Better Blends Juice and Smoothie Bar – I Can Tell Already It Will Be A Success

Years ago I sat under a white tent that covered the invited guests to a rehearsal dinner. Much  to the dismay of those of us who were older, the toasts by so called friends turned into a roast of the groom. “I remember the night you were drunk and  knocked on my door at 2:00 AM.” It went down hill from there. My reaction: how will this couple make it with friends like this, no talk of love, respect, or support? The marriage  didn’t make it.

A few days ago I wrote on the new Facebook page by the same name as this blog – Main Street Rocky Mount- about the renovated building located on Sorsby’s Place at 116/118 Sunset Avenue. 118 has been leased to Better Blends Juice and Smoothie Bar. James Silver & Kydeem Vaughan plan to be open early Spring. (Check out Better Blends FB page to learn more.) You are going to love the concept, the location, and Kydeem Vaughn, who is pictured on the FB page, along with James Silver, pictured here. They are the co-owners of this new business.

James Silver- co-owner

I went to the Goat Bottle Shoppe at the mill the other evening for a gathering that sipped delicious samples of what is on the horizon for everyone when the store opens. I know it is going to be a successful business. The reason I know this is because everyone who came to support James & Kydeem were lovely, enthusiastic, friendly and believe in James and Kydeem. The partners have a lot of love under their wings that will create a happy place for customers to enjoy. Kydeem and James are part of the new reality on Main Street. They have planted their flag along with a growing number of Repairers of the Breach. A designation I give to those who are investing, renovating, repurposing, preserving, saving Main Street and Surrounds. You too can be a Repairer by your attitude, positivity, supporting the new businesses that are opening, and enjoying the new Main Street scene. Follow this blog and the FB page to read about what’s happening.   

A Smoothie Tasting

A few of the supportive friends sampling




Posted in Preservation of Historic Commercial Buildings, Preservation Rocky Mount, Preservation Success | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Do You SEE What I See? – For Sale – The Gas Station On The Corner of Thomas and Franklin Streets

Every time I pass by, I slow down and look at a corner Shell gas station that is for sale on Thomas and Franklin streets.  My imagination takes over and a successful restaurant materializes. The reuse of old stations started to grow in 2002, when Congress authorized the EPA to use its brownfield funding for cleanup of properties with low risk underground storage tanks (for fuel).

“Gas stations are almost always on corner sites, they have good visibility and  accessibility, so they make great locations for restaurants,” said Ellen Dunham-Jones, a professor of architecture and urban design at the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-author of “Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.”

Dunham-Jones, who studies adaptive reuse of many types of buildings, said gas stations repurposed into eateries tend to be near residential neighborhoods. I stood on the paved surface where there is room for plenty of parking, the busy traffic passing by. I wanted to call out, “Do you see what I see?”

Here are photographs of this cool little building. Though the interior is untouched, as seen through the windows with my hands pressed against the glass, the exterior has been gentrified (don’t get me started) with a nice fresh tasteful paint job.

In addition, I’ve added some photos of repurposed gas stations in the world beyond Rocky Mount. Do you recognize what stations they once were? I bet you never thought when you awakened this morning that old gas stations would suddenly become of interest, but how can you resist? Go look at this fun building and dream a little dream with me.

Olio, St. Louis, MO
In 1937, this art deco Standard Oil Station was owned by a man named Mr. Kinworthy. Today, original subway tiles and salvaged brick serve as reminders of the restaurant’s former function.


I have used this photograph before but isn’t it perfect for my dream gas station interior?

You are invited to FOLLOW this blog, Main Street… Here I write about the emerging downtown scene and surroundings where revitalization is happening. You don’t want to miss thinking about things like old gas stations, for heaven’s sake.   SFH

Scroll down to read comments readers are leaving.





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Exciting News: Twenty Two Lofts on Main Street – Buildings Saved By Troy Davis

Two doors down from Davis furniture on Main Street we have this!

The first time I explored the alley behind Davis Furniture Company I was intrigued and excited to see some renovation had already taken place. It was quite a shock, however, to see the back of two buildings two doors down from the Davis business. Here is the picture I took that day that I have published several times on this blog in outrage that the owner of the building was not held accountable through the enforcement of ordinances or being sued by the owners of the adjacent buildings.

The Downtown Merchant Association is full of great news. One announcement is that the Davis Property Group is developing 22 lofts with roof top amenities in the 100 block of SE Main St.where these collapsed  building has gone unattended. My anxiety over loosing the facade, or the interior being struck by lightening causing a fire, and safety issues have come to an end. Here are new photographs showing the incredible damage cleared away. What a feat.


Alimentaire Wholesome Breads
Coming to 132 SW Main Street


There are already people living downtown, but remarkable energy and planning by investors, architects, and contractors are creating new living spaces in the midst of an emerging street scene around them. It’s early days, but the amenities that are needed to complete Main Street and surrounds are in progress. Here is the sign for a new French bakery that is being worked on. One more piece of the puzzle about to be put in place.

Thanks to people, both black and white, who are planting their flags throughout the Main Street areas, new stories are being created. Private investment, energy, dreams, expertise and vision are not only  economic drivers for Rocky Mount but are saving our commercial architecture; our signature, our story, our future.




Posted in Rocky Mount Building Preservation | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The Artist’s Eye Upon The Emerging Main Street Scene

Carrboro, N.C.

I’m always interested in watercolor sketches of architecture. I want you to see these prints of several familiar North Carolina cities that are available on Etsy. Soon enough Rocky Mount will warrant a poster. This is a call to our local artists to envision a future exhibit featuring our architecture. We could link the exhibit with a Main Street celebration of the Arts. I’m thinking a ticketed opening night fund raiser to pay for a wall mural or ?? and then we could have a ticketed lecture on the exhibit/preservation angle, and, and, and…..The exhibit itself would be free and available to the public, perhaps hung in several places. We have a robust and under appreciated art community that deserves to be recognized and have an opportunity to show off.

I have already written that Rocky Mount and entrepreneurs go together like Pooh Bear and honey. Here is a business we can appreciate: Papermill Creative is a Triangle NC-based creative startup owned by Lori (Durhamite) and Ashley (Carrboro-ite). “We’re two librarians who love the places we live in, and create art and gifts that celebrate the architecture and culture of North Carolina towns and beyond. Our watercolor designs are full of details, inviting the viewer in to explore the places we’re inspired by.”

In reading Main Street you know that I write about preserving, restoring and repurposing our architectural inventory. I’m interested in honoring the past while stressing the integral part our architecture plays in building a future. Wouldn’t you agree that our tendency is to stop ‘seeing’ or valuing the things we pass by everyday like a commercial building or an old house? These watercolor posters remind us of the beauty, history and uniqueness that each city needs to preserve, restore and save. I hope this art work will prompt you to think about the wonderful possibilities of a Rocky Mount Poster and a future exhibit.

Check the Etsy site to purchase these prints. Link is above in the article

Durham, N.C. marrying traditional brick warehouses with stylish art deco buildings.

Downtown Durham, NC


Downtown Raleigh, NC

Old West Durham


Chapel Hill, NC

Saxapahaw, NC


Hillsbourgh, N.C.

Posted in Books & Art Related to Main Street | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I Brought Something Back From My Trip For You – (Main Street Readers)

You’ll do whatever it takes to get to a granddaughter’s wedding even if it is in Milwaukee in January. My fur coat that hangs out in the back of my closet was delighted to be needed again as in days of regular outings in winter weather on the North Shore just beyond Chicago. It was only after a safe trip from Raleigh to Atlanta and on to Milwaukee that a storm began making big news with a predicted snow fall  of 10.” or more. Our flight was cancelled before the festivities had hardly begun. The only answer, a flight on Monday that went from Milwaukee to Fort Lauderdale with a change over to Raleigh. (Figure that out!) Someone else would have brought you delicious Wisconsin cheese or a bag of oranges from FL.  I brought something better.

I brought a few photographs of a repurposed home/restaurant for inspiration. Our own Tap 1918 at the Mill is a perfect example of preservation at work, the beautiful saving of the house, the repurposing, and you have a restaurant that is part of a success story and source of pride at  The Rocky Mount Mill.

North of Milwaukee, we had lunch at a place called “The Cheel.” or in English, “The Eagle.” A rare 1890’s Victorian home, once a dilapidated yet charming building, a couple with entrepreneurial spirits got interested. The building’s central location and deep history invigorated their creativity and drive. Their goal was to revive this once esteemed local landmark, and celebrate with the community their unique dining traditions. The food was excellent, which is a must for success. I loved seeing the Wisconsin folks gathered at the tables with their beers, some wearing knitted stocking hats along with boots made for snow, not looks. It felt like I had stepped back into a black and white photo that could only have been taken in Wisconsin.

The Cheel is located at 105 S. Main Street in downtown Thiensville. Lovingly restored and re-imagined, the eclectic décor includes an original art deco bar, high tops and banquets, and a covered 4-season outdoor patio. Here is another example of a Main Street endeavor that makes me believe that anything they can do, we can do better.

PS: It was a beautiful wedding weekend with lots of love all around. Thankfully, the snow fall did not live up to expectations, that fact too late to save our flight. After a few special days, I am home again, home again, jiggly-jig, a bit tired around the edges, but happy for granddaughter, Sally, and her wonderful young husband, Trevor. I hope you like what I’ve brought you – inspiration to save and repurpose a dilapidated yet charming old something!




Posted in Reimagining Rocky Mount | Tagged , | 2 Comments

You Can Come Home Again – Erwin Wilde Did – Home To Machaven


Erwin Wilde came home to Machaven last night. A house built in 1907-1908 for her grandmother, and James Hines, her grandfather, a leading businessman, civic leader. H.P.S. Keller was the architect for the 2 1/2-story, Classical Revival style brick dwelling with a slate-covered hipped roof. With five interior chimneys, a pedimented portico with Doric columns, and a full-width one-story porch, Machaven stands on a half-acre plot surrounded by a 1930’s Flemish-bond wall. Machaven is to be found at 306 S. Grace Street in the Villa Place Historic District.

You’re familiar with a sleeping pet who suddenly raises his or her head because they hear something, know something. Machaven was sitting quietly last night in the twilight expecting members and the board of Preservation Rocky Mount. In through the door, came a familiar voice, a known footstep. It was a little girl, who claims to be 83 years old who stood smiling. The house was instantly happy. This happiness went beyond its on-going restoration, lights and workman bringing a new purpose to Machaven. This happiness was the recognition of Erwin Wilde, who’s mother had been left the house when Mr. Hines died, who then raised her young children in the house before it became the City Club and important add-ons took place like an elevator.

Erwin is a living testament to what I know is true: age is only a number, an attitude, and can be a cause for celebration. Bright and funny, Erwin shared stories that endeared her to everyone, long time friend or new. She spoke of the 33 step staircase and the wallpaper in the dining room, though painted over, whose roses continue to bloom. They are slightly visible in a certain light, but plain to see in Erwin where ever she is.

I have a big imagination, but it was a privilege to hear about the conversations that took place around the dining room table, the room where we were gathered. Machaven is woven through the story of so many. Weddings, receptions, parties, white table cloth dining, being shooed off the wall by the maids in the house, or trick or treating at Halloween, the magnificent home that remembers it all. Being in Erwin’s company last night, to see her smile and laugh, old friends gathered around her, made me cry, of course. CLICK HERE: Erwin is one of the ‘prisms of light’ I wrote about to begin 2019. I can’t think of a better way to begin 2020!  Scroll down to read comments.

Happy New Year To All


Posted in Machaven Historic Hom | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Preservation Rocky Mount Membership Gathers at Machaven Tonight – January 7th

I’m looking forward to this Members Only opportunity: People interested in the preservation of our architectural inventory will be gathering  in this special place that is alive and well again. Machaven: A crown jewell in the community. You may join on line or at the event tonight to attend. #20.00 per year.

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Preservation Rocky Mount

Tonight is the first Members Only Preservation Rocky Mount Meeting of 2020. The meeting is from 6 PM-8 PM. The location is The Historic MacHaven House at 306 S.Grace St., Rocky Mount, NC.

We encourage all members to attend this meeting, as this one sets the tone for the new year! If you are not a member, please visit our website at and join. Membership opportunities will also be available tonight at this event.

All memberships are annual and offer loads of benefits that last all year. Single annual memberships are a one time fee of $20, and couples are $30.

For more information about this meeting please visit our events page at

Preservation Rocky Mount will be providing light refreshments.

Parking instructions are: On the Park Avenue side of the house you’ll see wrought iron gates leading to a driveway up to The Machaven. You can park there and it accommodates at least 10 cars. There is a grassy lot to the left of the wrought iron gates that can handle overflow as well as ample street parking.

Posted in Preservation Rocky Mount | Tagged | 2 Comments