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Recently I visited friends at Carolina Meadows in Chapel Hill. I noticed an elderly lady concentrating on a puzzle that residents can work on if so moved. The image of this solitary woman has stayed with me. I know it’s because I think of the revitalization of Rocky Mount like a puzzle worked by individual people, groups, and organizations who are placing one piece at a time.
Carrying this puzzle idea with us in the weeks to come, I want you to concentrate on the Villa Place Historic District Neighborhood Pieces, a source of pride and a neighborhood that is vital to the future of Rocky Mount. It is the first of the 7 historic districts Preservation Rocky Mount plans to focus their attention upon believing that the preservation of our neighborhoods is of historical, economic and social significance for a successful future.
If you are of a certain age, you were allowed to run free in the neighborhood where you grew up. You rode your bicycle everywhere and nobody worried. When the fireflies began to light up in the shrubbery, or the street lights came on, it was time to head home. All these years later if we close our eyes, we can transport ourselves back to the neighborhood we call home where memories still abide of our parents, the children we once were, the ‘kids on the block’ jumping rope or playing hop scotch on the sidewalk, playing baseball in the park.
Villa Place was such a place on the west side of the business district of Rocky Mount. Now a designated Historic District, it spans approximately 35 acres and is composed of all or part of 23 blockfaces. 171 structures contribute to the historical significance of the District. Though Machaven sits vacant, this Neoclassical Revival residence at 306 S. Grace still presides in a stately fashion over the neighborhood but is by no means the end-all of the story. The ladies reading this will understand the image of a lovely necklace with Machaven as the center and largest bead, but the rest of the beads that are different in size and color, are what make the piece.
In future posts throughout the summer, we’ll get ready for the tour with some architectural information that makes up this beautiful necklace, give you some behind the scenes tour goings on, and hopefully, peek your interest as we make our way towards October. (Just so you know, if I win the lottery, the house on the corner of Villa and Nash is mine.) It’s a gem longing for a new life and purpose, a family to shelter, perhaps a bread and breakfast offering hospitality. Sherry & Jack Dunn, sitting on their porch right across the street, are members of the Advisory Team that will help Preservation Rocky Mount plan this tour and make sure it’s a great experience. You’re going to love these neighbors, envy their quiet streets and beautiful homes. Let me know if you would like to help PRM with the planning and successful outcome of honoring the past of Villa Place while building a future here in Rocky Mount. We would welcome your local knowledge of this wonderful neighborhood. It’s going to be great fun!