New Podcast Today: Talking Main Street With Stepheny #3

JOIN ME

Inviting you to listen to the latest Podcast (under five minutes.) It has been an up-hill learning curve but I’m determined. Looking at the audio track after recording, the blue up and down lines with spaces reminds me of life in general… Sailing along, singing a happy tune, and then that pause when you have forgotten that your glasses are on your head, or standing in front of the open refrigerator forgetting what you needed. You get my point. Each podcast is about Main Street with some storytelling, reflection, and enthusiasm thrown in for good measure. Enjoy!

Talking Main Street: Episode #3 – Main Street Revitalization Leads To Successful Results Talking Main Street With Stepheny

5 minute Episode: Change is on Stepheny's mind today – two sides of a coin – 
  1. Talking Main Street: Episode #3 – Main Street Revitalization Leads To Successful Results
  2. Episode #2- Drawing Large Circles
  3. Talking Main Street With Stepheny – Episode 1

Dodge City Steakhouse In Rocky Mount

Reese Clay, Mgr. of Dodge City Steakhouse (Stepheny Making a New Friend)

Rocky Mount has a relatively new notch on its belt when it comes to a fun restaurant, good food, great staff. I took myself off to a late lunch not too long ago. I’d been told about Dodge City at 1457 Benvenue Rd. in Cobb Corners.  I’ve been back! Dodge City Steakhouse isn’t on Main Street but it is a welcomed addition to the  food scene that people are seeking out as locals and ‘come to town’ folks.

Reese Clay started in the food business in 2009 and is now Dodge City’s ambassador. She may be their greatest asset who has a mission. She loves to see her customers smile, she loves her staff, she loves the food, of course, Rib Eyes and a New York Strip. (I tried a hamburger on my first visit and there is plenty more to choose from.)

The restaurant is now in-dining at 75% capacity. The interior is spacious, the staff reflects Reese Clay’s determination that customers feel welcomed, are provided good service, and leave with a smile. Of course, children and families fit right in.  They are in the process of implementing curbside service, but you’ll have to check on that. 252-442-3824

Reese Clay has her cheer-leading outfit on when it comes to Rocky Mount and the Dodge City customers. It is a lot to say grace over but she and the staff have things running like “a well-oiled machine.” Have fun, eat well, and think of me over a glass of Sweet Tea.

Annoucing Stepheny’s New 5 Minute Audio Podcasts – Talking Main Street

Hi Everyone: Stepheny here with a new podcast – Talking Main Street.

Published Every Week on Wednesdays

Below is a brief blurb about the series.

Enjoy 5-minute episodes with Stepheny Houghtlin who brings her storytelling style to Main Street. The backdrop for this podcast series is preservation that saves commercial and residential architecture. It is about honoring the history, people, and sense of place that is singularly unique to every Main Street. With a bit of straight talk, nostalgia, and reminiscing, Stepheny is waiting for you on her bench in downtown Rocky Mount, NC

Click Here For Episode 1:https://anchor.fm/stepheny-houghtlin/episodes/Talking-Main-Street-With-Stepheny—Episode-1-ev7s79

Rocky Mount’s Neighborhoods Should Be Places Remembered with love

The Houghtlin Garden is in some state of disrepair, like the shotgun and bungalow houses spread across Wards 1-4. My garden needs the same attention, passion, and investment. There is a similarity in my mind between the love I feel when I get out of my car to take photographs and the look of my garden this Spring. Regardless of the state of a shotgun house, I always see the significance of this American architecture, what it once was, and can be again. There are the bungalows filled with stories and architectural details. I see the garden in the same way. Spring flowering has taken over and ignores the fact that there is work to be done. I’m not good lifting 40-pounds bags of mulch anymore, but I can drag it on a tarp; a reality check that I can’t work as long or as hard as I once did. All I can say further about that is – damn!

“The old woman paid no attention to the camellia until that morning, when a fleck of pink caught her eye. The single saucer-size blossom was more magnificent than she could ever have imagined. More beautiful than any rose she’d ever seen, it swayed in the morning breeze with such an air of royalty, the old woman felt the urge to curtsey in its presence.”
― Sarah Jio, The Last Camellia

Camellias prefer a position that is in dappled or full shade. An area that gets morning shade is best as direct sun in the morning can dry out too quickly the developing flower buds. Camellias are woodland plants and do not cope well in a sunny, south facing spot. The neglected housing situation has nothing to do with where they are, but who the head gardener is or has been on the City Council. It isn’t fair to say, nothing has been done, just not enough. New leadership with the will to see it through, who welcome investment, who cares about the quality of life available to the people in their Wards, that’s what is needed. This housing saved, and restored will be filled with work force, retired, senior citizens, first time home buyers, singles, young professionals, fireman, nurses, policeman, and kids on their bikes.

Seeing the pear trees a blaze, driving through the historical districts of Rocky Mount, I am filled with nostalgic for home, for my youth, for the remembrance of things. Wherever you are, take my hand and think about what you would write this spring about gardens, riding your bike through a safe neighborhood and each home along your way that you still remember. Rocky Mount neighborhoods must become places to grow up in, or grow old in, that will be rememberd with love.

“Memory in these incomparable streets, in mosaics of pain and sweetness, was clear to me now, a unity at last. I remembered small and unimportant things from the past: the whispers of roommates during thunderstorms, the smell of brass polish on my fingertips, the first swim at Folly Beach in April, lightning over the Atlantic, shelling oysters at Bowen’s Island during a rare Carolina snowstorm, pigeons strutting across the graveyard at St. Philip’s, lawyers moving out of their offices to lunch on Broad Street, the darkness of reveille on cold winter mornings, regattas, the flash of bagpipers’ tartans passing in review, blue herons on the marshes, the pressure of the chinstrap on my shako, brotherhood, shad roe at Henry’s, camellias floating above water in a porcelain bowl.” Author: Pat Conroy 

Preservation Rocky Mount Meeting Tonight – Zoom in with us!

Join PRMs January 2021 Business Meeting with the ZOOM Link Below 
PRM Business Meeting
Date: Monday, January 25, 2021 from 6:00-6:30PM
Location: Virtual Meeting via ZOOM
Members Only

Thank you for registering for Preservation Rocky Mount’s annual business meeting, where we will elect our incoming Officers and Board Members. And, thank you for supporting PRM by being a member. With your support we retain the architectural heritage, neighborhood character, and historic landscapes of the Rocky Mount, North Carolina area through collaboration, education, advocacy, and restoration.

Click the link below to participate in the business meeting. The meeting agenda is as follows:

  • Welcome and 2020 Reflections by 2020 President of PRM, Alicyn Wiedrich
  • Incoming Officer and Board Elections by 2020 Vice President of PRM, Jean Bailey
  • Debut of short documentary about City Lake by local high school students
  • Short film about restoration of Stonewall Manor made possible by PRM
ZOOM into PRM Business Meeting
The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00PM. Admins will start letting people in to join the meeting no later than 5:55PM. If you do not have a camera or audio on your phone, you may also call in to the meeting:

Meeting ID: 985 8309 2647
Passcode: 545400
One tap mobile
+1-929-205-6099,,98583092647#,,,,*545400# US (New York)
+1-301-715-8592,,98583092647#,,,,*545400# US (Washington DC)

Our mailing address is:
301 S Church Street
Suite 136
Rocky Mount, NC 27804

The Importance of Art On Main Street

Street Art is Freedom and Diversity

Street Art is about freedom, creativity, and a way to ask and raise questions, to protest and beautify. It steps beyond convention. You don’t need to be a ‘legitimate’ artist with name recognition, or a large social media presence. People accept the creative and talented people involved in street art as artists. The photograph below are of the nicest young people creating street art in front of the Event Center. They are friendly, and willing to explain the process. Knee pads a must.

“In the last couple of years I have come to appreciate street art. I now go out of my way to see this art and take walking tours when offered. There are many reasons why people love street art and why it is becoming more popular. Street art is an important part of history and identity, and the ability to breathe life into communities.” -Janaline, World Journey Blog.

As a gardener, I agree that every garden should have a little whimsy in it. The revitalization of Rocky Mount would be bereft without art in many forms. Street art has whimsy, color and energy. I love that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.  These young artists who are working on this project, spelling out – END RACISM, will leave a piece of themselves for the duration of this display. I hope they will come back in a few years and create something new that will continue to attract  people downtown to see this changing art through the years. It was great fun to be with these young artists and absorb their enthusiasm and camaraderie.  

We don’t all agree about when the accusation of racism is appropriate. When this name-calling is employed in City Council as a reaction to criticism, it is recognized for that.  We all agree that in and of itself,  ending racism is a must. I’m grateful that Rocky Mount’s new instillation is not angry or cause for further division. Let’s celebrate these artists and the positive effect it will have on bringing people downtown. If you want to see wonderful photos of this same work, check out – William Manley – photographer. He does this street art justice.

An Upgraded Version of Preservation Rocky Mount Is Now Available

“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!

Student $10.00
Single $20.00
Couple $30.00
Corporate $50.00
Sustaining $100.00
Benefactor $500.00 and up

*Memberships run on an annual basis.

Main Street – The Man on the Bicycle

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 possibleZack 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 

The ‘Country Fair” Carousel of Rocky Mount Holds Childhood Memories- Old and New

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:

Herschell-Spillman Carousel
Sunset Park
1550 River Drive, Rocky Mount
(252) 972-1151
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