‘Main Street’ Belongs to All of Us -Another Program Idea For The Restoration of Main Street’s Facades – Part 3

I have sought out Amy Facca again who is a historic preservation planner, architectural historian, and grant writer with a strong interest in economic development. In Oct. 2013 she wrote an informative piece about various emerging facade improvement programs that benefit communities. These are incentive programs created to encourage the restoration of the exterior appearance of buildings and storefronts. Improvements like masonry repairs & pointing; facade painting, repair, reconstruction or replacement of historic features; awnings, signage and exterior lighting, gutters, and downspouts; window & door repair or replacement.


Her photos in this article are of Hamilton NY facades before and after to illustrate what can be done.

This pair of commercial buildings were updated with a new color, including a new cornice, siding, windows, doors, awning and detailing.


Improvements in the building below included replacing unsightly signage, a new paint scheme highlighting the building’s historic character, a new cornice for the roof gable. The dark paint was used to make non-historic building elements (the garage door) less obvious.

The brick masonry facade of the Nicois-Beal building was cleaned. They painted the turret cornice to minimize attention drawn to the modern window elements in the storefront and upper floors and used a new awning to help conceal the modern, non-historic aluminum windows in the storefront.  We all know the saying,

“Where there is a will there is a way!”

 San Diego named their program “Focus on Downtown. They go on to state, “The program is designed to assist property and business owners in rehabilitating the commercial facades of their properties for the purpose of creating a positive visual impact, stimulating private investment, and complementing other community development efforts.”

We would look to federal and state grants for community and economic development, housing, and downtown revitalization; and municipal revenue. The key question is– Is this possible with our current leadership? These programs are usually developed and managed by the municipality’s planning, community development, economic development office, a Main Street organization, those interested in civic improvements. Obviously, this calls for coordination and cooperation.

Please leave your constructive comments below for saving Main Street. Let’s collaborate here on Mainstreetrockymount, and I’ll put together our suggestions along with a message to the City Council that in part says, “With your leadership, we want to save Main Street. Champion this endeavor or step aside and let those who will lead in this matter…lead!”

Here is our Main Street Rocky Mount – Use your imagination and apply the ‘before and after’ treatment to our wonderful commercial buildings,  one building at a time.

Company is Coming! Thoughts About The City Council and Our Downtown

   “You cannot score a goal when you are sitting on the bench. To do so,                                  you have to dress up and enter the game.”

I would never want the positive attitude of this blog to change.  I am, after all, a Pollyanna at heart: everything is beautiful, in its own way. But this quotation has caught my attention and I have taken it seriously. Though this post may be viewed as controversial, I hope you agree that we can talk about problems from time to time. Let’s begin by acknowledging that everyone who grew up in and around Rocky Mount has a story to tell about their memories of going downtown with Grandma to pick up her prescriptions, or buying ‘back to school clothes’ at Belks or having a soda at the drugstore. That was then.

I have thought about Main Street and the Event Center like a brand new sparkling red barn sitting adjacent to a faded, neglected farmhouse. Something seems bass-ackward about this scene in spite of the barns usefulness and addition to the community. With the opening of the barn doors, we have company coming to town. Looking at Main Street through the eyes of these strangers, I say, “Lordy, Lordy, what are they going to think of us with so many of our downtown commercial buildings looking awful? We have SO MUCH to be proud of, but will our guests see the beautifully restored Train Station, Bus Station, Imperial Center, the Douglas Block, and Streetscape or understand the investment and creativity that is at work at The Mill, and in our new downtown businesses? Or, will they take home the picture of Main Street with many peeling facades, boarded up, with broken glass and vegetation growing out of cracks in the bricks?

We like to blame others for the neglected farmhouse, but the truth is, it’s all of our faults put together! We have allowed our leadership to remain in place year after year who won’t enforce codes or make policies, to keep our beautiful commercial buildings and historic neighborhoods from further deterioration.  We seem so hesitant to demand what as taxpayers we should expect. It reminds me of Harry Potter and The One Who Shall Not Be Named syndrome.

Often our efforts with the City Council, when criticized or questioned, get derailed by derogatory name-calling: telling someone they are a racist seems to work well. This appears to be the fallback accusation when the state of things are brought to the attention of the Council who can offer no justification for why Main Street languishes. I would say the word  ‘ticked’ comes to mind when we learned that the taxpayers have just paid thousands of dollars to send newly hired people off for training. We look at each other and ask, “Why are we not hiring people in the first place that come to us with the appropriate educational background and laudable credentials that make them ready to ‘have at it’ on day one?” What leadership, with our best interests in mind, keeps spending thousands of dollars on parades rather than using that money to start stabilizing facades along Main Street or fix a block of houses in terrible disrepair? We don’t need more low-income housing, we need to clean up and save what we have and turn neglected homes into neighborhoods to be proud of again.

We don’t expect or want city government to fix everything, but we need leadership to care more for the city than a tightly guarded power base, we the taxpayers, are continually having to quarrel with. It is not fair to suggest, and I’m not, that nothing good has been accomplished, but honestly, folks, since no one is irreplaceable, term limits should be put on the ballot. After all, if something like a 3 term limit of say 2 years each isn’t enough time to accomplish the job,  you get what we’ve got.


I would love to read your comments left below.

Celebrating the 1 Year Anniversary of the Launch of Main Street Rocky Mount 7-22-15-16

Stepheny Houghtlin Launches Main Street Rocky Mount Blog

I invite you to FOLLOW a blog with an attitude.

Republishing the opening post in celebration of the 1 year anniversary of this blog. THANK YOU everyone who is now following and leaving interesting comments. I’ve spent time with fabulous people, listened to wonderful stories and am having so much fun! I hope the blog has brought you pleasure and will continue to do so. Someone said to me who follows the blog, “Stepheny, I’m excited again because you are excited!” The following is the opening ‘Main Street’ introduction.

A doctor will tell you they don’t know why attitude is important in getting well, they only know that it is.  A positive attitude is paramount in the day to day efforts of building the future here in Rocky Mount, NC.  The on going creative process is taking time and patience, but we keep our eye on the prize.  We might not always agree on how to get to where we want to go, but no idea is dumb, no suggested wasted, as a vision unfolds and one piece at a time falls in place.  One thing is for certain, negativity, like repeating old crime statistics that are actually trending in the right direction, is tantamount to shooting ourselves in the foot and has to stop.

In launching this new blog, I hope to make an enthusiastic contribution to the new chapters that are being written about this place we call home.  The theme of this site is Honoring the Past, Building a Future. I will be writing about places and people, past and present, places like The Rocky Mount Mills and Historic District that are pearls of great price in our midst.  I invite you to come and stand with me on Carr Street and listen once again to the echo of children’s laughter, and to the sound of the katydids in the trees. Do you know what a ghost sign is? You soon will. Come downtown to Virginia’s to shop for a great looking women’s jacket, to The Bath Place for lavender soap, to The Smokehouse for the best scallops ever. We will visit places like The Farmers Market and The Artisan Center. In preparation for this launch, I’ve spent time with wonderful people: Polly Warner, Peggy Daughtridge, Evan Chavez and John Mebane, John Jesso and Russell Wooten and Sheila Martin are but a few of the amazing folks I will be writing about.

I was once told, “Stepheny, we all have a part in the chorus.”  I see my part in this Rocky Mount production as part story teller, part cheer leader. I know there is room on stage for everyone, no auditions necessary, but do speak the lines you have been given with an attitude that adds to the long run of the show.

Plan an Outing With Friends – Downtown Rocky Mount, NC


Click on the Follow button and join me on Main Street 

We’re never too old to invite friends to come out to play on a fine summer day, which is what I did not long ago. Truth be told, my playmates hadn’t been downtown Rocky Mount for a while. They noticed right away how great Main Street looks; a streetscape that has settled in, is growing and attractive.


Stepheny and Ginny

Our first stop was Virginia’s Dress Shop, 164 W. Main Street, owed by Ginny Davis. Perhaps some of you knew her mother, who ran the shop for years. The shop is a nostalgic mix of half slips and beautiful silky night gowns and WOW jackets with reversible linings. If you are looking for a special occasion dress, this is one of Virginia’s specialties. There are a lot of new women in town; go meet Ginny and her nice staff. Haven’t been to Virginia’s for a while? We had a wonderful time and left with some lovely things. You will too.


Jan, Mary Ruth, Sarah Katherine and Stepheny with our purchases

Our next stop was The Bath Place, 205 NE Main Street.  Kimberly Thigpen left the banking world to open a business in the Douglas Block in Rocky Mount and sells handmade, all-natural soaps, lotions, scrubs and other beauty and health products. Like children in a candy shop, faced with so many choices, we had fun deciding on the right scent and the right product. Selecting only one fragrance proved impossible while buying for ourselves and selecting gifts for others. One of my personal mottos rings true at The Bath Place,  if one is good, two is better. These happy faces tell the tale.


We headed to The Prime Smokehouse, 207 E. Thomas Street, for lunch. Always a friendly place, a comfortable atmosphere, the food is great. The Shrimp & Grits appetizer with a cup of tomato basil soup, and the crab cake sandwich with collards are all delicious. I ordered a perfect glass of SWEET tea to top off our summer play day.

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