Stepheny Attends a Free Choral Concert -Saturday AM – May 11th – Edgemont Historic District

800 Tarboro Street
Built by D.J. Rose

Preservation Rocky Mount had a walking tour this morning in the Edgemont Historic District and I had a fantasy come true. I stayed behind in a comfortable wicker chair on the front porch of the D.J. Rose house belonging to Jean Bailey at 800 Tarboro St. I’ve written about this special home several times. It was all mine for an hour!

Wrap around sound: a chorus of vocal birds sang with abandonment. Several solo parts were cooed by morning doves. There was a problem without a conductor to keep time and cue the various parts when it was their turn. You know how an orchestra sounds when warming up before a performance; all the instruments playing their own notes? The bird concert went mad with sound but without sheet music. Still, it was glorious. I even managed to fall asleep missing some of the performance. I must speak to someone next time to prevent the whoosh of tires on pavement that dashed across the Tarboro Street stage.

The walking tour returned, full of a new appreciation for this special location, and with knowledge about roof lines and architectural styles. Lovely people with an appreciation for the story of the neighborhood, its people, it’s future. I didn’t say anything about the free choral concert they missed or reveling on the beautiful front porch with a short nap. Instead, I gathered the experience to take with me to revisit in my mind when needed. There is a matching wicker chair and if you promise not to talk, I’ll invite you to join me should there be another occasion.

These Gorgeous Photographs by Carl Lewis

The Magnificent Piece of Property and Home in the Edgemont Historic District is a Source of Pride for a Reemerging Neighborhood – 800 Tarboro Street

Who can ever affirm, or deny that the houses which have sheltered us as children, or as adults, and our predecessors too, do not have embedded in their walls, one with the dust and cobwebs, one with the overlay of fresh wallpaper and paint, the imprint of what-has-been, the suffering, the joy?”
Daphne du Maurier, Myself When Young

There has never been any doubt in my mind that this quotation written by du Maurier is true. I continue to dream about the house I grew up in. I know that some part my parents and their only child, Stepheny, remain in the dust motes that are captured in the sunlight on the staircase.

One of the great homes in Rocky Mount, built by DJ Rose, sits on the corner of 800 Tarboro St. Many of you have been guests in this home of Jean Bailey. Perhaps you attended one of the outside Courtyard Parties or the wedding reception of Jean’s daughter that must have been magical. This past weekend, friends helped with an estate sale at the house. During my shift, I did my best to hide the emotional roller coaster I was riding knowing that the chapters Jean and her family have added to the story of this home, are winding down. I can tell the house is reluctant to have Jean finally close the door behind her, as are her neighbors, but it’s time now; this magnificent home and garden have a life to be getting on with.

You know how fairy tales start…once upon a time…the iconic Edgemont neighborhood had two-parent families, fathers walking to work, washing cars in the driveway on Saturday, ballgames on the radio, children safely riding bikes all over the neighborhood. Moms took their aprons off and had dinner on the table at the same time every day. Each newly built home was a marvel. I will admit to you that some of the neighborhood is in various states of disrepair, but I guarantee you that the residents want the same things we all want: Safe neighborhoods, good neighbors, reasonable taxes, decent education, adequate healthcare. Investors recognize the beauty of the architecture, the proximity to downtown, and best of all, they bring no baggage to the dreams of a happily-ever-after restoration of this neighborhood.

I want your word that you will think nothing but positive thoughts about the future of Edgemont, which must include an up to date inventory of properties along with accountability from the City Government that should be enforcing the rules on the books that effect neglected properties. You may not be able to buy this beautiful DJ Rose home on Tarboro, but you could start insisting that preserving our neighborhoods is more important than some parade that costs us $60,000-$80,000 and more important than hiring more city employees that we don’t need. If we have that kind of money to do these kinds of things, let’s put those dollars towards stabilizing the facades along Main Street and saving the homes in our neighborhoods.

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CLICK HERE for an earlier post featuring interiors of  Jean Bailey’s home.

CLICK HERE for an earlier post on Edgemont -A Jewel in Rocky Mount’s Crown #1`

Edgemont – A Star in Rocky Mount’s Crown – Part 2

When driving through the Edgemont Historic District, the overlay of time is noticeable, but this is ‘no never mind’ because of the architectural delights that await you. The absence of traffic allows you to drive slowly up and down the streets. I believe that nothing is lost, and so the homes along the way have a collective memory that remains within them. They remember those who walked their dogs the last thing at night, the murmur of voices on the porch, the children learning to ride their bikes who keeled over in front of them. They remember the goodnight kisses hastily stolen at the front door. They remember ladies luncheons with bridge to follow, the men washing their cars on a Saturday morning. The sound of radios with people gathered round to listen to important broadcasts, a baseball game, music. There were gleeful children running to meet their fathers returning from work, the ebb and flow of life of new births and the deaths of the oldest generation. We can’t forget this amazing area because it helps us know who we are. One needs to look past the imperfections of a house that a good exterior painter can fix, past any shrubs that may have grown woody and sparse. Embrace the architectural significance, the great location to downtown, the spirit of the lifestyle and story that Edgemont embodies. I’m actually pleading with realtors to bring their clients into this neighborhood that is affordable, beautiful in the eye of the beholder, and a perfect place to set down roots and thrive.

Realtors, investors, prospective homeowners: Edgemont is listed as a historic district and makes property owners eligible for grants. Get in your car, take your camera, drive slowly along to enjoy one home after another. If you find a For Sale sign, imagine the potential,  appreciate this architectural asset and its history. Tell others to go and get reacquainted with the area. Edgemont is something to be proud that offers a great sense of place that wants to make new memories. Please share this with any realtor you know. Thanks!

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Edgemont – A Jewel In Rocky Mount’s Crown – Part 1

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I wonder if you have eyes to see? Let me show you something that lay beneath an overlay of time. In some cases, that time has dimmed the color and vivaciousness of what once was, but don’t be put off by that. I want you to look at the historic district of Edgemont, a subdivision three blocks east of Main Street in Rocky Mount. The principal avenue is Tarboro Street, flanked by Sycamore and Hill Streets, that compose the core of the area. There are also four crossing streets and service alleys through the centers of the blocks.

The first time I drove through Edgemont it was as if I had discovered a table laid before me set with beautiful crystal, china, and sterling silver. I know you’ll think this too flowery, but Edgemont deserves hyperbole! What we are looking at is a significant area in the community’s development that is one of the major subdivisions of the city’s pre-World War II boom. The area warrants our attention and newfound appreciation. In the world of real estate, Edgemont has one of the most intact collections of historical residential designs in Rocky Mount. These houses and garages of matching architectural design have strong architectural significance.

Please share this post with any realtors you know because this is a call to them and everyone who appreciates architecture and our history;  go and reacquaint yourselves with the area. Imagine how these homes came to be.  Think of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, which had its repair shops in Rocky Mount, and the town’s tobacco market booming in the early twentieth century. Edgemont developed as one of the most stylish of the town’s neighborhoods. For the next twenty-five years doctors, lawyers, tobacconists, salesmen, clerks, and employees of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad built Bungalows, Foursquare’s, Colonial and Tudor Revival style houses on the spacious, flat lots. The preservation of this exceptional neighborhood is in keeping with a sense of place that is available to those who are drawn here. Edgemont is exactly what they want in their lives, but if realtors don’t bring them into the area, how will it be found? What could be better than owning a home that honors the past, while going forth from your front door into the future?

We will continue with more about Edgemont tomorrow. I want to leave you with a Harry Potter line from the Goblet of Fire. Harry walks into what looks to be a small ordinary tent from the outside. When he steps inside he finds a large and beautifully decorated palace-looking space. Amazed, he slowly grins. Harry says, “I love magic.”

Edgemont is a magic kind of place.

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