Dail House patriarch portrait donated

Unveiling a portrait of the man who built the Dail house, home of ECU chancellors since 1965, left to right, Alex B. Dail, Nancy Dail Hall, Anne Dail Ashe and Chancellor Steve Ballard. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Unveiling a portrait of the man who built the Dail house, home of ECU chancellors since 1965, are left to right, Alex B. Dail, Nancy Dail Hall, Anne Dail Ashe and Chancellor Steve Ballard. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

By Steve Tuttle
ECU News Services

Three grandchildren of the man who built Dail House, the official residence of East Carolina chancellors for the past 65 years, have donated a portrait of him that now hangs in the Fifth Street home.

Chancellor Steve Ballard and Nancy Ballard greeted Alex B. Dail, Anne Dail Ashe and Nancy Dail Hall for the Feb. 28 unveiling.

The portrait of the late William Haywood Dail Jr. was created in 1923 when he was 45. For many years Dail owned Greenville’s only brick making company. Four of East Carolina’s original buildings were mostly constructed with Dail bricks, as was Dail House.

The university acquired the 5,100-square-foot Italianate home in 1949. John Messick was the first chancellor to live there.

The grandchildren, who all live in Virginia, return to Greenville every December to lay wreaths at the family plot in Cherry Hill Cemetery. Before their most recent visit, Nancy Ballard invited them to the residence for a tour.

In a letter accompanying their gift of the portrait, the Dail grandchildren said, “We cannot think of a better place for this portrait to hang.”

Haywood Dail Jr. was an avid supporter of a local bond referendum to attract the fledgling East Carolina Teacher Training School to Greenville. By his own admission given during the college’s 50th anniversary, he chewed up and swallowed some “no” paper ballots during the vote counting.

He died in 1959 at the age of 81.

Nancy Ballard, wife of ECU chancellor Steve Ballards, straightens the newly hanged portrait of William Haywood Dail Jr.

Nancy Ballard, wife of ECU chancellor Steve Ballard, straightens the donated portrait of William Haywood Dail Jr. during a ceremony Feb. 28.