Stepheny’s Reflection on Unlived Lives and Rocky Mount Preservation

LUCCA, ITALY, Historic urban street scene, Tuscany, Italy

We all have these unlived lives, a place we wanted to live like Lucca in Italy, for me. I would have liked to run a bookstore with a cat sleeping in a chair with other soft seating where a customer could sit leafing through a coffee table book under consideration.

I wanted to be an architect but never could have coped with the math involved in the drawings. I wanted to major in journalism but my University of Kentucky freshman advisor was head of the sociology department and took me off on a wild goose chase until I found the English department filled with books and writing. Sizing up these unlived lives, I realize that I am a reporter and that my passion for architecture is the theme of the blog you are reading.

Honoring the past, building a future, is the underlying theme of writing about the preservation, restoration and repurposing of residential and commercial architecture. Rocky Mount, NC is a long way from Italy, but there are Italian Restaurants in town that I frequent.

There was no map that lead me to Nashville/Rocky Mount but without question, the Lord had his way, and here I am. I’m sure you’ve questioned, is this really how I want to spend these dwindling days? With a low voter turn out in the last local elections, I was devastated. If the people living in the Wards barely show up, why am I caring to care? The prevailing attitude seems to be that nothing is going to change. It has always been this way, so why bother? It took me some time, but I got to the other side of questioning, is it worth it? Maybe this is why the character in the Disney movie, Muanawa amuses me when she says, “I’m the village crazy lady, that’s my job.

I know I romanticize Main Street architecture, the historic neighborhoods and the surrounding streets, filled with architectural gems. But it is true, that’s what they are or could be once again if saved and restored. The Duchess of Howell street took me through another fabulous bungalow she is restoring on Howell Street. I would move in tomorrow. She has done a restoration on this home that will be for sale upon completion. Beautiful original floors, and the usual features of this architectural style. It is too late in the game for me to go on an archeological dig, my gardening dreams are curtailed since I don’t carry 50 pound bags of mulch, any more. I have honed a few compensatory skills by dragging the bags on a tarp. I’d like to go for a year to SCAD -Savannah College of Art & Design to enroll in their preservation program but my discretionary fund has no line item for that.

Revive and restore historic structures with the world leader in preservation education

Across the globe, preservation designers spearhead the adaptive reuse of historically significant buildings, repurposing them to meet contemporary and future needs while honoring their past to create a richer local fabric. As a preservation design student at SCAD, you will develop the skills and strategies to lead the transformation of these burgeoning communities via a studio-based and digital-focused curriculum that draws directly from the university’s international recognition as a model for preservation and design.

I’ll have to do what I can here in Rocky Mount to continue to sweet talk you into getting involved with the organization, Preservation Rocky Mount, $20.00 membership. I leave you with these photos of the Howell Street property. This restoration makes me care to care even in its unfinished condition. I hope you care too!

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