D.J. Rose – Leading Character in the Rocky Mount Story With An Invitation – Part 3

Scan 1Another spring unfolds, days warm, flowering trees unfurl and catch us by surprise when glimpsed through the garden. Something happens to us this time of year; a longing for things past. We close our eyes and remember moments we would like to experience again. Perhaps sitting beside one of our parents listening to them read aloud, or a time when we were teenagers waiting for our first kiss. Whatever this nostalgic time-traveling is about, it  has to do with younger days, when we played with the neighborhood kids, caught fireflies in a jar, spent the night with a grandmother who baked the best chocolate cake in the Mill Village. We would like to walk along the Main Street of our youth, filled with cars, people shopping, meeting and greeting one another. We would like to stop and wave at the train as it goes by. We wish family and friends were still alive to answer the questions we now have for them. If only we could spend time with D.J. Rose, the leading character in the story I’ve been telling you. Think of what we would learn from this young man, who over time made a lasting contribution to Rocky Mount. The future that is being reimagined today is partially built upon the architectural assets he and his company contributed to this sense of place.

I believe Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, is right when he wrote: “Old buildings whisper to us in the creaking of floorboards and rattling of windowpanes.” Listen for Mr. Rose’s whisper when you think of 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 contracting firm D. J. Rose and Son Inc., based in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, has donated a major collection of historic architectural drawings and other documents to the North Carolina State University Libraries, which forms the basis for the presentation on the 29th. Here is an opportunity to keep company with D.J. Rose once again in the whispering of these drawings. Use your imagination…slip into a seat beside him for a lovely evening honoring his work. th


See you there, I’ll save you a seat!


Have You Weighed In On This Idea? Reposting: ‘Adopt’ A Storefront on Main Street

In writing a second novel, Facing East, the house where I grew up in Evanston, IL. plays a part. The main character, Katherine White, wonders if a house retains the collective memories of those who have lived there. What do you think? Do you believe as I do that not only houses, but the wonderful old buildings along Main Street have kept their memories? I maintain that nothing has been lost as we continue to honor the people that started and grew their businesses downtown by hard work and perseverance. We can cherish the memories contained in these old buildings, remember their heyday, while turning our attention to the possibilities of their next incarnations.

I know you’re saying, “Stepheny, do you realize the amount of money it takes an investor to buy one of these buildings, regardless of the fact that it is one of the architectural gems you seem to see everywhere?” From one who has trouble balancing a check book, the truth is that I’m no good with the money end of things so perhaps I don’t understand, BUT I believe in the revitalization of the Rocky Mount Main Street area with enthusiasm and faith. I have an idea, and together, I hope we can flush it out. It is a way to draw attention to these buildings that are a Rocky Mount asset.

If we can adopt a highway, why can’t we adopt a storefront in downtown Main Street? Let’s have a social media creative think tank where no idea is too big, wrong, silly. (We’ll have a reality check on what is really possible after we gather the ideas.) Could we get various organizations and churches, even families to adopt a storefront; wash a window, clean up the space? What about displaying a vignette that supports your cause? Might the high school art students get involved creating mixed media to represent the interests of the youth of the community? Should we turn an empty storefront into a tribute to the history of the building…the grocery, the hat maker that it once was? Do the storefronts become a history walk or an imaginative presentation of  the vast amount of community outreach the various groups of Rocky Mount are involved in? What shall we showcase along the way? What kind of an event can we have to bring people down to see the formal unveiling of these adopted storefronts?

I don’t want to hear, “BUT Stepheny…..” Habitat puts sweat equity into their projects. When the community shows their support for the Main Street Rocky Mount area and the businesses that are there and more that are coming, it says we care about the future. We will be replaced by the financial equity of the various investors that see the demonstrative support of the community.

How do you envision an adopt a storefront effort? We have absent owners, we need permission, keys, and, and, and….but that can happen once we have a plan to sweet talk these people into letting us adopt their storefront windows. We need to bring more people downtown to fall in love again with these wonderful buildings that are waiting to be useful. The concept of community sweat equity will clean up these store fronts and say we care. Leave your ideas below in the comment section, e-mail me at sfhoughtlin@aol.com, leave a private message on my Facebook page, but think about it. Allow yourself to believe in the new life of ‘these once upon a time’ buildings that are coming alive one building at a time. Let’s do something to help all those who are working hard to reimagine the future.

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Think of the potential of using these windows in an adopt a storefront/building effort.

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