This Main Street Rocky Mount blog continues to evolve and enlarge its point of view. (As the garden grows, so does the gardener.) I continue to learn from all of you and the special people who have taken me under their wing, the cheerleaders in my life. I’m grateful! With the publication of today’s blog, I hope you find Main Streets’ new look a further promise of advocacy for preserving, restoring, and repurposing our significant commercial and residential architecture.
When I write the phrase, Saving Main Street, I think of it as a metaphor for our historic downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. We have been learning the language of Main Street and celebrating the emerging downtown scene where restoration is in progress. We now know that the word ‘incubator’ is where entrepreneurs gather in a shared space, dream their dreams and run new businesses. The word ‘anchor project’ refers to key projects at the edges of the revitalization areas like our restored train & bus station, Imperial Center, Douglas Block, and The Mill. People want ‘Walkable neighborhoods,’ where they can go out the door and walk to work, to eat, and find entertainment. ‘The third Place’ refers to destinations where you don’t need to know anyone, but are welcomed, feel safe, and have the TV series, Cheers, kind of experience. These are pieces of the revitalization puzzle that are happening on Main Street.
I write in the spirit of the Peter Varney years of leadership in Rocky Mount. Peter showed a will and passion on many fronts for the preservation of historical architecture. We have Peter to thank for the round knobs along the fence next to the tracks at the train station that were commissioned to the exact specifications of the original knobs. Seemingly a small detail, but the heart of preservation.
Let us be thankful for Main Street and those involved in its revitalization.
Sitting on the corner of Elm and LaSalle Streets in Chicago you will find The Church of the Ascension. It is an Anglo-Catholic Episcopal parish (high church) that is one of the threads in my life tapestry. It is candle-lit and filled with holy music. Facing LaSalle Street, mounted on the front of the church, is a bronze sculpture of Christ on the cross. Written below are the words, “Is It Nothing To You -All Who Pass By?” From the first moment, I saw this piece of art, its beauty, and starkness remains powerful and moving. Today, I am still captured by this image. I mention this when starting to write about Goldsboro because I want the revitalization of Rocky Mount to mean something to you.
“You can ignore a piece of sculpture or a painting hung on the walls of the Art Institute, but architecture is the inescapable art.”
Blair Kamain, Why Architecture Matters, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Blair Kamin is the architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune, a post he has held since 1992. I’m expecting a used ‘like new’ copy of his book from Amazon any day. I’m hoping to find a new teacher/friend while reading this book. I’ll let you know.
Welcome to Goldsboro: Note the widened sidewalks, the street lighting, the green space and trees, the pattern brick sidewalks, awnings, the beautiful restoration of each facade. Historically correct upper windows, a unified streetscape.
How this corner building once looked and then…below… the restoration…my photo a few days ago
Once Upon a Time and Today
Don’t miss the sidewalk brick pattern throughout the historic area…everywhere!
Our Main Street Streetscape is beautifully designed as well. Benches, the medium planted with trees all nestled in now. It was a great decision to start implementing our street design. We lag far behind with our commercial buildings, their restoration, and repurposing. When you visit Elizabeth City, Tarboro, New Burn, Goldsboro, all accredited with the NC Main Street Program, you will see that we have paid dearly for having our Main Street affiliation sabotaged. It calls for accountability, record keeping, and citizen participation. The “My Way” agenda is not interested in any of that. Drive over to Goldsboro and see for yourself how economic development within the context of Historic Preservation looks. Wouldn’t you like to see our Historic Downtown back on track with the Main Street Program?
The photos other than mine were featured in a great article. Here is the link.
“Oh, to be home again! Under the apple-boughs, down by the mill!” James Thomas Fields
Sitting outside at the Mill today was DE-vine. The sky was Carolina blue and the temperature heavenly. I love Books and Beans, a beautiful restoration of the old Canteen. With a dear friend, an egg and cheese sandwich on GF toast, and sweet tea, you feel that you could live forever. I would like this October weather to last until Spring, wouldn’t you? The once upon a time story of the Mill lingers in the air, the buildings that were on life support now hail and hearty once again. The energy and new purposes of the Mill seem to radiate from the brick, the windows gleaming with sunlight, and renewed energy that looks out upon a preservationist’s delight. Here is a premier example of revitalization that has brought revenue, people, more private investment to Rocky Mount. The immeasurable contribution of how to do things right is a lesson in a win-win attitude, where everyone benefits. Thankful for a few hours at the Mill on a beautiful day spent admiring the scene. Thank you for providing this sense of place that is vital to Rocky Mount’s story; instrumental to creating its future.
“The sound of water escaping from mill dams, etc., willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts, and brickwork, I love such things.” – John Constable