Rocky Mount: Falling in Love With Impractical Architects

When husband, Bob, offered the gift of a Kindle, I turned my nose up preferring a book in my hand. Sound familiar? The year I said, “yes, please,” the Kindle turned out to be one of the best gifts ever. Not having to shelf the books on my Kindle is helpful.

Lately I’ve been reading things like…….Roosevelt and Churchill, Men of Secrets: by David Stafford

The Powers That Be: by David Halberstam,

Scorpions -The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices: by Noah Feldman

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. All are wonderful reads. At this point, however, I needed a Pat Conroy fix with his lyrical voice. I’m rereading Beach Music on my Kindle.

I misplaced a Conroy quote I wanted for a blog piece I was mulling over. I found the quote on the pages of Beach Music.

I grew up in a three-storied, many-roomed house that made me fall in love with impractical architects who conjured alcoves and oddly shaped rooms large enough to spread out…To my father, the house was a place to hang his hat and his clothes and store his collection of books, but my mother treated it as a prayer answered by a generous world. The rooms were spacious and high-ceilinged and there was an attic that smelled of mothballs and cedar…

Villa Place Historic District

Conroy’s descriptions of his surroundings from Italy to the marshes of South Carolina are delicious. He has this incredible gift for detail. Led by Conroy, as you walk the wet cobblestones past the mansions of Charleston, you can smell the fragrance in the air. If only, when I write about our architecture in the historic districts, I could describe them such that you would insist our housing gems are saved and restored to their former glory.

I want Rocky Mount to become a destination where people come to enjoy the preservation efforts of restored and repurposed residential and commercial areas. Like Conroy, you must think of the homes you passed on the way to school, those you visited, the kiss on the front porch, bicycles tipped over in the yards where you gathered to play. These things of great value need not be lost. Neighborhoods that are neglected and deteriorating can be saved when the residents come together and make plans. Find those who have a trade in the construction business, recruit some young people who can be taught skills to save the shotgun housing and the amazing bungalows.

I went to the Happy Hill residents meeting and these wonderful people are capable of anything they put their minds to. Rocky Mount is filled with great architecture. I selected these two houses because they reflect Conroy’s quotation above. But the shotgun and bungalow housing is essential for our housing needs. A sense of place is Conroy’s fortay and Rocky Mount’s restored residential and commercial architecture should be our signature.

Rose Street newly painted

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