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"Businessman. Benefactor of NCSU, UNC-G, and Peace College. Gifts included land for Pullen Park. Birthplace here." Richard Stanhope Pullen was known as an astute capitalist who conducted business on his own terms. Pullen also was widely known for the generous gifts he gave to North Carolina. Writing in 1907, Marshall DeLancey Haywood commended Pullen for his philanthropy, noting that a granite obelisk marked Pullen’s burial place but “greater monuments—‘more lasting than brass’—are the works he left behind.”
Pullen was born in the Wake County community of Neuse in 1822. In 1852 he moved to Raleigh to oversee the finances of his widowed aunt Penelope Smith, soon involving himself in a mercantile business with his brother James and Caswell Belvin. His management of Smith’s capital allowed it to remain intact through the Civil War and Reconstruction. At her death, Smith made Pullen her main heir by virtue of which he received a sizable amount of money. He invested it along with his own funds, in time becoming wealthy mainly from real estate.
Pullen’s gifts were especially generous to the citizens of Raleigh. In 1872, the then-closed Peace Institute was mortgaged to Pullen. According to the News and Observer, Pullen acquired Peace “in order to preserve it as a seminary for the education of young women.” He organized a new charter and offered most of the stock to the Presbyterians. As a member of Edenton Street Methodist Church, Pullen was the largest donor of money that paid for a new church structure.
In 1887 Pullen donated eighty acres to Raleigh for a park, named Pullen Park in his honor. In that same year, Pullen made a gift of land next to the park for the North Carolina College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts (now North Carolina State University). R. T. Gray and Pullen donated the original ten acres for the Normal and Industrial School in Greensboro (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro).
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 155-156—sketch by Jerry L. Cross
Hope Summerell Chamberlain, History of Wake County, North Carolina (1922)
Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, VI, 411-415
(Raleigh) News and Observer, June 25, 1895; June 6, 1907; and June 3, 1938
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.