“A place without meaning is no place to be.”
Wayne Gerard Trotman
I experienced a glorious early spring day on March 9, 2017, while driving through the Historic District of West Haven. I knew the weather was a gift to relish because it would not last. Entering into a quiet world, free of traffic, it allowed me to take photographs while standing in the road, yet I was only a mile west of downtown. I was accompanied by bird song celebrating the day. LISTEN. The photo on the right is Wildwood Park that sits along Waverly and Rivera Drive where I stood to breathe in the warm sun and birdsong, definitely a Lenten blessing.
What one appreciates immediately about West Haven is its curvilinear streets, the first planned neighborhood in Rocky Mount to deviate from the usual grid system found in the other Historic Districts. Like the beads on a rosary, we touch each esteemed name associated with the creation of this idyllic twenty-five block area that reminds us how important beauty is to our lives. We remember John Wells, the local civic engineer who was the developer and realtor for the 211 acres of wooded property. (1928) The architects Thomas Herman of Wilson and Harry Harles of Rocky Mount and….drum roll please….local contractors D.J. Rose and Samuel Toler, who built homes in West Haven.
Come, educate your eye! Let’s look at two Colonial Revival style homes that will help you recognize this style when you see it. Many of you are fortunate to know the stories and the people that call these lovely places home. I had to use my imagination. When writing about the homes pictured in this post, I thought of the 1950’s and the clothes that were worn, the music listened to, and the cars people drove. One doesn’t need the personal details of these homes to fall in love with these architectural treasures in yet another historic district of Rocky Mount. Whether it is a shotgun house, a bungalow, or a Colonial Revival, our cup runneth over with architectural gems.
On the right is an example of a typical Colonial Revival style home found in West Haven. This is the 1951 Robert Walker House at 515 Piedmont Avenue. This two-story, brick house has a symmetrical three-bay facade with a recessed entrance with sidelights and side panels and a segmental arched wood transom over the door. Note the house is balanced by exterior end chimneys on the side elevations along with one-story wings on each end.
Here is a frame version of the Colonial Revival Style, the 1950 Edgar Joyner House at 322 Piedmont Avenue. A two-story, side gable house with beaded weatherboard siding with typical Revival style details that include dentils at the cornice, a symmetrical three-bay facade, and a pedimented portico supported classical columns. A one-story addition includes a side sun porch.
TOMORROW: Seeing the Beauty of West Haven through its Architecture – Part 2