After playing with Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs, I decided to become an architect. That is until my sophomore year in high school when I had to go to summer school to pass Geometry. They gave me a C to put me out of my misery; my long struggle with math was at an end. It was also the end of thinking I could become an architect. Now I write about architecture on Main Street and in my rear view mirror I see the Chicago Skyline. How lucky I was to be exposed to the extraordinary world of Chicago architecture while growing up.
We don’t know much about the architects of our commercial buildings downtown, but our buildings follow the evolution of commercial architecture. I write about saving our commercial and residential architecture, the sense of place they mirror, about the Rocky Mount story that is a key element in the revitalization of the community. I have encountered a problem, however. I thought it was self-evident how important the preservation, restoration and repurposing of Main Street is. I thought everyone would raise a voice to make this a priority, but instead ‘projects’ like a hotel and a parking garage and cluster low income housing deviate from the plan, bought and paid for, that focuses attention on Main Street. Our neighborhoods continue to get short shrift. Turns out there are people who ask, “Why should I care about these old buildings?” “What is in this for me?”
Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The mission of an architect is to help people understand how to make life more beautiful, the world a better one for living in, and to give reason, rhyme, and meaning to life.” The quote is why I will write further about architects because our old buildings downtown, restored and repurposed can make life more beautiful in Rocky Mount. I recommend a book called The Architects by Joseph J. Thorndike, Jr. featuring a chapter each on 15 of America’s famous architects. You won’t be disappointed. It’s not a big read but enough information on these architects to enjoy. In Part 2, I will write about two black architects. Perhaps they started building with Lincoln Logs. Hit the FOLLOW button to keep me company on Main Street Rocky Mount. Check out the new Facebook page by the same name.