Celebrating Four Years of the Main Street Rocky Mount Blog – 2015 – 2019 with D.J. Rose

I want to celebrate this anniversary by honoring D.J. Rose once again because I never write about Main Street and the surrounding areas, the commercial and residential architecture of Rocky Mount, that I don’t think of him. His legacy can be found in the Ricks Hotel, the original Masonic Temple on Main Street, the May and Gorham building, Rocky Mount Municipal building on Main Street. the Peoples Bank building, the First Methodist and First Presbyterian Churches, Planters Cotton Seed Oil factory, Rocky Mount’s Railroad Passenger Station including the addition of the second and third floors, Rocky Mount’s first electric power plant and water plant, as well as portions of the building you know today as The Power Plant, the Sunset Avenue Water Plant and significant portions of Rocky Mount Mills buildings. Some of the schools he built are Abraham Lincoln, R. M. Wilson School, and Edgemont. The firm he founded, D. J. Rose and Son Inc., is the oldest continuously operating general contracting firm in North Carolina and to this day maintains the North Carolina General Contractors License number 27. The future that is being reimagined today is partially built upon the architectural assets Mr. Rose and his company contributed to Rocky Mount. We owe him our gratitude for his work and legacy.

Staircase in the D.J. Rose home on Sunset Ave

I’ve written more about our local politics this year than any of the first three years combined. The blog has always been about anything but that. I suppose I’ve been preaching to my own choir (constituency) that largely agree with me, rather than reach the people I would hope to change. I keep thinking maybe someone on the far side of the moon from where I stand will hear me. So I keep trying!

Affordable and workforce housing made available in our existing neighborhoods is the top of my list these days along with rescuing a negative connotation of the word gentrification. According to Wikipedia,  Gentrification is “a complex process involving physical improvement of the housing stock, housing tenure change from renting to owning, price rises and the displacement or replacement of the working-class population by the new middle class.”

D.J. Rose home on Tarboro St.

 

To my way of thinking, playing the gentrification card is an excuse. The party line is if we fix roofs and put a new porch on – -why rents will go up and people will have to move, so the answer is to do nothing. Yet I am certain that if we ask the average ‘Joe’ in our at-risk areas, which they would prefer, an 18-million dollar garage and a hotel or money invested in fixing properties, making them safe, and decent to live in, saving our neighborhoods, would win.

 

 

I wish I could persuade the ‘at risk’ neighborhoods to look honestly at their councilman who discourage reinvestment in their Ward’s housing/neighborhoods because that will ultimately change their councilman’s constituency and that means votes. If our housing statistics are suppressed, it helps when applying for grant money. In the end, only the voters in each Ward can decide if after many years if anything has improved?  We have a full slate of candidates, and an opportunity to select the ones that can put self-interest aside. People ask me, how can I help?  How about a campaign donation?  “White money” is being disparaged as a tool to discredit an opposing candidate, but never mind about that. Everyone gains with new leadership that believes  A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats.

Stepheny saying, “Thank you for joining me on Main Street.”

 

Thank you for reading and following Main Street. I hope you will continue to do so. The writing brings me joy and keeps my head in gear. I can’t imagine my life now without the many bright, and interesting people I meet. I’m grateful to wonderful friends who have taken me in and shared Rocky Mount as it once was and is becoming. I continue to believe and clap my hands. I hope you will too.

Seeing the Beauty of Historic District West Haven Through Its Architecture – Part 1

“A place without meaning is no place to be.”
Wayne Gerard Trotman

I experienced a glorious early spring day on March 9, 2017, while driving through the Historic District of West Haven. I knew the weather was a gift to relish because it would not last. Entering into a quiet world, free of traffic, it allowed me to take photographs while standing in the road, yet I was only a mile west of downtown. I was accompanied by bird song celebrating the day. LISTEN.  The photo on the right is Wildwood Park that sits along Waverly and Rivera Drive where I stood to breathe in the warm sun and birdsong, definitely a Lenten blessing.

What one appreciates immediately about West Haven is its curvilinear streets, the first planned neighborhood in Rocky Mount to deviate from the usual grid system found in the other Historic Districts. Like the beads on a rosary, we touch each esteemed name associated with the creation of this idyllic twenty-five block area that reminds us how important beauty is to our lives. We remember John Wells, the local civic engineer who was the developer and realtor for the 211 acres of wooded property. (1928) The architects Thomas Herman of Wilson and Harry Harles of Rocky Mount and….drum roll please….local contractors D.J. Rose and Samuel Toler, who built homes in West Haven.

Come, educate your eye! Let’s look at two Colonial Revival style homes that will help you recognize this style when you see it.  Many of you are fortunate to know the stories and the people that call these lovely places home. I had to use my imagination. When writing about the homes pictured in this post, I thought of the 1950’s  and the clothes that were worn, the music listened to, and the cars people drove. One doesn’t need the personal details of these homes to fall in love with these architectural treasures in yet another historic district of Rocky Mount. Whether it is a shotgun house, a bungalow, or a Colonial Revival, our cup runneth over with architectural gems.

On the right is an example of a typical Colonial Revival style home found in West Haven. This is the 1951 Robert Walker House at 515 Piedmont Avenue.  This two-story, brick house has a symmetrical three-bay facade with a recessed entrance with sidelights and side panels and a segmental arched wood transom over the door. Note the house is balanced by exterior end chimneys on the side elevations along with one-story wings on each end.

Here is a frame version of the Colonial Revival Style, the 1950 Edgar Joyner House at 322 Piedmont Avenue. A two-story, side gable house with beaded weatherboard siding with typical Revival style details that include dentils at the cornice, a symmetrical three-bay facade, and a pedimented portico supported classical columns. A one-story addition includes a side sun porch.

TOMORROW: Seeing the Beauty of West Haven through its Architecture – Part 2