Telling Our Architectural Story – Part Of Welcoming New People To Rocky Mount

Villa Place Historic District. Located at 326 Howell St.

In 1923 one of Rocky Mount’s architectural gems was moved to what became the Villa Place Historic District. This Queen Anne Victorian home holds court on 326 Howell Street. This house is known as the  W.D. Cochran home. It is one of the dwindling examples of two-story Queen Anne’s that once stood near the central business district: What I call Main Street and nearby areas on this blog. Local architect, John C. Stout, designed the house that began its life in the 300 block of South Main Street. Think about how improved methods are today to accomplish this complicated feat.

In returning from The Main Street Conference, I can tell you that the word is out. When asked where I was from, I didn’t bother with the Nashville fact and said–“Rocky Mount.” Many responses acknowledged knowing about the positive things happening here. Many had been to the Mill! We’re expecting a big influx of new neighbors who are moving to Rocky Mount because of jobs coming our way and ……. because of the emerging Main Street scene. Many have arrived. If you work in real estate and aren’t telling the story and showing clients our historic district locations, you are not on the revitalization train.  Encourage people to take advantage of a great price, do the HGTV-thing, save and preserve one of the many historic gems as an exciting and satisfying adventure. Start with Villa Place, Edgemont and, and, and.

I LOVE VILLA PLACE – -It is a nine-block neighborhood located three blocks west of Main Street. It is the most intact turn-of-the-century residential subdivision in the city of Rocky Mount. The densely developed neighborhood is filled with well-preserved Queen Anne, Foursquare Bungalows, Craftsman, Colonial Revival and Neoclassical Revival style houses built between 1900 and the 1940s by employees of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and other businesses in the bustling railroad and tobacco town. The West End Land Development Company laid out the east half of the district in 1891 and sold lots until 1907 when the American Suburban Corporation took over the development. In 1913 this company platted the west half of the district as Villa Place. The entire area is now known by this name. The principal district landmark is Machaven, a Neoclassical Revival style brick mansion built in the middle of the subdivision in 1908 from a design by Raleigh architect H. P. S. Keller. Thanks to investor Jesse Gerstl, Machaven is open again. The strong local significance of Villa Place in the history of Rocky Mount’s community development and architectural development is a great part of our story that all incoming folks will appreciate knowing.

Here we have photos of the 1895 historic Jones-Lee house that has been moved to 304 S. Greene St., Greenville, from Wilson, NC.  Solo Farm and Food Restaurant moved and restored this beautiful house that is now open in its new location. Our Howell Street Cochran House was moved but a few blocks. Think of what this Greenville relocation was like. You know what I say…anything they can do we can do better.  Here is another example that provides inspiration for what preservation and restoration can accomplish.