“To retain the architectural heritage, neighborhood character, and historic landscapes of the Rocky Mount, North Carolina area through collaboration, education, advocacy, and restoration.”
— Preservation Rocky Mount Mission
I am standing at your door like the long ago encyclopedia salesman. I want to sell you the upgraded version of the organization – Preservation Rocky Mount. Even if you have no idea what PRM is about, invite me in. I hope to interest you in joining PRM with new leadership, and talented new board members who join the five returning members. The result of the suspension of meetings this past year is this: There will be a new agenda of accomplishments that are tangible, with a meaningful impact on the historic sites/structures in Rocky Mount.
Preservation is a big deal. The language that is used in my reading is repeated here to say that preservation includes the strengthening of local economics, the stabilization of property values, the fostering of civic beauty and community pride, and the appreciation of local and national history. Historic preservation safeguards a community’s heritage, making it available to future generations for civic enjoyment and educational activities. Historic preservation improves business opportunities. It has both public and private benefits.
The new leadership and board bring experience, their reputations, and career goals, their hands on preservation efforts, to the aspects of preservation listed above. Those of you from real estate, business, and financial sectors, small business, new businesses, please join and add your voice and expertise necessary to rebuild PRM into a organization known for its successful preservation efforts. Everyone who reads this blog post, please share; This can be your part to sing in the chorus.
Many of you were born and raised here and you remember the bustling downtown, riding your bikes everywhere, playing in the neighborhood, helping neighbors. You knew the names of the people living in most of the homes. Preserving these stories, saving the significant architectural inventory of residential and commercial buildings are key to the revitalization of Rocky Mount. If you doubt me, drive to Goldsboro or New Bern, or Elizabeth City to see the results of preservation, restoration and repurposing.
Rocky Mount has a great story, a sense of place that must be protected. We need all of you to join PRM to lend your experience, brains, voice, passion, and the special interests you bring to this endeavor. You know the saying, many hands make light work, well, in this case, many hands bring financial support through memberships and towards fundraising for projects that will be undertaken. The greatest currency is your name on the membership list signifying a presence in the new preservation efforts.
PRM has a new face, agenda, and focus on moving ahead. Past members will be invigorated with these new officers and board, who will meet for the first time by zoom in February. They are ready to reconnect with members of the past and welcome all new preservationists to this non-profit organization. A further explanation of the new direction will follow that meeting.
I will provide the link, when available, for you to join a 1/2 hr ZOOM membership meeting, January 25 at 6:00PM. At that time the officers and board will be voted on. Further details will be included with the zoom link.
Membership in Preservation Rocky Mount is open to anyone interested in preservation of the community’s historic resources. We have a number of membership levels. Mailing Address: 301 South Church St., Suite 126
Rocky Mount, NC 27804 When joining, include your name, mailing address, phone and most important, your e-mail address to save money on stamps. Feel free to add a contribution with your dues if your discretionary fund allows. Thank You!
Benefactor $500.00 and up
*Memberships run on an annual basis.
Almost a year ago, while I was walking and taking photographs on Main Street, I had a chance meeting with an energetic young man named, Zack Poll. Click Here: for a previous blog post about Zack. Zack was standing with friends in front of his South Main building that he is renovating. Once a drug store, there is a large space to renovate, the purpose evolving in his imagination. This chance meeting has lead to friendship. I’m proud of this ‘roll up his sleeves’ electrician, among other talents. Don’t bother to tell him he can’t do something. Having planted his flag on Main street, he is an advocate for preservation, restoration, and repurposing. He is doing his own work but has two sidekicks that are amazing too.
“My dad retired last year and he plays a critical part in helping. A project may start out as a headache to him, but in looking back, he recognizes the fruit of the efforts and the quality work that will last a hundred years. My mom comes to help outside of her part-time office working hours. I have coated over 1000 sq.ft. of a wall with stucco on the rooftop and she was pivotal in that project handing tools and keeping the new roof coverings clean from wet cement.” When possible, Zack and his mother put on some music and stay in a well-planned grove.
Zack tells me that the red brick walls had severe deterioration from the water entering the porous brick over the years. It freezes in the winter and shears off large pieces in the same way potholes are formed on the roads. Zack’s method allows the brick to remain exposed and the silhouette of the brick shows through the thin stucco surface. If not for this they would be completely covered by rolled roofing and sheet metal, which is common practice in covering a wall. Zack is getting requests for work on other people’s walls. You know where that money will go; into his own renovations.
When you drive down Main Street and see the work going on, you now know some of the nitty-gritty that goes on to preserve and restore a Main Street commercial building. In the next photos, you will see where Zack, in removing extra materials, has exposed the original stepping of the parapet wall. The paint is to be determined. It is looking good from the street. This parapet wall is part of the yellow facade below.
PS: Zack is the man on the bicycle. On breaks, he checks on how things are progressing downtown. Despite the virus’ impact, he sees good things happening. A Rocky Mount boy, he is another Repairer of the Breach, that will be known by his preservation deeds. To reach him: 252-452-1335
PPS: The post is dedicated to Zack, his mom and dad, and to everyone working hard in the historic Rocky Mount downtown. SFH
I have always been a Merry-go-round child. I remember how important it was to pick the right horse and the whirling sound of carousel music. Do you remember watching for your parents standing in the crowd as round and round you’d go? Let’s be Merry-go-round children again while I remind you of some research information.
Start with some Carousel Music: https://youtu.be/TU_gWsoAB6o
In the turn of the last century, carousels fascinated the public. While the ride was available to Europeans since the 1700s, it was the advent of the steam engine that helped carousels come into their own.
Gustav Dentzel pioneered the modern carousel in America around the time of the Civil War. By the 1900s, artisans and manufacturers were building large and grand carousels. They favored animals and mythological creatures in a variety of poses. All were brightly painted and outfitted to prance in a continuous circle. Interest in the rides peaked in the 1930s. After that, many of the rides were dismantled or allowed to fall into disrepair. A resurgence of interest in the 1970s saved many of the old carousels. With new paint and gilding, the old motors were refurbished and all of the creatures came back to life for a new generation.
The International Museum of Carousel Art reported, “Of the more than 4,000 carousels built in America during the ‘golden age,’ fewer than 150 exist intact today.”
Several of them are here in North Carolina, including two from the master himself, Gustav Dentzel. I’ll write more about our other NC carousels, but NOW:
1550 River Drive, Rocky Mount
The circa 1920 Herschell-Spillman “County Fair” style carousel was bought for the City of Rocky Mount in 1952 by the Rocky Mount Civitan Club. The Carousel was severely damaged in the flood of 1999 and required extensive restoration by Carousel Magic of Mansfield, Ohio.
Renovated rounding boards were added to include paintings of images found on 1920′s postcards depicting Rocky Mount landmarks and activities of that time.
Open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, 1-7 p.m. A $5 admission fee allows day-long rides on the carousel, train, spray ground and other amenities.
Video about the Carousel: https://youtu.be/LYd5HU8IjkI
A June 4th morning – I have taken myself off to NABS (Never A Better Sandwich) for a fresh baked Cinnamon bun, and dare I admit, sweet (tea). I am sitting outside listening to soft jazz, the most divine breeze stirring the leaves on the trees and the American flags flapping gently on the lamp posts. The Century Link Man in his service truck waves at me as he goes by. Peace!
The Douglas Block now and then: I can imagine the folks from years ago as if they are all still here. They appear like a ghost who steps through a wall or perhaps walking out of the cornfield as in the movie, Field of Dreams. Here they continue to shop, meet and greet, visiting the drug store, going to the movies, families with children in tow who have come to town. Once segregated, could they possibly imagine me sitting at the sidewalk cafe table listening for them, watching them from afar. I think about Ed Riley and Yalem, owners of the now-famous Smokehouse and this new coffee sandwich shop. If you know Ed, he is a great big bear of a man who gives hugs that rub the fur-fabric right off the proverbial Velveteen Rabbit. The sidewalk concrete space at the end of the building is waiting to be transformed into more outdoor seating. With Yalem’s eye and creativity, I know it is going to be a destination.
I hope for a train to come by and am not disappointed. I think too late to count the cars as we did when kids. There is no caboose at the end coming around the track, track, track. The long mile of cars heads south. After some photographs, I returned to the little table to further enjoy this scene, to honor The Douglas Block Story. This pleasant morning seems important to celebrate, to hope for all good things to come.
Take a minute and listen to Ella Fitzgerald singing It’s A Lovely Day Today… she got the whole scene just right.
Honey Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients: 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons honey – 2 tablespoons olive oil – 1 teaspoon cinnamon – 1/2 teaspoon salt – 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the honey, olive oil, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Add the sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Dump potatoes onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Serves 4
SFH Photographs – Enticing you to a Farm to Table Experience
This time of year Frank Sinatra’s version of I’ll be Home for Christmas usually makes me homesick for the little girl I once was, and for my parents, and Christmas memories. The Marshall Field’s Christmas windows in downtown Chicago were apart of those times. Because I have been doing a lot of thinking, researching, and talking to people about the downtown Rocky Mount buildings, the storefronts in particular, are on my mind…..These buildings, their history, and the exciting possibilities that are hovering over them if you have eyes to see. With my imagination, it didn’t take long to transpose the idea of the Field’s Christmas windows into the storefronts along Main Street. Click on the Sinatra link above to do your own remembering. Join me on a walk to see the Christmas windows that can be created once again with hard work and vision. When accomplished, future children’s memories of home will include Main Street at Christmas time. Merry Christmas!