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Dunn, North Carolina

Coordinates: 35°18′41″N 78°36′46″W / 35.31139°N 78.61278°W / 35.31139; -78.61278
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Dunn, North Carolina
Downtown Dunn
Downtown Dunn
Official seal of Dunn, North Carolina
"Where community matters"
Location of Dunn, North Carolina
Location of Dunn, North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°18′41″N 78°36′46″W / 35.31139°N 78.61278°W / 35.31139; -78.61278
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
 • MayorWilliam P. Elmore, Jr.
 • Total6.99 sq mi (18.10 km2)
 • Land6.98 sq mi (18.08 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
Elevation207 ft (63 m)
 • Total8,446
 • Density1,209.86/sq mi (467.14/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area codes910, 472
FIPS code37-18320[3]
GNIS feature ID2403518[2]

Dunn is the most populous city of Harnett County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 9,263 at the 2010 census.[4] It is, along with Harnett County, part of the Anderson Creek, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Raleigh-Durham-Cary, NC Combined Statistical Area.[5]



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 it was a logging town and a turpentine distilling center. The name honors Bennett Dunn,[6] 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.[7][8]

The city's former mayor, Oscar Harris, died when walking around the city. He was 80.[9]



Dunn is located in eastern Harnett County. It is bordered to the west by the town of Erwin. U.S. Route 301 (Clinton Avenue) passes through the center of Dunn, leading northeast 6 miles (10 km) to Benson and southwest 25 miles (40 km) to Fayetteville. U.S. Route 421 (Cumberland Street) crosses US-301 in the center of Dunn, leading northwest through Erwin 15 miles (24 km) to Lillington, the county seat, and southeast 28 miles (45 km) to Clinton. Interstate 95 passes through the eastern side of Dunn, with access from Exits 72 and 73. I-95 leads northeast 50 miles (80 km) to the Wilson area and southwest to the Fayetteville area.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city of Dunn has a total area of 6.5 square miles (16.8 km2), all land.[4]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[10]
2013 Estimate[11]

2020 census

Dunn racial composition[12]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 3,882 45.96%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 3,319 39.3%
Native American 76 0.9%
Asian 57 0.67%
Pacific Islander 2 0.02%
Other/Mixed 326 3.86%
Hispanic or Latino 784 9.28%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 8,446 people, 4,031 households, and 2,284 families residing in the city.

2000 census


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 (572.3 people/km2). There were 4,100 housing units at an average density of 660.8 per square mile (255.1/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 four schools. Dunn Elementary is for preschool through third grade; Wayne Avenue Elementary serves fourth and fifth grade students; Dunn Middle School is for grades six through eight. Dunn's students then attend Triton High School in nearby Erwin.

Dunn is also home to private religious schools, including Dream Big Christian Academy, Calvary Christian Academy, Heritage Bible College, and Foundations Bible College and Theological Seminary.

School paddling controversy


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.[13] 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.[14]

On October 17, 1984, Shelly Gaspersohn recounted her experience before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice, led by the subcommittee chairman, 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."[15]

Shelly Gaspersohn also called for the abolition of school paddling in a guest column for USA Today, published October 23, 1984.[16]

In 2008 Harnett County changed its policy to ban corporal punishment in schools.[13]

Notable people



  1. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Dunn, North Carolina
  3. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001): Dunn city, North Carolina". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  5. ^ "OMB Bulletin No. 23-01: Revised Delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas, and Guidance on Uses of the Delineations of These Areas" (PDF). United States Office of Management and Budget. July 21, 2023. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  6. ^ Bowden, Barry (August 28, 1986). "State Filled With Strange Town Names". The Dispatch. p. 25. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  7. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  8. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 8/18/14 through 8/23/14. National Park Service. August 29, 2014.
  9. ^ "Former Dunn Mayor Oscar Harris dies". ABC11 Raleigh-Durham. January 29, 2020. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  10. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  11. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 22, 2014. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  12. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  13. ^ a b Paddle ban: Harnett County sees the light regarding corporal punishment in school, The Fayetteville Observer, September 15, 2008
  14. ^ Hyman, Irwin. Reading, Writing and the Hickory Stick: The Appalling Story of Physical and Psychological Abuse in American Schools (Lexington Books, 1990)
  16. ^ "Don't Inflict My Pain on Others," By Shelly S. Gaspersohn, Guest columnist, USA Today, October 23, 1984