Preservation – Rocky Mount’s Historic Downtown Part 2 – People’s Bank

mainst40s-1Saturday: The rain slashes the windows, all color drained from the day. Hurricane Matthew has mustered enough strength to hurl a downpour upon us. In writing about People’s Bank, part of the Preservation Rocky Mount tour last Sunday, a black and white photograph seems appropriate to begin with. I invite you to sit with this photo and indulge in some remembering and dreaming. I can imagine myself on the backseat of this car, listening to my parents sing along with Sinatra on the radio, (Click Here) Sunny Side of the Street...grab your coat and get your hat, leave your worries on the doorstep, life is oh so sweet, on the sunny side of the street. Life was vibrant and bustling in the days this photo was taken; a downtown filled with commerce, and prosperity.

The People’s Bank Building remains an architectural gem and figures prominently in the revitalization of the area. Perhaps I should abandon my idea of trying to talk John Brooks and his son, Charles Phillip Brooks into turning the Masonic Building into a boutique hotel that includes an artist in residence exhibiting his work. The Bank Building, an architectural delight would be a beautiful hotel too. It is complete with its own ghost sign I might add. (Click Here ) Remember the posts on ghost signs?


The Peoples Bank building was built by D. J. Rose and designed by Milburn & Heister in 1918. Renovated in 2006, it is first-class commercial office space. Five stories tall, it includes a mezzanine overlooking the dramatic two-story lobby. Located in Rocky Mount’s historic central business district, the building is located within walking distance of restaurants, stores, services, and government buildings, those in place, and those that are coming. After standing in the lobby of this gorgeous space, I now know that the D.J. Rose ‘Society’  must include not only the residential properties, but the commercial buildings as well. I know you agree, with only these few unprofessional photographs to go by, that this is a special asset in Rocky Mount. Next time you drive by, click you heels and salute. (Well, you know what I mean.)

Join me next time for Preservation Part 3 – The Post Office

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Elizabeth Scott Photo
Elizabeth Scott Photo

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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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Preservation Rocky Mount Invites You


I hope reading this blog has encouraged your interest in the great architectural inventory of Rocky Mount and area. This invitation is an opportunity to visit the May & Gorham Building, Post Office and People’s Bank with Preservation Rocky Mount on October 2 at 2:oo. As for me, I can hardly wait. You will have a great time with a bunch of nice folks. My plan is to act as the ‘preservation whisperer’ wafting through the crowd cozying up behind you to urge you to join the organization. Be a part of what comes next for PRM’s. The tour of the buildings  STARTS at the May & Gorham Building. We will return there for refreshments. I look forward to seeing you on October 2.


Getting Involved the Rocky Mount Way

John Mebane at PRM Annual Meeting

“It has been said that, at its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future.”
 William Murtagh

Don’t get left behind when it comes to what’s happening in Rocky Mount. There are any number of organizations you might consider if you are wondering how to get involved and  make a contribution. Let me suggest that you start by joining Preservation Rocky Mount. The group meets several times a year with its eye on fostering an appreciation for the preservation of the historical and architectural heritage of the City of Rocky Mount, Nash & Edgecombe Counties. We are living in a community that offers a rich sense of place to those who are moving to Rocky Mount, exactly what people want today when choosing where to live. Our significant inventory of architecture, our historic downtown core and other historic districts, all need the community to care about the on-going preservation of these assets to insure the future that is being built upon them.

We are all busy, and good intentions abound. I know you think, I keep meaning to join something. PRM is a group of engaged, knowledgable people that hold their meetings at locations of historical significance in the community, open to the public. There are several categories of membership, two of them: a single is $20.00 and for a couple $30.00. It is your heart and enthusiasm for the preservation of our history that is needed.

I attended the PRM annual meeting on Sunday held at Koi Pond in their newly renovated site at Rocky Mount Mills. Have you been yet? WOW! Preservation of a historic structure, given a new life, people, some with children and dogs on leashes, gathered in a safe and friendly environment. The first micro brewery in a perfect location.  Click HERE to read an earlier post about The Pond.  Preservation Rocky Mount is a great way to join a large ‘band of brothers’ who are building a future in Rocky Mount on the firm foundations of the past.

Call 252-407-7566 for further membership information

“If we do not honor our past, we lose our future. If we destroy our roots, we cannot grow.”
                                                                                                          Friedensreich Hundertwasser