Preservation – Rocky Mount’s Historic Downtown Area Part 1 -May and Gorham Building

Be sure to look up
SFH Photograph – May Gorham Building

 “We want cities to understand that historic buildings are a resource…. figure out how to restore and reuse them and keep them in active service for their community.”

National Trust president – Stephanie K. Meeks

        Preservation Rocky Mount Organization Visits the May Gorham Building

Steve Bullock Photograph
A Steve Bullock Photograph
Steve Bullock Photograph
A Steve Bullock Photograph

A new generation is embracing the diversity, historic character, and less car-centric lifestyle that a city provides. By turning old buildings into new places to live, preservation encourages healthier, more sustainable lifestyles, where people can walk or bike to stores, restaurants, and work. Using existing structures to house new businesses helps create jobs and spurs economic growth. The Revitalization taking place in our community embraces these concepts.

Stepping through the door of May & Gorham Drug Store, I gasped, followed by a “Wow!” It was my first time to view the interior of the building that D. J. Rose constructed; a two-story brick commercial building for Reading D. Bullock and John D. Bullock in 1904 and enlarged in 1906 in the same style. The building was originally known as “Five Points Drug Store” due to its location at the intersection of Tarboro, Washington, and Rose Streets. Architects, doctors, dentists, and other professionals rented second-floor office space in the Bullock Building. With its intact interior it is one of eastern North Carolina’s best examples of a turn-of-the-century drugstore. These are the facts of the matter, but listening to people as they talked about their memories when they visited the store, sitting at the soda fountain, this is the magic of the place.

                              Join me next time for Preservation Part 2 – The People’s Bank

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10 thoughts on “Preservation – Rocky Mount’s Historic Downtown Area Part 1 -May and Gorham Building

  1. So happy to see the possibility of downtown Rocky Mount buildings being repurposed instead of being torn down. Downtown could become a quaint and beautiful area with thriving little businesses like some of downtown Asheville. Need to rally the community around this concept. Vision is powerful!!!


  2. (from the 1923 Hi-Noc-Ar)
    The High School Annex was founded through the generosity and foresight of Mr. Dick Gorham. The latter early saw the need of a larger school, and determined to meet this need in his own generous-hearted manner. With characteristic modesty he did not give the institution the name of an annex, but affixed a nom-de-plume, “The Five Points Drug Company.” He thus escaped the publicity that would have offended his retiring nature, and at the same time rendered the school system of the city a great service.

    In that institution today the youth of the city come and go at will. The school board has offered to pay for the place, but Mr. Gorham prefers the high school to consider it as a gift. He hires the officials at his own expense, and refreshments are served at all hours of the day. He provides a large library, which is kept in stock with volumes of the most up-to-date literature. In this movement he was way ahead of the town itself, and long before the Public Library was established had provided the high school students. There are reading tables with chairs, the building is steam heated, and all kinds of school supplies can be secured. Entertainment is never lacking, for he hires two young men, schooled in the ways of the world, whose stories are always rich in wit and originality, and who never fail to extract amusement from the most droll and commonplace incident.

    The students interested in athletics have reserved a section for their convenience, and there is not a game on the football or basketball schedule that is not played over the cigar counter of the Annex. There is a debating society, with the most able speakers of the school on its roll. Every great political question is discussed, debated, and fought over with an exactness that leaves no room for criticism. Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg was nothing in comparison with some of the orations that have been delivered at the Five Points soda fountain.

    As a sign of the success and increased prosperity of the institution, it has only recently been remodeled and improved upon. This assures us that he future generations of old R.M.H.S. will be able to enjoy the benefits of the Annex, and that the good work is to continue. It is our only hope that they will enjoy as many happy hours and tell as many lies as we have in the old Annex.


  3. I enjoy your columns very much. I wish someone would buy my grandfathers house & restore it.That would be the Z.B. Bulluck house on Sunset Ave. It is a beautiful house but looks like it is in much need of repair.


    1. Thank you Anne for leaving this comment. I’m a member at St. Andrews right next door to your grandfather’s house. I am always dreaming about it’s future. One dream is winning the lottery, buying the house, and turning it into a retreat center where people could come for quiet days, 3 day lead retreats etc. I led a women’s retreat in the stone house, such a wonderful place that has been restored and perfect for events. Another dream for the house is a Women’s Club, a place for Christmas tea where it wouldn’t be Christmas if you didn’t come to the Bullock house.The property is perfect to create a garden open to the public, a place where artists could come to paint….I could go on. I hope you will tell me about your grandfather. I have been waiting to write about the house and Z.B. Bullock. Now I know why.


  4. Love your columns… May and Gorham was the go-to place after school at nearby RM Wilson Junior High. Please give significant credit to Kip Meadows (Nottingham Company),
    who purchased the building in great disrepair and brilliantly restored it to the showplace it is today.


  5. I look forward to your story on PEOPLES (no ‘) Bank and hopefully PLANTERS Bank in the future. We had great banking leaders in our little town.


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