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What is the Dudley Mansion?

Ryan Kerbow
StarNews
Dudley Mansion owner Ron Pickett home at 400 S. Front Street.        STAFF PHOTO BY Paul Stephen/Wilmington StarNews

Dudley Mansion owner Ron Pickett home at 400 S. Front Street. STAFF PHOTO BY Paul Stephen/Wilmington StarNews

Originally built in 1825 and expanded and renovated over the years, the Dudley Mansion was originally the home of Edward Bishop Dudley (1789-1855), a Wilmington businessman and politician. Dudley was the first popularly elected governor of North Carolina (previously, governors had been chosen by the legislature) and the first president of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad, a precursor to the Atlantic Coast Line.

Later residents included Pembroke Jones, the wealthy rice broker and railway investor whose social life supposedly inspired the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses.” James Sprunt, the wealthy cotton broker who also owned Orton Plantation, acquired the property in 1895, added the second floor to the wings and made substantial renovations.

For many years, the mansion was the Wilmington Elks lodge. Later it served as headquarters for the Historic Wilmington Foundation. Now in private hands, the mansion is not regularly open to the public. For a time, the owners used the house and grounds as a commercial wedding venue, but they agreed to cease advertising under a November 2010 agreement with the city of Wilmington. The mansion is at 400 S. Front St. in Wilmington.

 

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