Rocky Mount Mill Worker Reunion – A Glorious Day

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“..what the next generation will value most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we lived. In the end, it’s the family stories that are worth the storage.”  ― Ellen Goodman

The waterlogged app on my I-phone (used on the photo above) reflects the emotional blur through which I viewed things on Saturday afternoon at the event created for a gathering of special people. Connected to the Mill, they came to tell their stories, enjoy the music, and have a tour. The progress that has been made in the large spaces is amazing. The clean up and restoration of  the ceiling and support beams are nothing short of  beautiful.  img_4529John Mebane, in his usual great form, led the group through the Mill providing a running historical commentary about what we were seeing. This was a privilege not usually available and one to cherish.  I dare you to tell me you wouldn’t have been teary too when Evan Chavez, Development Manager, Capitol Broadcasting Company, added some magic by showing off the timberous bell in the tower that has now been automated, no longer needing a rope pull. The bell will be used to remember the shift changes of yesteryear. Listening to the bell ring on a perfect October day was a moment to remember.

img_4517I don’t know anyone who hasn’t asked themselves at some point in  life, what will be remembered of me? There was one gentleman who helped lead the tour who has spent his career insuring that he will be remembered for the incredible preservation work he does. “Eddie” Belk by name. Belk Architecture has been the key firm in the adaptive reuse of the majority of Durham’s early 20th industrial architecture. It is he, who over the last twenty years, has reimagined the adaptive reuse of the Mill. Listening to Mr. Belk describe the plans for the spaces, which include the preservation of the historical details of the buildings, is watching a creative force in action.

The importance of this place, and collecting the oral histories of those forever linked to the Mill, are a powerful, moving and, yes, an emotional experience that Capital Broadcasting has made possible. We owe everybody involved an Episcopal bow of reverence….lean from the waist, folks, while saying THANK YOU.

Be sure and visit this link for the Communities History Program to see the digital photographs already gathered about the Mill. Help identify the pictures and leave your contact information to tell your story.

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About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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