Caring About Old Buildings on Main Street – Part 1

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.

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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4 Responses to Caring About Old Buildings on Main Street – Part 1

  1. Maggie Barkley says:

    It will be a supreme challenge to change the mindset of people who think they already know what is best for Rocky Mount’s old architecture. I’m think your ideas are marvelous.

    Like

  2. Anonymous says:

    It would break your heart to understand the Atmospheric architecture of the now torn down Center Theater. The inside of the theater was marvelous and quite rare. Yet along the way , someone made the decision to get rid of it. I enjoy your posts.

    Like

  3. Dave Iery says:

    My best subject in school was math. I took every course available in High School, but my school only offered Algebra, Geometry, and trigonometry. I loved it so much I researched fascinating math concepts ie the Fibonacci Sequence which explained how flowers and even the hair on your head grow. And the Moebius Loop which explained a surface with only one side. It explained how you could change a left handed glove to a right handed glove by traveling on the Moebius loop. The ironic part of my high school math was when I took my entrance exam to study Engineering for College I did not pass the math exam and had to attend an extra year in College. Most of the math problems required calculus or differential equations which I never took. I did graduate with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Your Post brought back great memories of by love for math!
    Thank You

    Like

  4. Rodd says:

    “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”
    Winston Churchill

    It seems Rocky Mount elected officials, council members and certain city employees are out of shape!

    Like

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