I Choose the Possibilities in Life, the Beautiful and the Good

The title for this blog post comes from the latest podcast published today. I love creating the blog, Main Street Rocky Mount, and the podcast, Talking Main Street with Stepheny. These platforms allow me to talk about the preservation, restoration and repurposing of the commercial architecture downtown and the breadth of residential architecture throughout the Wards. The Facebook page with the same name as the blog is fun too. Each platform has its own opportunity to learn the language of Main Street. The theme, Honoring the Past, Building a Future, continues to guide the content of my efforts.

The #14th Episode of the podcast has now been published. The story-telling I weave through an episode comes from my reading life that began with the books of my childhood up to and including the last two books I’ve just read about James Baker during the Reagan, Bush years.

I have finished writing a 3rd novel that I can’t seem to release into the reading life of others just yet. Research, reading and the writing that follows brings me great joy. Along the way, it stills surprises me when someone tells me, “I read your blog.” There are times when I dare to hope that cheerleading for Main Street has reawakened an interest, even pride in the place we call home. We all have a part in the chorus, and my part includes stamping my foot from time to time, using my voice to encourage people to take a stand when it comes to the dodgy business that lines the pockets of those who work the system, and believing as I do, in the reimagining of Rocky Mount.

There are countless people in Rocky Mount that are the best kind of people anywhere. God-fearing, generous, talented, tireless, smart, and hopeful. Those brothers and sisters living in unacceptable housing, unsafe neighborhoods, are the focal point and the reason I write about Main Street. If you can take 5-minutes to listen to my point of view in this latest podcast, I hope you will agree about living peacefully side by side and the dignity of improved housing, pride in ownership, living the American dream.

Ward #1

Podcast Link: anchor.fm/stepheny-houghtlin

Join Me For A New 5 Minute Podcast -July 14, 2021

I am having fun with another social media opportunity to talk about Main Street Rocky Mount, NC. It’s called Podcasting! The basketball expression…let the game come to you…has proved to be true when it comes to the subject of each episode. Something is happening downtown or the latest book I’m reading jump starts my imagination.

I must say that two weeks in the mountains with a five year old great-grandchild drained my imagination battery. “Grammy, tell me a story.” This request comes with directions. “I want a story about a queen who has scraped her knee and is in the forest.” I introduced a new story line about fairies. We each added our ideas to the telling. Annaclaire has learned to whistle, so the stories had parts when she whistled in the background while I spoke. The stories must start with Once Upon a Time, but soon have a life of their own. The questions are important. “Grammy, do you believe in fairies? Are they real?”

When I tell stories about Main Street it is because I do believe in repurposing the commercial architecture in historic downtown. I am fascinated with the world of preservation. And yes, the results are real.

When it came to this week’s episode, I reread a book my mother read to me called, A Tree for Peter. I’m not sure what became of the original copy of the book but I will explain further during the podcast. Whether it is writing the blog, or creating a new podcast, my reading life has come into play more than I could have imagined. How grateful I am that my interior life is cluttered with books. These books are there when I need them. When I began creating the podcasts, I hoped that storytelling would add to the perspective I bring. A favorite book from childhood was the backdrop for Episode #13.

CLICK ON THIS LINK http://anchor.fm/stepheny-houghtlin

What You Will Find at the Top of the Stairs: Emerson Esthetics and Medspa

What you will find is a beautiful space on the second floor of a restored building owned by Witt and Robert Barnes at 200 Sunset Street facing Howard Street. Witt & Robert are both natives of Rocky Mount, NC. who have a stake in the revitalization of historic downtown.


Cortne Pope, born and raised in Rocky Mount, NC across from City Lake has opened a new business on the second floor of the Sorsby Building. This beautiful young woman graduated from Rocky Mount High School. She attended Howard University in Washington, DC and Shaw University in Raleigh earning a biology degree. She fell in love with nursing at Nash Community College and continues to work in that profession today. In 2020, she found the space and location she’d been looking for. Emerson Esthetics opened in May of 2021 in the Sorsby Place building.

“The International Spa Association defines a medical spa differently than a day spa. A medspa has a licensed medical professional on-site, able to provide services not readily available through conventional spa facilities. The majority of medspas take a more comprehensive approach to treatments while simultaneously offering the relaxation and wellness attributes found in a day spa setting.”

Emerson Esthetics provides advanced treatments such as I-V and immunity infusions. I’ve had a facial with Cortne who explained step by step as we went along. When I look in the mirror, the effects continue to reveal themselves with dry skin renewing itself. One facial doesn’t make you a beauty queen, but I do look ‘more better.’

Cortne said, “I could have opened my business elsewhere, but it was important to me to open the spa in Rocky Mount.” We have a building saved and repurposed, a new business created, with spectacular results, a team of wellness and beauty specialists are waiting at the top of the stairs to take care of you. You will make a lovely new friend as I have, Cortne Pope, who has planted her flag in historic downtown Rocky Mount.

I feel lucky to have experienced a moment in time that is the emerging downtown. Standing with Cortne, we looked out the impressive palladium window on to Howard Street. A man was working on his car. He looked up and waved. We waved back. Cortne motioned him to come over. What a blessing this turned out to be. It was Garland Jones, pastor of Mount Zion Christian Church on the corner of Sunset and Main, backing up to Howard Street. At least 45 minutes later we hugged goodbye. Filled with good Garland Jones stories and a few history lessons, I was having a Stepheny kind of day. I’m still smiling! It was a Spa day and the company of lovely and interesting new friends. My photos never do things justice, but iI will give you a look into the new wellness and beauty world of Emerson Esthetics. Way Cool!

Episode 11: Celebrating the 4th of July with Patrotic Hearts

I suggest celebrating this 4th of July, 2021, in a mindful way in the light of the war within the country over the mind and soul of America. Most of you know I started a weekly, 5-minute podcast, Talking Main Street with Stepheny. Though a few days early, Episode 11 is about Celebrating the 4th with a patriotic heart. I hope my point of view will cause you to do your own remembering of what the 4th symbolizes in your experience and the preserving of our nation.

Episode #14: Listening to Armand Gamache and the Choices We All Must Make Talking Main Street With Stepheny

Once again Stepheny's reading life influences her approach to the 5-minute podcast, Talking Main Street with Stepheny. She suggests an independent watch dog committee over the $1.4 million Hud grant coming Rocky Mount's way. She begins with a  conversation in a mystery novel about making choices. President Reagan makes an appearance as does Shelby Steele, Sr. Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute. Implicit in Stepheny's view is living together in peace and harmony and love with our brother's and sister's who deserve safe housing and safe neighborhoods. 
  1. Episode #14: Listening to Armand Gamache and the Choices We All Must Make
  2. Episode 13: If only Planting a Tree Were Enough
  3. Episode 12: The Bungalows of Rocky Mount – Another Architectural Asset That Needs Advocates
  4. Episode 11: Celebrating the 4th of July With Patriotic Hearts
  5. Episode 10 – $1.4 million – Grant Money From HUD

Save The Shotgun Houses of Rocky Mount With Hud Grant Money

These little gems are in Ward #4. I believe T.J. Walker, Councilman, has a heart for saving them. The more the Ward gets involved with their neighborhood housing, chances increase that others will join in the financial end of saving them. The possibilities of this significant housing has been ignored. The state of them proves this is so. Over the roofs of these small homes fly’s the banner of RESTORATION. Make saving the shotguns a priority in Wards 1-4 where the bulk of them are.

I’m all excited because $1.4 million in grant money is coming from Hud. These grants are used to build, purchase and/or rehabilitate affordable housing for rent or homeownership or providing direct rental assistance to low-income people.

What an opportunity to change the lives of people who have been living the reality of blighted and unsafe housing. I talk on todays new 5-minute podcast, Talking Main Street with Stepheny, about this grant money; the opportunity and my concerns. Hope you will listen in PODCAST Link:


PODCAST: anchor.fm/stepheny-houghtlin

Podcast Day: “Every Brick Wants to be Something.”

I hope you have started listening to the 5-minute podcast, Talking Main Street with Stepheny. The brick of Rocky Mount is near to my heart. I would like you to appreciate the beauty of brick in the commercial architecture of Main Street and beyond. I’m learning ‘more better’ with each episode. Put brick on your radar and enjoy the scene.

Living Above The Store – A Brick Wall in Play

HERE IS THE AUDIO FOR EPISODE 9 – “Every Brick Wants to be Something


Mark Your Calendar – Sale June 25-26

Head to the Salvage Store on Falls Road for a fun outing. How about taking in the Farmers Market while you are at it. Board Members worked hard cleaning up and organizing this past Saturday. Under Jean Bailey’s direction, Lea Henry, Whitney Shearin, Wanda Alford and Renny Taylor, all board members, spiffed things up. I took a before photograph of the sinks that are available. The shot to have gotten was after Lea decided she would clean them up!

This blog post salutes the volunteers in all the Rocky Mount organizations. For a love of the cause, volunteers put in amazing hours, doing all manner of things like our PRM President, Adrienne Copland who hauled a truck load of bagged ‘stuff’ to the dump. I’d say that is a “hands on” girl!

You have time to think about your restoration projects, your DIY needs. Bring your measurements with you for that door surround, mantle, door, and window you’re looking for. As I write this, I’m not sure if a food truck is still in play, but come have fun, shop, hang out with like-minded preservationists, get new ideas, be amazed over the inventory of the Salvage Store that is calling to you. See you soon! SFH

Podcast: Talking Baseball With Stepheny – Stith Talbert Park in Ward #1

http://anchor.fm/stepheny-houghtlin CLICK HERE FOR 5-MINUTE PODCAST

I have a grandson, William Robert, named for his two grandfathers, playing baseball up in Glenview, IL. He was foremost on my mind when I got ready to create Episode 7 for today’s podcast. I wanted to talk about Stith Talbert Park in Ward #1, which I saw for the first time last September in a drive-around adventure with Terrick Pittman and Sam Battle. The podcast mentions this experience.Terrick and Sam are busy making huge contributions in Rocky Mount.

I first met Terrick when he was running for City Councilman against Andre Knight in Ward #1. We had breakfast at Chew and Chat to get acquainted. When we hugged goodbye, I’d made a new friend that I’m still cheering on. With Terrick we have a young, articulate, bright leader who is important to the future of Rocky Mount. Sam Battle is a trip. He is a fierce, loyal friend, involved with black youth and many other aspects in the community. He knows everyone and unafraid, he speaks his piece at Council meetings and as he goes. I didn’t mention this in the podcast, but I learned a new expression from Sam. I can’t think of a more satisfying expression when you run across a ‘Raggedy Ass’ from time to time.

At age 10, William is the bomb in Grammy’s eyes. Playing the American Game, he and the boys of summer across America, are the future. I can’t think of a better place to learn life long skills.

Celebrating the Successful Restaurant-Barley and Burger

The restaurant, Barley and Burger, always puts their social media to good use. They posted this photograph on their Facebook Page a few days before Memorial Day Weekend. On the menu, it’s called a Burger Bowl, which never appealed because I hadn’t noticed I could choose chicken. My Thursday “date” varies with Denise Watkins, who you know from  Skyvue Skating, her family-owned business. It could be a late breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Lured by this photograph, I asked if Barley and Burger were possible. We arrived at 5:00 when the door opened.

Just now, they have some hard-working, pleasant teenagers on staff that make you proud. The young man who waited on us handled my request to serve the salad on a plate and the chicken breast cut up with a smile, and a ‘can do’ attitude, which I appreciated. The presentation on an attractive white plate was fabulous, and the salad DELICIOUS.

At 5:20, all but four tables were filled. At 6:40, every seat was taken, and people were at the door. I’d say Barley and Burger is a roaring success. All the food is excellent, the atmosphere friendly. For some, it is date night and grinning, young love. It is always family night, a working lunch, grandchildren with grandparents, and just plain friends like Denise and me. My grandson(in-law) brings my five-year-old great-granddaughter, Annaclaire, to Barley and Burger on their date nights. They have good sweet tea, which is important to me! The restaurant is located at 2921 Zebulon Road. The next time I’m there, I hope I see you.

Stepheny’s Salad Presenttion