Preservation – Rocky Mount’s Historic Downtown Area Part 1 -May and Gorham Building

Be sure to look up
SFH Photograph – May Gorham Building

 “We want cities to understand that historic buildings are a resource…. figure out how to restore and reuse them and keep them in active service for their community.”

National Trust president – Stephanie K. Meeks

        Preservation Rocky Mount Organization Visits the May Gorham Building

Steve Bullock Photograph
A Steve Bullock Photograph
Steve Bullock Photograph
A Steve Bullock Photograph

A new generation is embracing the diversity, historic character, and less car-centric lifestyle that a city provides. By turning old buildings into new places to live, preservation encourages healthier, more sustainable lifestyles, where people can walk or bike to stores, restaurants, and work. Using existing structures to house new businesses helps create jobs and spurs economic growth. The Revitalization taking place in our community embraces these concepts.

Stepping through the door of May & Gorham Drug Store, I gasped, followed by a “Wow!” It was my first time to view the interior of the building that D. J. Rose constructed; a two-story brick commercial building for Reading D. Bullock and John D. Bullock in 1904 and enlarged in 1906 in the same style. The building was originally known as “Five Points Drug Store” due to its location at the intersection of Tarboro, Washington, and Rose Streets. Architects, doctors, dentists, and other professionals rented second-floor office space in the Bullock Building. With its intact interior it is one of eastern North Carolina’s best examples of a turn-of-the-century drugstore. These are the facts of the matter, but listening to people as they talked about their memories when they visited the store, sitting at the soda fountain, this is the magic of the place.

                              Join me next time for Preservation Part 2 – The People’s Bank

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Mr. Charles Grimes at Home in a D.J. Rose house


“No friendship is an accident. ”  O. Henry, Heart of the West

Driving slowly down the 1200 block of Sunset Avenue, I spotted a couple standing on their front porch. Hopefully they could help me. Though they knew nothing about D.J. Rose, they assured me that Mr. Grimes, living next door, was the one to ask.  Now I have a new friend. We’ve even had a date at the Prime Smokehouse where he had never been. (He loved it.)


In 2002, Mr. Charles Grimes bought what is called the Rosenbloom-Feurst House that D.J. Rose built in 1922 for Jacob Rosenbloom, the man who established the large department store on Main Street, Rosenbloom-Levy Company.  Mr. Grimes says he is 88 years old, but he neither looks nor acts it. Other than rehabbing a broken hip that has taken the zip out of his step, he remains interested in a mired of things, his books, an extensive collection of National Geographic magazine, collages he makes from a stamp collection and clay African masks that he creates and sells. He spent 65 years as a professional performing actor, writer , director, and his passion, building sets. He is taking care of this wonderful home as best he can, but needs help now to do so, which weighs on his mind. I would love to get Mr. Grimes some help so this Rose home can live on.

It is an “if only” situation for me because I know nothing about finding money for historic preservation, or fixing the roof, but I’m willing to learn. Someone will need to hold the ladder! There must be folks who wouldn’t charge to put shutters back on aren’t there? If there isn’t an organization called Helping Seniors, a branch of Habitat, there should be. I’d start one, but I would need one more day in the week. Besides, Mr. Grimes needs some help with his D.J. Rose home sooner rather than later. Here is a prime example of why a D.J. Rose ‘society’ could help with the preservation of these homes. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to leave information about other Rose homes OR if you can suggest some help for Mr. Grimes. Thank you!IMG_4107IMG_4116IMG_4106


So far, no one has sent me any good news about a Rose house. I have two more on my radar, already taken some exterior photos, but need to knock on the doors before I can write more. If you love architecture, as I do, I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts on D.J. Rose. There is a wonderful PS: to this story about Mr.Grimes. After we took a trip to Nash Arts, look what has happened.

 FYI: The Nash County Arts Council is seeking African American women to audition for our February production of Ramona King’s “Steal Away,” directed by Charles Grimes. Auditions have not yet been scheduled and, by Mr. Grimes’ request, interested parties should call Shelly Gray (Nash Arts Director) at 252-459-4734.  I’ll keep you posted so you can attend one of the performances.


Down the Road A Piece – Another D.J. Rose Residence


In Kentucky there is a saying I learned while at University. The last line written in some directions to a party said, “Turn right. The house is down the road a piece.” It was one of many new colloquialisms a girl from Evanston, IL. would learn after arriving in Lexington. One of my favorites came when a young man asked, “Can I carry you downtown?” PS: While at UK I learned to read a racing form and it seemed there was fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans every Sunday for four years and, of course, Adolf Rupp basketball!

West Mount, NC is down the road apiece from Rocky Mount. There you will find another home built by contractors Rose and Batchelor in 1926. The bungalow style has a gable roof with a large shed dormer and there is a porte-cochere. It is referred to as the Frank W. Langley House, who was a local merchant. There is a wonderful black and white photo of the home on page 221 in The History and Architecture of Nash County North Carolina, the book I want you to buy for yourself. Today, Ruff Creech, splendid organist at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, is taking care of the house. A man with a vast knowledge of architecture, antiques, preservation and local stories. He indulges me with his friendship and generosity to TALK. This house has the Rose Crown moldings, my favorite…another breakfast room, and generous sized public rooms. Please help find any other home that D.J. Rose built. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to leave information. I invite you to FOLLOW the blog so you won’t miss future subjects.



Looking for D.J. Rose Homes – A Gem on Tarborro Street


“I could go to a dozen houses, scrape away the dirt, and find his footprints…”
Brenda Sutton Rose (no relation)

We’ve all admired residential architecture while driving slowly down a tree lined street. We may remember who once lived in the beautiful homes along the way. Perhaps we think, what might life be like if I walked through one of these front doors and called it  home! Rocky Mount’s historic districts are filled with an amazing inventory of architecture. I have written earlier on this blog about the Edgemont District; a neighborhood adjacent to the downtown historic core area. There is a D.J. Rose home on Tarboro Street that is another fabulous example of his workmanship. In the National Register of Historic Places the house is referred to as the Bullock-Lea House, a large, elegant period reproduction of early Colonial architecture. It was built between 1925-1930. The two-story brick house sits in the middle of two lots and is surrounded by a low brick wall. Many of you have spent enjoyable hours with Jean Bailey and her family in this special home. The house is for sale and awaits the next caretaker to love and honor its history. Five bedrooms and spacious downstairs public rooms make it perfect for a Bread & Breakfast if someone has owning and running a B&B on their Bucket List.

Here are a few interior photographs of the house that only hint at what this well designed and welcoming home reveals. In forming a D.J. Rose ‘society’ (with a better name) we must find the missing houses in addition to this distinctive Tarboro Street home.

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 The Crown Molding in a Rose Home is spectacular




Read Previous Posts: Edgemont-A Jewel in Rocky Mount’s Crown Part I

Please Scroll Down to Bottom of This Post                                                                                   Leave Information about any Rose Home You Know About                                            Thanks!

The Home D.J. Rose Built For His Family – Sunset Ave


“Old houses are filled with memories, with the faded echoes of voices. Drops of tears,      the ring of laughter, the edge of tempers that over the years have seeped into the walls. These houses carry in their wood and stone, their brick and mortar a kind of ego that is nearly human.”
A SFH edited quote by Nora Roberts, Key of Knowledge

I have our son-in-law, George Greer, Rector of St. Andrews, and daughter, Claire Greer, to thank for a great book I borrowed and now have no intention of giving back. Don’t tell them. If you don’t own a copy of The History and Architecture of Nash County NC by Richard L. Mattson you should treat yourself. You can buy a copy at the Preservation Rocky Mount store. My copy is beginning to look like an Anglican Choir Boy with all the post-a-notes sticking up like ruffles. Some of the notes mark information on D.J. Rose.


Matt Quarrels and Dean Fisher are the proud owners of the home that D.J. Rose built on Sunset for his family; perfect caretakers with their deep love of architecture, preservation, gardening and the history of this particular house.  My ‘borrowed’ book tells me that the house was built about 1912. It is a two story, hip-roofed design that was popular in Rocky Mount in that era. I have tried to capture some of the exterior details in the photograph included here. The house is an outstanding example of the meticulous work found on both the exterior and interiors of a D.J. Rose home. I will let the photos speak for themselves, with this additional thought….We need to locate as many of the Rose homes as possible. Please help by using your contacts and historical acumen to find them. D.J. Rose and these beautiful architectural structures are stars in the Rocky Mount crown. We must not loose sight of them! Scroll down to the bottom of this post to leave any information you can add to the search. Thanks!