8,000 and still growing

Postcard of Dorton Arena

You ask, “8,000 what? 8,000 square feet? Is Dorton Arena planning an expansion?”

No. We’re not aware of such.

“Is someone hoping to set a world record by cramming 8,000 people into the building once derided as the ‘Cow Palace’?”

Again, no. The fire marshal need not worry that anyone is trying to include more people than the 4,750 permanent seats and 360 box seats can accommodate.

Okay, no more guessing game. We’re talking about 8,000 postcards. This image of Dorton Arena marks the 8,000th card we’ve posted to our North Carolina Postcards online collection. Although we’ve just about finished putting up cards from the Durwood Barbour Collection, we’ve got plenty more to add from the holdings of the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive. Don’t yet see a postcard of your favorite Tar Heel person, place or thing? Keep checking back at NC Postcards.

As for Dorton Arena–the building’s parabolic design was envisioned by N.C. State design professor Matthew Nowicki, a native of Poland. Unfortunately Nowicki died in a plane crash before plans were complete and Raleigh architect William Henley Deitrick was hired to create architectural drawings for the project. The building opened in 1952. But not under the name by which we know it today. What was its original name?

A professor who battled Confederates and Nazis

“Born on October 21, 1869, at his parents’ home in the tiny hamlet of Clayton, North Carolina, [William] Dodd entered the bottom stratum of white Southern society….

“He fought his way upward, at times focusing so closely on his studies that other students dubbed him ‘Monk Dodd.’… He got his bachelor’s degree [from what would become Virginia Tech] in 1895 and his master’s in 1897….

“In 1902 [while an instructor at Randolph-Macon] Dodd published an article in The Nation in which he attacked a successful campaign by the Grand Camp of Confederate Veterans to have Virginia ban a history textbook [for failing to present] the South as ‘altogether right in seceding from the Union.’ ”

— From “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” by Erik Larson (2011)

Later, as a professor at the University of Chicago, Dodd desired mainly to complete a three-volume “History of the Old South.” In 1933, however, he accepted FDR’s unlikely appointment as ambassador to Germany, where his naivete soon gave way to alarm and to undiplomatic resistance to the incipient Third Reich.