There must be a special place in hell for people who vandalize buildings. In taking photographs of Machaven, I wouldn’t dream of a photo that shows the front windows boarded up. Such an embarrassment for a historic place that has been holding court at 300 Grace Street these many years. Like a woman who knows her best side, the tilt of her chin just so, we will consider this princely place from a different angle to avoid further humiliation.
Introducing J.W. Hines (1858-1928): Hines made his fortune as the “ice king” of North Carolina, owning ice plants in railroad towns across the state from Rocky Mount to Salisbury. He became a developer and industrialist and is credited with his involvement in Rocky Mount’s early twentieth-century growth. Hines built tobacco warehouses, helped bring the Atlantic Coast Line repair shops and Emerson Shops to south Rocky Mount in 1892. In 1905 J.W. Hines purchased the 300 block of South Grace Street from R.L. Huffines and in 1907-1908 constructed the impressive Neoclassical Revival style brick mansion, known as Machaven, for his family. I hope you will take the time to read an earlier post about Machaven. Click Here
Though Machaven is the principal landmark in the Villa Place Historic District, it is but one architectural gem in this depository worth a king’s ransom to architectural historians, preservationists, and to the city of Rocky Mount because of its close proximity to the revitalization of downtown where housing is needed for a growing workforce. If you read much of this blog, you know I am always excited and jumping up and down about something. Take my hand as we walk the neighborhood while I point out, “Look at this one!” “And this one!” These Queen Anne, Foursquare, Craftsman, Colonial Revival style houses were built between 1900 and the 1940s by employees of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and other businesses in an emerging, successful railroad and tobacco town. You probably know someone who grew up right here on this corner!
If we threw a dart at a Rocky Mount map, no neighborhood is more worthy of a concerted effort to adopt and rally behind, than Villa Place. Our churches participate in community outreach in all kinds of faraway places like Minnesota and Mexico. Why not in our own backyard in a place that is significant to our future? Between now and when you read Villa Place – Part 3 – I hope you will find time to get in your car with new eyes to see how fabulous this area is. I invite you to FOLLOW Main Street so you don’t miss future posts.