Caring About Old Buildings on Main Street: Mission Impossible – Or Is It?- Part 3

The mission was always found in a phone booth, a vending machine, a parked car or other mundane locations. The tape recording that detailed “your mission, should you choose to accept it,” ended with the chilling warning that in the event of capture, all knowledge would be disavowed. With a puff of smoke, the tape self-destructed in 5 seconds. I, as your ‘Secretary’ on Main Street, however, will never disavow you under any circumstances should you choose to care about a bunch of old buildings.

(After I  visited Virginia’s Dress Shop to buy some beautiful things on SALE!- You really need to go visit Ginny), I took photos from the car and then walked the block to check some addresses. A fantastic thing happened. I met Rocky Mount native,  Zack Poll with three of his Rocky Mount friends, who were all delightful. They were standing in front of Zack’s South Main building that is under-going renovation. Such fun! When it is all said and done, Zack will live on the second floor above a large space that will serve as community space for theater, music, other needs. Zack is EXACTLY what I’m talking about. EXACTLY!

This pleasant, energetic, ‘love him right away-guy,’ has a dream, that actually keeps him awake rather than counting sheep, counting possibilities on Main Street. Young, energetic, working on saving, preserving and repurposing a building himself, he believes!  Add Zack to our list of angels unaware; part of the new reality on Main Street. In making a new friend, I laughed out loud as I drove away….I have often walked on this street before, but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before. There weren’t a cast of thousands on the street, but those that were there greeted me with Happy New Year. A mother and daughter powering walking, several trains to wave at. I care about a bunch of old buildings. This mission is possible. Care about a bunch of old buildings too. Block by block.

Let’s start with the mustard building on the corner of the 200 south Main. Brides have pictures taken in front of the curved arches. The exterior of the building must be saved. Lordy, Lordy, when you pull the metal shuttered fronts back to look inside. The roof is laying on the floor.

206 South Main
220 S.Main
224 S. Main
Jewel Box Entrance Tile
For Sale: Chamblis & Rabil
232 S. Main
234 S. Mail
Owner: Zack Poll
Under Restoration
Viverette Furniture
For Sale


3 thoughts on “Caring About Old Buildings on Main Street: Mission Impossible – Or Is It?- Part 3

  1. The photos from your post made me think of the following quote.

    “I thought: ‘That’s depressing!’” says Talen, a professor of urbanism at the University of Chicago. “What happens on main street is such an integral part of activating the neighborhood. Now we’ve lost that. My fear is that it’s been this long, slow decline, so that it becomes almost taken for granted, and increasingly you shrug your shoulders and say, well, that’s the way it is.”
    –Emily Talen; taken from, Quantifying the death of the classic American main street by Eric Jaffe–

    Vibrant neighborhoods and small businesses create jobs and income so people can earn their way. It is called hard work and requires putting in the hours necessary to reach goals. A shuttered Main Street doesn’t support growth and economic independence. Nor does a hotel that is not needed.

    As my grandmother LaVerta always said “Roddy, hard work and struggle is a motivator but laziness and lack of initiative is a pure waste of what God gave us all–the possibility of greatness–it just depends on what we do with our potential.”

    Are the City Council and City Manager living up to their possibility of greatness?

    Is Rocky Mount living up to its possibility of greatness?

    And, what about the collective potential?

    I think Stepheny is right—there is a lot of potential both in people and buildings in Rocky Mount.
    Great change and unlimited potential lie in the preservation of Main Street!

    Cheers Stepheny!



  2. Where is the center of Rocky Mount? Or, better yet, where should the center of Rocky Mount be? Tarrytown? No, it is no longer viable. Golden East? No, it is too far from most neighborhoods. The answer is, Downtown. I lived in Rocky Mount for sixteen years, 1960-1976. It was vibrant, even after Tarrytown was built. But, like many towns and cities, Raleigh, Durham, Greenville, Kinston, etc, businesses left. Now, many cities and town have realized the value and beauty of the inner city. Check out downtown Raleigh, Durham, Greenville, etc. There is no reason why Racky Mount can’t be as good or better.


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