“The pleasure of restoring an historic home is reserved for those who see past the decaying structure and its weeds, overgrown brush, broken windows, and battered shutters. To see past the current state requires one to see the beauty of its bones and how it once was and could be again. It requires you to hear the sounds of cooking and smell the dinner on the table—to imagine who lived there and what they did—see the gardens as they were from the faint traces still left.”
My friend, Rodd Myers, left this quotation in 2020 on a Main Street Blog Post. Among his many talents, he is a fine writer as his quotation proves. Rodd’s quote is one of THE best to describe the heart of a preservationist. Whether you are considering investment or want to preserve and restore an old house for your new home, will you be able to see past the state of things? My purpose is to help you look at the ‘painting on the wall’ in a new way.
We know too well that boarded up, neglected housing slowly becomes an at-risk neighborhood. The Hill Street home pictured above is a perfect example of the once full of glory residential architecture in Rocky Mount. The vines and woody old shrubs are helping this wonderful home fade away.
Look below at these ‘paintings on the wall.’ Appreciate their born-again lives. This outcome is why I find the cry of gentrification in Rocky Mount nothing but an excuse for inaction. Amazing how a pallet of paint-appropriate colors make these structures shine. I firmly believe that we can restore Rocky Mount’s treasures and become recognized for our preservation efforts.
I leave you with these thoughts about the current state of our housing efforts. The exciting thing happening in Rocky Mount are the groups forming that step around those Councilmen that for twenty plus years have failed their constituents facing deteriorating housing. The reason: there was not enough real money to be made saving shotgun and bungalow homes in their wards. Instead ‘those who shall not be named’ stayed busy feathering their own nests.
We have housing, if saved, that puts people back in neighborhoods creating community once again……where there are extra grandmother-eyes looking out for the children as they come and go. Saving houses contributes to safe neighborhoods that become places residents can feel proud of. Issues linked to housing are positively effected. I hope you are becoming an advocate for the preservation of the residential and commercial architecture in and around Main Street. Join Preservation Rocky Mount.
This post is dedicated to Robb Myers, friend, a preservationist, community activist, political consultant, the past co-owner of a restored home with John Manns in historic West Haven. Thank you for your quote, for supporting Mainstreetrockymount.com and providing endless interesting conversation and stories. Rodd and John both reside in Florida now and continue their love of architecture, preservation, restoration and repurposing. Should I run for mayor, they promise to come back and run my campaign.
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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One thought on “Seeing Past the State of Things: Rocky Mount, NC Housing”
What a wonderful surprise to wake up to. Thank you for your kind words and a great post! Sending a big hug and a kiss.