County sees the light regarding corporal punishment in school, The Fayetteville Observer, September 15, 2008
  12. ^ Hyman, Irwin. Reading, Writing and the Hickory Stick: The Appalling Story of Physical and Psychological Abuse in American Schools (Lexington Books, 1990)
  14. ^ "Don't Inflict My Pain on Others," By Shelly S. Gaspersohn, Guest columnist, USA Today, October 23, 1984

External links[edit]