Like beads on a rosary, I pause on each bead to add a name connected to the preservation, restoration, and repurposing of Main Street. I name the place holders like Virginia’s and The Bicycle Shop, that welcome new business, and the entertainment sector: restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. Part of this litany of names includes, Ed Riley, at The Smokehouse, the folks at Blanches Bistro, and at Trax Coffee. Javelin Guildford at the Secret Garden ll. Yalem Kiros at Nabs, a beautiful spirit in this new scene on Main Street. (She is pictured above.) Moe Deloach’s bead on the rosary is one of the large ones, not only for his restaurant, grill/bar but because he is a prism of light in Rocky Mount. (Click Here to explain what a prism of light is about)
Larema Coffe House has become a friend to everyone that passes through the door. Larema posted a wonderful tribute to Troy Davis on their Facebook page. “Our featured community partner of color this week is Troy Davis, Owner of The Davis Property Group! Local entrepreneur and Rocky Mount native, Troy is a visionary leader who is taking charge in the effort to breathe new life and beauty into many historic commercial properties and houses across our city. While many people talk about building a better community, Troy is literally doing it! A Larema friend and supporter since before our opening, we share Troy’s vision for a renewed vibrancy in historic downtown Rocky Mount – and believe in the many benefits this can have for the whole community. Of his many projects, Troy is particularly excited to soon open the Davis Lofts just around the corner from Larema on Main Street, a historic building preservation and renovation project which will bring more than 20 gorgeous new apartments and a restaurant downtown for all to enjoy. Also, Troy purchased the Carleton House last week, with plans to bring accommodations, a restaurant, conference spaces and a pool to the former 1960s-era motor lodge also located downtown. Troy, thank you for all you do to make Rocky Mount an even better place to live, work and play!”
LAREMA: We’re open in Rocky Mount and Wilson! Weekend hours are as follows -RM: Friday and Saturday, 8am-4pm; Waffle Sunday 9am-4pm
Developer Troy Davis has been working to transform three side-by-side buildings in the 100 block of Southeast Main Street into the future Davis Lofts. When completed there will be 22 high-quality upstairs apartments, four ground-level storefronts for businesses, and a rooftop deck. City Council approved $300,000 in Housing Incentive Grant Program funds for his project. Davis’s overall purpose is to attract young professionals. People living downtown ‘above the store’ is a proven concept in the Main Street Programs that surround Rocky Mount: Elizabeth City, Goldsboro, New Bern, Tarboro. The addresses of the three buildings are, 143, 147 and 149 Southeast Main. Some are leased already. The ramifications of this project will far exceed the grant money involved. Davis said, “The reason I chose to redevelop locations downtown is that the heart of Rocky Mount has great architecture and I want to be part of that.” An article in the Telegram by Bill West said that City records say the private investment in the project totals at least $1.75 million. Those records state that a condition of the funding via the city calls for three of the 22 units to be set aside for affordable housing. A condition that illustrates a lack of understanding of the ‘Living Above The Store’ concept in downtown revitalizations. CLICK HERE: Further information about this project.
A project Ben Braddock is leading is the transformation of the former Music City & Lights — at 131 and 135 Southeast Main. Soon to be a combination of upstairs residential and ground-level commercial development. The former Music City & Lights location highlights the work of Andrew Clark and Nicole Kleinstreuer from the Raleigh-Durham area. Watch for Part 2 – Follow this Blog so you don’t miss it.
Jay at The Secret Garden creating beautiful floral arrangements and wreaths like this one. A Magical Place on Tarboro St.
One of the loveliest things about a friendship with Jane Gravely has been the gift of her mother. I took this sweet photograph of Janice Gravely at the 2019 Hall of Fame Banquet. She was 98 years old. We had a special few minutes alone, holding hands and quietly talking. To me, she was the essence of the verse in the Epistle to the Galatians. In her face, I always saw what we call the fruits of the spirit. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” She confirmed what I believe, that nothing in our lives is wasted. It is all necessary to whom we become. This remembrance can not include the depth and breadth of her life, but it is offered up with love and admiration for a well-lived life.
The young girl in me, that read adventure stories, was drawn to her airplane story of heroism, bravery, and faith. It is a story of loss and over-coming. Of the ability to draw from an interior life when needed. September 1, 2019, Mary Speidel wrote:
“Janice Gravely sang this song – based on Psalm 17:8 – at the top of her voice inside the cockpit of a single-engine plane as her husband, Edmund, slumped unconscious in the pilot’s seat next to her. She’d flown as a passenger with Edmund, a former Navy aviator and flight instructor, plenty of times, but Janice had no training as a pilot. She suddenly finds herself behind the controls of her husband’s aircraft. “I had a choice,” recalls Janice of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. “I could either be afraid of what was going to happen to both of us, or I could trust God. It was a life or death matter; I trusted God.” Praying fervently, she broke out in song, remembering words to a song she’d learned only the day before. She especially leaned into the words, “Keep Your hand upon me lest I die.” Despite high winds, Janice managed to keep the plane airborne for the next two hours. Then just as the fuel ran out, she crash-landed the plane in a field near Henderson, North Carolina.
I have written about the Hall of Fame Portraits where in my imagination, when the lights dim, and everyone is gone, those who are gone, have fascinating conversations, there is music; a coming together of talent, leadership, wisdom, humor, patrioticm and faithful people who have been the wind under Rocky Mount’s wings. Janice is now part of these conversations. Here is the photo and write up in the Hall of Fame banquet program when she was inducted in the Class of 2017.
Navy veterans of World War II, Janice and her husband, Edmund, married in 1944, settled in Rocky Mount and raised four children. Janice made international news in 1982 landing an airplane after her pilot husband died in flight. The New York Times and the FAA attribute that feat to a miracle of God.She began writing and speaking to groups here and abroad. Her books include Won’t Somebody Help Me! and Ground Level Christianity.
A native of California, Janice graduated from UCLA with a degree in history and later attended UNC-Chapel Hill earning her teaching credentials. A prolific painter, she has painted almost all over the world, has had five solo art shows, and has been featured in the NC Museum of Art.
Janice is a member of the Colonial Dames of the Seventeenth Century. As Girl Scout Troop Leader for eight years, she received a commendation from President Jimmy Carter for having the first Girl Scout troop to successfully complete the Boy Scout dead-reckoning trail at Valley Forge. As a member of the Rocky Mount Junior Guild for fifty years, she served as president and held other offices. She has served on the Rocky Mount School board, the Rocky Mount Christian Women’s Club, and the local PTA board.
She is a sustaining force for the National Day of Prayer activities for Rocky Mount augmenting those activities with the one day Public Bible Reading Aloud which has increased from ninety readers in 2013 locally to over one thousand readers locally, in other NC cities, other states and other nations. She was a Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church, teaching Sunday School and singing in the choir. She was president of the United Methodist Women and served on the administrative board for the First United Methodist Church in Rocky Mount.
Janice has contributed to her country through her military service and to her state and community through civic and church organizations. She has shared her talents with writing and her paintings. She has lived a life of honor, integrity, and excellence and credits it to her active Christian life.
This post is written for fellow Hall of Fame Board Members, friends, Jane Gravely & Lanny Shuff, and for all those who celebrate the life of Janice Gravely. Photos: Stepheny and Jane, Peter Varney and Lanny Shuff
From the burial service in the Episcopal Prayer Book:
As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.
After my awaking, he will raise me up;
and in my body I shall see God.
I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him
who is my friend and not a stranger.
I have taken photographs of this building on Main Street many times because it is one of my favorite. On life support, I’ve been sitting by the bedside, so to speak, keeping a close watch on the patient growing weaker. These are classic commercial facades, and when restored to health, will be two more stars in Main Street’s crown. Work has begun! Andre Knight, the physician on the case, has taken charge. It is an amen moment for Main Street. The restoration of the numerous buildings under Mr. Knights’s care is a heavy caseload, but I like him best in this role as the doctor saving lives. It’s important work, and done right, will leave a legacy among the other ‘repairers of the breach’ that will be remembered with thanksgiving.
“You can ignore a piece of sculpture or a painting hung on the walls of the Art Institute, but architecture is the inescapable art.”
Blair Kamain, architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune
In Ken Burns fashion, let’s zoom out before focusing in on Rocky Mount’s two new, beautifully executed, murals. While enjoying and celebrating these artistic additions to the Main Street area, a bit more information helps to expand our appreciation of these exciting additions. We have a new term to add to our Main Street vocabulary: Place-Making. We usually talk about a sense of place.
Murals are created in the city for the city. They are closely tied to the physical and social environment. The resurgance of Place-Making Murals in the revitilization of cities and towns have become significant in urban renewal, redevelopment and regeneration of city and town. Among other things, murals show support for the artistic community, social reintegration, and education. Rocky Mount’s two new murals, one finished, the other still in progress, will prove significant in Rocky Mount’s revitilazation. You must go and see for yourself how striking they are and the visual impact of Place-Making. When you see the Rocky Mount Murals further on, you will clap your hands with me and continue to say, I believe.
Let’s zoom out to Quebec City. Click a Prior Post on the Murals of Quebec “ln the last 15 years, a number of fresco paintings have popped up across Quebec City, becoming a real tourist attraction and a major component of the city’s urban heritage. The murals, which depict the history of the city and its inhabitants, were commissioned between 1999 and 2008 to celebrate 400 years of the city’s existence. Although the pieces are fairly recent, they have nonetheless become part of the city’s artistic and cultural heritage.”