Hall of Fame Inductee – Lynell Bynum – The Legacy of a Grandson

Mt. & Mrs. Chris Falk

The day I sat across the table at the Central Cafe from Chris Falk, Lynell Bynum’s grandson, I felt teary. (You know how I am.) This handsome, young man, articulate, bright, whose company I was keeping for a few hours, is one of the richest legacies his grandfather has left us. In a few days, Lynell Bynum will be inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame. His grandson will be accepting the award on behalf of his grandfather and the family. Chris is an example of why I keep saying, one thing leads to another. First, it was Ben Braddock, along with his partner, who bought Station Square; Ben asked me to research and write about Mr. Bynum. A few years later from my seat on the Hall of Fame board, I am introducing Chris the night of the event. The tears I hid at the Central Cafe were on behalf of his grandfather who would be amazed and proud of this young man. Chris, who shares many of the same interests and passions with his grandfather, wanted to talk about ‘Main Street,” preservation and his love of Rocky Mount.

I remind you that Lynell Bynum along with Errol Warren, a local architect, and Sandy Bulman of Bulman-Frazier Design Studio in Raleigh, together redeveloped an entire city block into a modern shopping center and office space. When it was all said and done, the Station Square project, named for the railroad station next door became the gold standard on how private and public partnerships can develop projects together within the community. Mr. Bynum took basic commercial structures, some in dreadful condition, and restored them with sensitivity to their glory days. Today, Ben Braddock, one of the modern-day ‘repairers of the breach’ has brought to Rocky Mount his passion, his determination, his unique skill set, his financial where with all and his role in finding new investors and owners to help save our commercial structures as Mr. Bynum once did.

The summer I left for college, my mother asked a question. “If something happened to me, would you be okay?” I answered, “Yes, I thought so.” My mother smiled. “You hope you have given your child enough to be going on with.” I think of that conversation and apply it to Chris Falk.  I have whispered to Mr. Bynum, that Chris, who now has a family of his own, has indeed ‘gone on’ in a fine way.

We all wonder from time to time, what might be remembered of us? I hope those I love will hear a song that makes them think of me or recognize the fragrance of the perfume I have always worn. Perhaps they will read what I have written. Mr.Bynum could not have imagined that there would come a day when he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame and that his grandson would stand in his place to accept the award. Mr. Bynum is remembered for his contributions to the life and times of Rocky Mount. Perhaps we too will have someone coming after us who shares our interests and passions and is carrying on in our place. Wouldn’t that be lovely!

 

Telling The Station Square Story – Mr. Lynell Bynum -Part 1

Why would Mr. Lynell Bynum, (1924-2002) decide in the early 1970’s to buy up an entire block of buildings in downtown Rocky Mount NC? How is this connected to real estate investor and general contractor, Ben Braddock, and his business partner, who have purchased from Chambliss and Rabil Commercial Reality, Station Square, a 65,000 square foot facility.

We have before us men whose names are now allied: Lynell Bynum, the creator of Station Square and Ben Braddock, who like a long-distance runner in a relay race has already taken off down the track, the baton firmly in his grasp. He has turned towards the new possibilities of Station Square. I hope you will help line the sidewalks to cheer him on in his endeavors. 

Go and see for yourself the new opportunities there are to shop, soon to eat, and where there is impressive space for your business. On the right: Station Square freshly painted. It’s fabulous. We will have the opportunity to talk further with Ben, but what about Mr. Bynum?

Knowing Mr. Bynum could have spent his considerable dollars on anything, why on a bunch of old buildings he restored and connected, giving them a new purpose in downtown Rocky Mount? I’m certain Mr. Bynum would be leading the charge for the revitalization of downtown Rocky Mount today. Ahead of his time, he believed in the preservation and the restoration of commercial architecture for new purposes.

To understand Mr. Bynum, we need a context in which to place him and we can find answers amongst The Greatest Generation at the end of WWII. Lynell belonged to the Army Air Corp and flew B24’s. He was 18 years old in 1942 having experienced the great depression. (1929-1941) This becomes significant to our story in remembering that there is a common theme for the great generation which was self-sacrifice.

They’d experienced the harsh economic realities of the depression, seen the worst there was to see during the war and came home having developed values of personal responsibility, duty, honor, and faith. Tom Brokaw writes that these characteristics helped them to defeat Hitler, build the American economy, give succeeding generations the opportunity to accumulate great economic wealth, political power, and the freedom from foreign oppression to make whatever choices they liked.

When we speak of Lynell Bynum, there is a litany of American values that explain why he would invest in a place called home that subsequently benefited from his leadership, values and his determination to make a contribution in Rocky Mount. Mr. Bynum reminds us of what we must not forget, which seem under threat…..words to live by….. personal responsibility, accountability, a strong work ethic, the ability to be self-sufficient/reliant, the capacity for loyalty, courage, honor, a sense of duty and unabashed patriotism along with a strong sense of gratitude, pride in accomplishments, all with quiet humility. We thank Mr. Bynum for reminding us of the under-pinning of his life and for his contributions.

Next time: Mr. Bynum’s partners with the City of Rocky Mount.

 

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