I had the best time this week on my self-guided, picture-taking tour of the Falls Road Historic District and the Rocky Mount Mills Village. Although the two are located next to each other, each is given separate historic district recognition. (Scroll down to see last week’s blog on the first two of Rocky Mount’s seven historic districts I visited.)
I began with the Falls Road Historic District. According to an excellent website (livingplaces.com/NC/Nash_County/Rocky_Mount_City/Falls_Road_Historic_District), this area boasts a range of architectural styles such as Queen Anne, Colonial, Georgian, and Craftsman.
I’m no architecture expert, but I can attest to the fact that there are some grand old homes along Falls Road. Here’s one on the corner of Falls Road and Braswell Street, currently owned by Rocky Mount Councilman Andre Knight. The plaque on the brick wall announces its name, Melrose Manor.
Avent Street, which runs parallel to Falls Road and is included in the historic district, has some distinctive homes as well. I love the blue exterior, brick chimney, and screened porch of this house.
Here’s one for sale on Avent Street. If this house were in one of the downtown neighborhoods in Charlotte, it would go for half a million dollars in a matter of days. Location, location, location, right?
When I think of historic Rocky Mount, the area around Rocky Mount Mills comes to mind. After all, the name of the town came from the rocky terrain at the falls of the Tar River, the site of the second cotton mill in the state.
There’s plenty of interesting history about Rocky Mount Mills. It began operation in 1818, was the target of Union attack in the Civil War, and was rebuilt in 1870. A village was established in the surrounding area as mill owners built company-owned houses for employees. When Rocky Mount Mills closed in 1996, it was the oldest operating mill in the South.
Nowhere in Rocky Mount has revitalization been more successful than in the area designated the Rocky Mount Mills Village Historic District. Thanks to Capitol Broadcasting Company for its investment in Rocky Mount.
Here’s what many of the mill houses looked like before restoration.
Here’s what almost all look like now. I love the red porch swing and rockers on this house.
Some of the rehabilitated mill homes are duplexes. Check out the two front doors with matching wreaths on this cheerful yellow house. A central chimney and a white picket fence make this a storybook home. (Do I sound like a real estate ad?)
The front porches of these renovated mill homes hearken back to a day before television and air conditioning when folks sat outside after supper, no doubt greeting neighbors walking down the sidewalks.
Today, historic houses on the site of the old Rocky Mount Mills campus are enjoying new life as pubs and restaurants. The popular Koi Pond Brewing Company is located in what was once the mill superintendent’s home.
This large bungalow, the sole example of Craftsman style at the Mills, was used as a community house. Today it’s home to a restaurant, Tap @1918. I recently had a lovely dinner on that porch about where the employee is standing in the picture.
The grandest house on the campus of Rocky Mount Mills was built in 1835 for mill owner Benjamin D. Battle. Benjamin was the son of Joel Battle, founder of Rocky Mount Mills.
Before I go, three funny stories about my two tours of four historic districts. Yes, I feel a little weird parking on random streets, getting out of my car, and snapping photos of other people’s property.
When I was in Edgemont, a woman came out of the house across from the one I was photographing and asked if she could help me. I replied, “No, I’m just taking a picture of the house where my cousins used to live.”
“Okay,” she said. “I thought I heard a car horn.” Hmm…right.
When I was in West Haven, I glimpsed a walker half a block away. Suddenly she seemed to speed up. She wants to find out what I’m doing, I thought. I didn’t have time to talk as I was already late for lunch, so I hurriedly snapped one more photo, jumped in my car, and sped away. I wonder if she got my license plate number.
And to the motorist on Falls Road who gave me a wolf whistle. “Seriously, Dude, I’m a 65-year-old grandma….But thanks.”
Next week, This Old House, Part 3