You already know that Howard Street is always on my radar screen. It suits my imagination to a tee because of its location, tucked away like your grandmother’s antique ring in a satin ring box. In the light it sparkles and greatly admired. Troy White is the wind under the sails of the two buildings being restored and repurposed; the rendering of the outcome in the lead photo. The alley-like passageway down Howard Street still lacks a continuity. Continuing the methaphor, as you walk the block, it is like costume jewelry thrown in a box, a little of this and that. When these two buildings are complete, the energy and inspiration they will reflect, becomes a template for success. Move to Howard Street, create a business, shine up what you have. As a Howard Street cheerleader, I say, give me a P, give me a R, give me a I, give me a D, give me a E. Thanks!
I hope by now you agree that preservation is art. I’m grateful when it presents itself. Here, the sun shines through the upper framing. I believe this light will remain within this building as a new life emerges for both buildings. I still haven’t met Troy White but when I do, I will hug him for all of us for this investment on Howard Street and his heart that believes in preservation, restoration and repurposing. I am thankful he is doing these things here.
PS: Two large containers filled with seasonal flowers at each end of the street, would be a nice invitation to stroll, perhaps meet a few of the lucky neighbors that live along this special street. I also think box containers filled with herbs placed here and there would contribute to this neighborhood’s charm. Flowers, outdoor seating where neighbors could enjoy being outside. Possibilities, that’s what this street is full of.
Originally, tossing a coin in the fountain was supposed to ensure good health. The meaning evolved. People believed that the dwellers of a well would grant them their wish if they threw a lucky coin to pay a price. The tradition of dropping pennies in ponds and fountains stems from this. While growing up, most of us put coins in a piggy bank, either breaking it open or pulling a plastic plug in it’s belly to remove the coins when needed. I have a grown-up piggy bank; a red tin English phone box that came with candy inside.
“What’s this about Stepheny?”
“Whitaker’s NC Preservation group had a spaghetti fund raiser this past fall on a Sat. It cost $7.00. I have a soft spot in my heart for this group. They asked me to come and speak when they were getting started. You couldn’t help but love them with their dreams, hopes, and plans to save their ‘Main Street.’ I decided I would save quarters from the day I read about the event until the day I got in my car to drive to Whitakers. I had $20.00 to take with me.”
I hope you read the last blog post about the updated version of PRM. If not, please do. I invite you to start throwing coins in a Preservation Rocky Mount mason jar. I only saved $20.00 in my tin bank by the day of the Whitakers preservation fundraiser. Not much, but we all know every little bit helps. I don’t know the exact fundraising project that we will need your mason jar for, I only know it will be welcomed at the right time. I know the project will be worthwhile and you will want to help. The new board will be voted upon on January 25 at a 6:00 Zoom member’s meeting. I’ll be providing a link for the 1/2 hour meeting when it becomes available. In the mean time, if you hear someone humming in your ear, Three Coins in a Fountain, that will be me.
“To retain the architectural heritage, neighborhood character, and historic landscapes of the Rocky Mount, North Carolina area through collaboration, education, advocacy, and restoration.” — Preservation Rocky Mount Mission
I am standing at your door like the long ago encyclopedia salesman. I want to sell you the upgraded version of the organization – Preservation Rocky Mount. Even if you have no idea what PRM is about, invite me in. I hope to interest you in joining PRM with new leadership, and talented new board members who join the five returning members. The result of the suspension of meetings this past year is this: There will be a new agenda of accomplishments that are tangible, with a meaningful impact on the historic sites/structures in Rocky Mount.
Preservation is a big deal. The language that is used in my reading is repeated here to say that preservation includes the strengthening of local economics, the stabilization of property values, the fostering of civic beauty and community pride, and the appreciation of local and national history. Historic preservation safeguards a community’s heritage, making it available to future generations for civic enjoyment and educational activities. Historic preservation improves business opportunities. It has both public and private benefits.
The new leadership and board bring experience, their reputations, and career goals, their hands on preservation efforts, to the aspects of preservation listed above. Those of you from real estate, business, and financial sectors, small business, new businesses, please join and add your voice and expertise necessary to rebuild PRM into a organization known for its successful preservation efforts. Everyone who reads this blog post, please share; This can be your part to sing in the chorus.
Many of you were born and raised here and you remember the bustling downtown, riding your bikes everywhere, playing in the neighborhood, helping neighbors. You knew the names of the people living in most of the homes. Preserving these stories, saving the significant architectural inventory of residential and commercial buildings are key to the revitalization of Rocky Mount. If you doubt me, drive to Goldsboro or New Bern, or Elizabeth City to see the results of preservation, restoration and repurposing.
Rocky Mount has a great story, a sense of place that must be protected. We need all of you to join PRM to lend your experience, brains, voice, passion, and the special interests you bring to this endeavor. You know the saying, many hands make light work, well, in this case, many hands bring financial support through memberships and towards fundraising for projects that will be undertaken. The greatest currency is your name on the membership list signifying a presence in the new preservation efforts.
PRM has a new face, agenda, and focus on moving ahead. Past members will be invigorated with these new officers and board, who will meet for the first time by zoom in February. They are ready to reconnect with members of the past and welcome all new preservationists to this non-profit organization. A further explanation of the new direction will follow that meeting.
I will provide the link, when available, for you to join a 1/2 hr ZOOM membership meeting, January 25 at 6:00PM. At that time the officers and board will be voted on. Further details will be included with the zoom link.
Membership in Preservation Rocky Mount is open to anyone interested in preservation of the community’s historic resources. We have a number of membership levels. Mailing Address: 301 South Church St., Suite 126 Rocky Mount, NC 27804 When joining, include your name, mailing address, phone and most important, your e-mail addressto save money on stamps. Feel free to add a contribution with your dues if your discretionary fund allows. Thank You!
Student $10.00 Single $20.00 Couple $30.00 Corporate $50.00 Sustaining $100.00 Benefactor $500.00 and up
I tend to romanticize things on Main Street…..I offer no apology. This tendency explains how I came to believe there is a Band of Brothers changing the scene in historic downtown. I love meeting and writing about individuals from various walks of life and backgrounds investing their time and resources. It is these people saving and repurposing Rocky Mount’s commercial architecture who provide a necessary economic driver.
When Troy White’s building came tumbling down in an 80 mile an hour wind, it felt like someone slapped me upside the head with some of the comments left on Concerned Citizens; a group of important voices who try to serve as watchmen on the tower. While reading, I thought, “Wait a minute, this isn’t right!” What happened to ’We few, we happy few, we band of brothers?’ -from a speech in Shakespeare’s Henry V.
The King proclaims….But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother…
As fate would have it, Troy and the team arrived an hour before the storm hit. They were there to assess the next steps in bringing the building back to life. Engineers were involved with the necessary procedures to save the building. Then the wind took the structure into its own hands. Troy White, has already demonstrated how vested he is in the mission of saving downtown’s future. He could have used some support that at least said, “Your loss is our loss.” For the record, Mr. White paid for any and all clean up that was necessary. There are now design plans in the works for a new building, which will be sensitive to the continuity of the historic downtown setting.
When we lost this building, I was certain of the downtown Band of Brothers. They would offer help. Maybe drop water bottles off because of the heat. They would bring encouragement with their ‘one for all’ attitude, perhaps bring a push broom or shovel? With little, if any, sign of these Brothers, coupled with the comments that followed, we are damn lucky Troy White didn’t give us the famous Duke basketball gesture when opponents foul out – – SEE YA
This ‘all for one’ attitude is imperative. Everyone who is involved in creating the new emerging downtown scene deserves respect and shall have a turn leading the Main Street Parade. If you doubt the necessity of this investment money, think about the majority vote on the City Council who have served 20 years or more. Under their watch, statistics show a decline in homeownership, a loss of jobs, higher crime, and commercial and residential housing boarded up and deteriorating.
We need individuals who are vested in the historic collection of architecture on Main Street, and beyond. The real issue behind the smokescreen-cry of racism, is the “My Will Be Done” agenda. Anyone that does not support this agenda will have to endure intimidation, the threat of losing a job, actually losing that job, or threats concerning their businesses. People are hired and fired according to their willingness to serve this agenda. It is no longer a carefully held secret. The names of the usual suspects are spoken every day. Should you need further evidence of what this so-called leadership has accomplished, go, and look at the shameful decline in the neighborhoods. It is obvious that nothing comes from nothing. It is new investment that is saving Main Street.
It may be a Chicago thing, but are you familiar with the expression, no tickey, no washey? There is an economic imperative at stake here. Vested individuals are essential. Those profiting from the “My Will” agenda have tried to sabotage the word investor. “These ‘carpetbaggers’ are taking away what belongs to us.” Don’t believe that for a moment. Instead, believe that all those vested in building a future for Rocky Mount deserve our thanks and prayers.
The “My will Agenda” is the real issue. The plan we already have, bought and paid for, doesn’t support “The Agenda,” so we need a new one. The Main Street program is dismissed for the same reason. Think about The Carlton House that was sabotaged for the sake of a new hotel and parking garage. Does anyone doubt that the usual people will line their pockets with that deal? The Band of Brothers faces this agenda every day. If these people would accept the notion that alone we can do so little, but together, accomplish so much. it is a reality that should be embraced. We need black and white-owned businesses scattered throughout the historic downtown. Together, the obstacles that the agenda mandates can be addressed.
Erwin Wilde came home to Machaven last night. A house built in 1907-1908 for her grandmother, and James Hines, her grandfather, a leading businessman, civic leader. H.P.S. Keller was the architect for the 2 1/2-story, Classical Revival style brick dwelling with a slate-covered hipped roof. With five interior chimneys, a pedimented portico with Doric columns, and a full-width one-story porch, Machaven stands on a half-acre plot surrounded by a 1930’s Flemish-bond wall. Machaven is to be found at 306 S. Grace Street in the Villa Place Historic District.
You’re familiar with a sleeping pet who suddenly raises his or her head because they hear something, know something. Machaven was sitting quietly last night in the twilight expecting members and the board of Preservation Rocky Mount. In through the door, came a familiar voice, a known footstep. It was a little girl, who claims to be 83 years old who stood smiling. The house was instantly happy. This happiness went beyond its on-going restoration, lights and workman bringing a new purpose to Machaven. This happiness was the recognition of Erwin Wilde, who’s mother had been left the house when Mr. Hines died, who then raised her young children in the house before it became the City Club and important add-ons took place like an elevator.
Erwin is a living testament to what I know is true: age is only a number, an attitude, and can be a cause for celebration. Bright and funny, Erwin shared stories that endeared her to everyone, long time friend or new. She spoke of the 33 step staircase and the wallpaper in the dining room, though painted over, whose roses continue to bloom. They are slightly visible in a certain light, but plain to see in Erwin where ever she is.
I have a big imagination, but it was a privilege to hear about the conversations that took place around the dining room table, the room where we were gathered. Machaven is woven through the story of so many. Weddings, receptions, parties, white table cloth dining, being shooed off the wall by the maids in the house, or trick or treating at Halloween, the magnificent home that remembers it all. Being in Erwin’s company last night, to see her smile and laugh, old friends gathered around her, made me cry, of course. CLICK HERE: Erwin is one of the ‘prisms of light’ I wrote about to begin 2019. I can’t think of a better way to begin 2020! Scroll down to read comments.
I’m looking forward to this Members Only opportunity: People interested in the preservation of our architectural inventory will be gathering in this special place that is alive and well again. Machaven: A crown jewell in the community. You may join on line or at the event tonight to attend. #20.00 per year.
Tonight is the first Members Only Preservation Rocky Mount Meeting of 2020. The meeting is from 6 PM-8 PM. The location is The Historic MacHaven House at 306 S.Grace St., Rocky Mount, NC.
We encourage all members to attend this meeting, as this one sets the tone for the new year! If you are not a member, please visit our website at https://www.preservationrockymount.org/become-a-member and join. Membership opportunities will also be available tonight at this event.
All memberships are annual and offer loads of benefits that last all year. Single annual memberships are a one time fee of $20, and couples are $30.
Preservation Rocky Mount will be providing light refreshments.
Parking instructions are: On the Park Avenue side of the house you’ll see wrought iron gates leading to a driveway up to The Machaven. You can park there and it accommodates at least 10 cars. There is a grassy lot to the left of the wrought iron gates that can handle overflow as well as ample street parking.
“If you have eyes to see past the broken glass and boarded facades, if you look up as I do, you will see what I see. Commercial architecture holding the heartbeat and stories of Rocky Mount.” -Stepheny Houghtlin
This quote of mine is one approach to preservation. There are many avenues to pursue when considering what you are interested in. PRM had a meeting this past Wednesday, Feb 13th, which I led. No preservation was done! It was more like giving a sales pitch (for Saving Main Street) to a group of enthusiastic salesmen hoping to ignite their excitement and have them want to sell my product. Wonderful people were there; the best and the brightest as a matter of fact. We’ll talk more another time about connecting the dots from A– an interest to B – a plan to D- something gets done.
Wednesday night I was reminded of an AA story that says when someone gets up to give a talk at a meeting, they give three speeches…the one they prepared, the one they give, the one they revise on the way home. I was so busy with the sales pitch that there was no time to talk about the real matter at hand that not only effects Saving Main Street, but supports continued revitalization. This takes strong, honest city government that equates to good practices, a city government that does their job with competence and for the good of the taxpayers. There is no saving anything without that.
For the last three weeks, I have been involved with hundreds of others in what is called civic engagement. As hard as the Council has tried to deflect the issues at hand by bringing up extraneous topics, or pinning the public concerns on what was called a dark shadow, no one is having this kind of diversion anymore. Whether at home or from a seat at City Hall, we are now focused on what is germane, expecting good governance and an end to the long list of what has gone wrong. The plan the Mayor spelled out last week is not good enough. It is more messing about with a myriad of issues that must be taken care of to the satisfaction of the community.
The flag that I have planted says we need leadership that will provide the will, enforce the ordinances we have on the books, stabilize the facades, put first things first before expecting me to celebrate a new motel that has obviously taken precedence over Main Street – again. Why would we put another large project like this in the hands of the current Council and Management until complete order has been restored? Still, I believe we are closer to righting wrongs than before because of this groundswell of public engagement, and talk of new leadership running for seats on the Council. We need policies and procedures that safeguard us from any further graft and corruption and then Preservation will go forward. Plant your flag in the ground beside mine asking for a resolution so we can get on with getting on.
“You must learn how to extract things of value out of things that seem totally worthless.” Pastor Sunday
Preservation of our architectural assets needs a critical mass of people who are interested in having a voice in the matter. As a board member of Preservation Rocky Mount, I’m heading up a new Advocacy committee. I know many of you who read this blog have a great interest in the continuing revitalization efforts of Rocky Mount. PRM believes that together, we can do something important.
Make a note that on February, 13th, 6:00, Station Square, I’m leading a meeting. I want you to come! We are calling this meeting a Conversation Cafe. The seats will be arranged in a circle as opposed to a lecture style. I’ll set the tone for the meeting with my usual cheerleading pom poms, state a few ground rules so that all of you can chime in with your thoughts.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO SAVE MAIN STREET & ENVIRONS?
You don’t have to join Preservation Rocky Mount to come to the meeting, though I wish you would join because we need to strengthen our voice and demonstrate how important preservation and revitalization is to us. Preservation groups in other cities have worked hard and become an influential presence. Wouldn’t you love to be remembered as someone who helped secure our architectural inventory, our sense of place, and embraced preservation as an economic engine that helps build a future? I know I would.
Let’s help find a new will to carry on the great efforts of the Peter Varney years of preservation that we see at the Train Station, Bus Station, Imperial Center, Douglas Block, Streetscape and the fantastic things going on at the Mill, and more. At the moment we are dancing to the political music on all the airwaves, but Conversation Cafe Night won’t be playing that music.
Stepheny’s army is about hanging crystal prisms (Click Here) and looking at historic preservation as much more than preserving bricks and mortar. (Paul Miles – The Financial Times and Craig Potts – Kentucky Heritage Council have said much the same thing, but they say it exactly right.) Preservation recognizes that our built history connects us in tangible ways with our past and provides context for the places we occupy and the world we live in. It fuses art with craftsmanship. Reuse affords a sense of history and texture, taking advantage of buildings with atmosphere, history, and stories inscribed in their fabric. Sometimes sustainability isn’t just about energy and materials saved, but about the stories, craft and intelligence embodied in its walls. These words inform our advocacy. Come to the meeting and let us reason together. SFH
She sat on the porch and watched the moon rise. Soon its amber fluid drenched the earth and quenched the thirst of the day.
Zora Neale Hurston (edited SFH)
Throughout the South you find front porches tucked beneath deep overhangs. These open-air rooms continue to beckon family and friends where they gather to enjoy a cool breeze and some peace and quiet after a long day. You will discover porches throughout the historic Villa Place neighborhood. Preservation Rocky Mount and the City of Rocky Mount invite you to a two-day event to celebrate the history, architecture, and the wonderful people who live in Villa Place and preserve beautiful structures. You will find the Villa Place neighborhood is an investment opportunity and a place to call home.
Join the “kids” that grew up in Villa Place on Friday – Oct. 20th (7:00 -8:30)…at Braswell School for a free event. Rocking together on the ‘front porch,’ the following folks will be telling tales of Villa Place. There will be time to add a few of your stories as well.
Polly Reynolds Warner, Emma Lynn Bass Wheeler, Sarah Johnson Tripoili and her Mom, Pat Strange, Fred Tulloss and Johnny Brown will be remembering parents, neighbors, friends, the games they played, and more… plus their thoughts about Villa Place today.
Hopefully, the two-day event will help the community reconnect with our historic districts, beginning with Villa Place. PRM encourages the preservation, rehabilitation, or restoration of historic properties that are important to the revitalization of the area. Show your support for this interesting neighborhood by attending Villa Place Tales on Friday, Oct. 20th and the Home and Walking Tour on Oct. 21st. A community that takes pride in its history and an interest in the preservation of its architectural assets, not only reaps economic benefits but improves life for all its residents.
The Home & Walking Tour Begins at 320 S. Pearl St. on Saturday, Oct. 21st 1-4:00. Pick up your tour booklet and make a much appreciated $5.00 donation to help defray costs. I look forward to seeing you! Hey, bring some friends with you.
“You must learn how to extract things of value out of things that seem totally worthless.”
Pastor Adelaja Sunday
What the heck is the Preservation Architectural Salvage Store? It sells historic and reclaimed architectural features. Items are donated to the store and sold at a reduced and affordable price. Many items are sourced from homes slated for demolition to ensure that irreplaceable materials are preserved. Donations of architectural pieces to the Salvage Store are tax deductible and welcome. These are some of the facts but wait….
I often drive by Preservation Rocky Mount’s Architectural Salvage store on Falls Road. Since the signage isn’t overwhelming, you may not have noticed the place. Thanks to Margaret Sowerwine, who has the keys to the Kingdom, and is the wind under the wings of the store, I made my first visit. What a place!
To get you ready for this amazing place we must reaffirm our beliefs. When a baptism takes place in the Episcopal Church, there is a series of questions that the parents, godparents, and congregation answer…. Do you believe kind of questions? Please answer with gusto! Do you believe that salvaged architecture and building supplies sold at the Preservation Salvage Store are a quintessential element of the culture and history of Rocky Mount and Eastern NC? WE DO! That maintaining and protecting this significant part of the city’s heritage is the key foundation of the Preservation Salvage Store? WE DO! We believe that preserving a city’s architecture is tantamount to preserving its soul. We believe it is critical that we maintain our staunch defense of the city’s rich architectural legacy. We believe that people who love to tinker with things need this store when looking for bits and pieces. We believe the store is a perfect place to find garden ornamentation. We believe the store is the place to find a gift YOU WANT to give to your spouse!
Below you find Heart Pine flooring, doors of all sizes and shapes, mantle surrounds, tile, shutters, window frames with and without glass. light fixtures, and much more. Please visit: Preservation Rocky Mount Website which includes important Salvage Store information.
Store Hours Friday & Saturday 10:00-12:00 or by appt. 252-985-1804
Tomorrow – Ideas for recycled old salvage windows available at PRM Salvage Store