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Edgemont Historic District


The Edgemont Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 and a boundary expansion was listed in 2002. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from copies of the original nomination and expansion documents. [†, ‡] Adaptation copyright © 2012, The Gombach Group.

Edgemont, a subdivision three blocks east of Main Street in Rocky Mount, was platted in 1914 by Rocky Mount civil engineer Luther D. Harper on farmland. The principal avenue of Tarboro Street, with flanking Sycamore and Hill Streets, compose the core of the subdivision, with four crossing streets and service alleys through the centers of the blocks. As the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, which had its repair shops in Rocky Mount, and the town's tobacco market boomed in the early twentieth century, Edgemont developed as one of the most stylish of the town's suburbs. For the next twenty-five years doctors, lawyers, tobacconists, salesmen, clerks, and employees of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad built Bungalows, Foursquares, and Colonial and Tudor Revival style houses on the spacious, flat lots in the Edgemont subdivision. Along the alleys they erected matching garages, and occasionally maids' quarters, that form stylish ensembles. The Edgemont Historic District meets National Register of Historic Places eligibility for its significance in the area of community development as one of the major subdivisions of the city's pre-World War II boom period. The Edgemont Historic District is also significant as one of the most intact collections of historic residential design in Rocky Mount. The extremely well-preserved streetscapes of houses and garages of matching architectural design have strong architectural significance.

Historical Background

The village of Rocky Mount grew up along the tracks of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, which came through in 1840 along the border between Nash County and Edgecombe County. As Rocky Mount grew at the turn of the century, due to the arrival of tobacco in the late 1880s, a burst of expansion created a sizeable business district built from the 1890s into the 1920s. This was generated by the establishment of the Rocky Mount Tobacco Market and the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (formerly the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad) repair shops. Some seventy trains a day passed through Rocky Mount in 1905.[1] Population rose from 650 in 1890 to 12,000 in 1920 and to over 20,000 in 1930.[2] Developers built stylish residences on both the west, Nash County side of town, and on the east, Edgecombe County side.

In 1891, as Rocky Mount was just beginning to expand beyond the few streets that paralleled the railroad tracks, the east side of the tracks was primarily farmland. Eastern Avenue, Tarboro Street, Hill Street, and Marigold Street extended from the tracks in a southeastern direction to Cokey Road, the edge of town. A few houses stood on these streets, as well as a steam cotton gin and saw mill. Beyond Cokey Road stretched the rural fields of Edgecombe County.

The subdivision plat known as Edgemont was recorded in 1914 by civil engineer Luther D. Harper [Edgecombe Co. PB 1, 86]. The 1914 plat covered an area roughly bounded by Eastern Avenue to the north, Edgewood Street to the east, the intersection of Redgate Avenue and Cokey Road to the south, and Raleigh Road to the west. The name was appropriate, as the subdivision was situated at the eastern edge of the growing town of Rocky Mount, as well as being located in Edgecombe County, whose boundary was the railroad tracks along Main Street. The subdivision was subsequently expanded in later years to the north and east with extensions known as Edgemont Terrace and Edgemont Park. The original nomination to the National Register of Historic Places includes the core of the subdivision, which developed earliest with the most architecturally significant and intact dwellings.

Edgemont's blocks were divided into fifteen to sixteen lots averaging in size from sixty to seventy-five feet wide by 150 to 170 feet deep. Service alleys bisected the blocks at the rear lot lines. Ranging in price from $1,500 to $2,000, lots were sold with restrictions, some of which would remain in effect for twenty years, some for fifteen years, and some for ten years, to ensure property values. The property was not to be sold or rented to persons of African descent, no liquor was to be sold on the property, no subdividing of lots, and no more than one main building per lot. Other restrictions included a thirty-five foot setback from the street, and a minimum construction cost standard. In the early years between 1914 and 1918, the minimum required price of buildings constructed was between $2,500 to $3,000. By 1919, some lots were sold with a minimum required cost of $8,000.

The first five years of Edgemont's development appears from deed transactions to have been marked by considerable real estate speculation. The grantors for most of the deeds between 1914 and 1919 are four individuals: Luther D. Harper, Nannie D. Harper, Peter D. Jones, and Susan D. Jones. Luther Harper, civil engineer and surveyor, first appears in city directories in the mid-1910s, when he had apparently just moved to Rocky Mount. He and his wife Nannie lived on Church Street, one block from Main Street. In 1914 he platted the Edgemont subdivision, and by 1925 he and Nannie lived in the subdivision, at 700 Sycamore Street. By this time he was a general contractor with an office on Main Street. Harper was one of six general contractors in Rocky Mount in the mid-1920s, up from only one in the mid-1910s, an indication of the volume of construction in the city during the Roaring Twenties. Harper and his wife owned some portion of the lots in Edgemont, and he may have constructed custom houses for buyers as well as built speculative houses for sale.[3]

Much less is known about Peter and Susan Jones, presumably husband and wife. Peter is first listed in city directories in 1912-13, when he was an insurance agent who lived at 402 Tarboro Street, in the block just west of the Edgemont subdivision. By 1914-15 Peter's occupation was given as farmer. He does not appear in the next extant directory of 1925; perhaps he had moved out of town or died.[4] Peter and Susan Jones owned far more Edgemont lots than did the Harpers. Possibly the subdivision land had been the Jones farm, and Luther Harper went into partnership with the Joneses to develop the land. In exchange for his development services, Harper may have been given a portion of the lots.

Because of the numerous sales and resales of Edgemont lots in the late 1910s, only a careful deed search for each property will reveal the owner who actually constructed the house that now stands on the lot. Purchasers often bought several lots at the time. For example, W.A. Bulluck purchased three lots in block twenty-seven at the southeast corner of Daughtry and Sycamore Streets in 1914 from Susan D. Jones and the Harpers. One year later he sold them to F.E. Winslow. The lots were not developed until the 1920s, when a quadruplex was built at 705 Sycamore Street and a distinguished Prairie style house at 707 Sycamore Street. The earliest known owner of the Prairie house, engineer Jesse O. Bishop, was living there in 1925 and may have had the house built. The original owner of the quadruplex is not known.[5]

A sampling of the land transactions in Edgemont in the latter 1910s reveal a few original owner-occupants and one speculative builder. In 1916 Willis P. Holding, secretary-treasurer of W.R. Lancaster Furniture Company, bought lot five in block thirty-two from Susan Jones and L.D. and Nannie Harper. By 1920 Holding had built a frame Bungalow for himself on the site (727 Tarboro Street). Building contractor Kelly Kirk Bell purchased lot one in block thirty-one (803 Tarboro Street) from the Jones-Harpers in 1916. He apparently built a handsome brick Foursquare house with matching garage for speculation on the lot by 1923. Merchant Blake Williford purchased lots seven and eight in block twenty-five in 1917 from the Jones-Harper owners. By 1923 Blake's widow, Hattie Williford, occupied a two-story Craftsman style dwelling on the site, 504 Tarboro Street. In 1919, Elmer W. Bulluck purchased three lots in block twenty-eight from the Harpers. By the late 1920s, Bulluck had erected one of the most stylish houses in Edgemont Historic District, a reproduction of an early Colonial brick mansion house, on the lots at 800 Tarboro Street.

The market crash of 1929 and Great Depression of the 1930s hit Rocky Mount hard. Luther Harper's contracting business apparently failed in the early years of the Depression. By 1934 he was working as a field agent for Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company. Due to Rocky Mount's economic diversification, that included the railroad, tobacco market, and textile mills, the town rebounded more quickly than many others in the state. Even in 1935, in the depths of the Depression, a new city school was built and additions made to existing schools. Rocky Mount's famous "June Germans," a series of dances held in the tobacco warehouses, reached their peak of popularity in the 1930s.[6] Real estate and construction had apparently begun to rebound by 1936, for Harper once again listed himself as a civil engineer in the city directory. By 1940, Harper and his wife were living at their home on Sycamore Street with no occupation listed, so he had probably retired.[7]

The Edgemont neighborhood, with its northern and eastern expansions, was largely built up by the early 1940s. After World War II, newer suburbs stole much of Edgemont's luster. Rocky Mount's economy was severely damaged by the loss of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad shops in 1959. Since that time, the town has been gradually shedding its reliance on tobacco and building a diversified industrial and service base. Today, Edgemont is a neighborhood with a mixed socioeconomic and racial population. The Edgemont Neighborhood Association, formed in 1996, is proof that many of the neighborhood residents want to preserve the architectural and historical heritage of the area. The Association petitioned the city of Rocky Mount to create an Edgemont Historic District to make rehabilitation tax credits available to property owners who wish to restore their buildings.

Community Development and Historic Architecture Context

The Edgemont Historic District is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as an extremely well-preserved residential subdivision largely developed in the 1910s and 1920s. Edgemont's grid plan, service alleys, and commodious garages form a transitional phase in subdivision development between late nineteenth century dense downtown housing and the dispersed automobile suburbs of the 1920s. Houses along such streets as Church, Franklin and Pearl Streets a few blocks west of the tracks, and Tarboro Street a few blocks east of the tracks, retain Queen Anne and Neoclassical Revival houses set close together on fifty-foot lots, with narrow front yards. The residents of these houses walked to stores and offices in the business district. In 1914, when Edgemont was platted, its developers, anticipating the widespread ownership of automobiles, created wider lots with deep rear yards serviced by an alley, where rear-facing garages could be built.

Rocky Mount's development accelerated in the 1920s, particularly on the west side of the tracks where new parks, a modern library, a country club, and suburban homes were being built. In this decade the exclusive subdivisions of Englewood and West Haven were developed in west Rocky Mount. Englewood, developed in 1925 by local businessman Z.B. Bulluck on cotton fields west of the Tar River and south of Sunset Avenue, is a subdivision of gently curving streets. In the next fifteen years Englewood was furnished with middle- and upper-middle class houses of largely Colonial Revival style, although a few exotic designs, such as Bulluck's own Renaissance Revival 1927 mansion, also stand in the development. Englewood promoted the rapid westward expansion of Rocky Mount made possible by the widespread ownership of motorcars.[8]

West Haven, platted in 1928 between the Villa Place subdivision and the Tar River by local civil engineer John Wells, features winding lanes, broad lawns, and spacious homes of largely Colonial Revival design. The free-standing auto garage was a common component of house design in West Haven, as it was in Englewood. The businessmen and professional occupants of these houses relied on their cars to carry them downtown, as Rocky Mount had no streetcar system. Among the restrictive covenants in West Haven deeds were a seventy-foot setback from the street, and the requirement that garages face away from the street and out of public view. Wells included a picturesque lily pond and several areas reserved for public parks in the plan.[9]

Edgemont's architectural development is closer to that of the earlier, downtown developments such as Villa Place than to the 1920s suburbs of Englewood and West Haven. Edgemont houses are tightly massed, often two-stories with rear ells, rather than expansive plans with wings and attached garages like Englewood and West Haven houses. Further, while a number of the later suburban houses were designed by architects, most of Edgemont's craftsman, Foursquare, Dutch Colonial and Tudor Revival style houses were likely built from mail-order plans. Some of them may have been "kit houses" from Sears & Roebuck or Aladdin Homes. Several of the larger dwellings, such as the Colonial Revival style Bulluck-Lea House (800 Tarboro Street), the Mediterranean Revival style Millard Jones House (627 Tarboro Street), and H. Wayne Whitley's Spanish Colonial Revival style bungalow (833 Tarboro Street), were probably architects' custom designs. Many of Edgemont's houses are exemplary representatives of domestic design from 1915 to the 1940s in Rocky Mount. The Edgemont Historic District as an architectural and planning ensemble also has great significance in Rocky Mount's early twentieth century community development.

Edgemont Historic District Boundary Increase

Edgemont, a subdivision three blocks east of Main Street in Rocky Mount, was platted in 1914 by Rocky Mount civil engineer Luther D. Harper on farmland. The eight-block core of the subdivision, consisting of the east-west Tarboro Street, the principal avenue, with flanking Sycamore and Hill Streets, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. The blocks of Sycamore Street and Eastern Avenue on the north and Marigold and School streets on the south are being included in the Edgemont Historic District in order to include the expanded area survey. Like the core of the Edgemont District, the expansion area is filled with stylish Foursquares, Bungalows, Craftsman, Tudor Revival, and Period Cottages built from ca.1914 to ca.1950. The most significant building in the Edgemont Historic District Boundary Expansion, and the only non-residential building, is the former Edgemont School, an eclectic Collegiate Gothic-Classical Revival style brick building constructed about 1914 to educate the subdivision's children. Edgemont was one of the most stylish of Rocky Mount's suburbs in the 1920s and 1930s as the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the town's tobacco market provided employment and generated a housing boom. Edgemont's residents erected matching garages along the alleys behind their houses to form stylish ensembles. The Edgemont Historic District Boundary Expansion Area meets National Register of Historic Places criterion for its significance in the area of community development as the remaining blocks of one of the major subdivisions of the city's pre-World War II boom period. The Edgemont Historic District expansion area is also eligible as one of the most significant collections of historic residential design in Rocky Mount. The extremely well-preserved streetscapes of houses and garages of matching architectural design have strong architectural significance. The period of significance begins with the earliest construction ca.1915 and ends ca.1950 when the historic development of the area was largely complete.

Historical Background

Rocky Mount's earliest residential development occurred on the west side of the business district. The area east of the railroad tracks that runs north-south through the center of Main Street was very sparsely developed until the Edgemont subdivision was laid out in 1914. At this time, Eastern Avenue, Tarboro Street, Hill Street, and Marigold Street extended from the tracks in a southeastern direction to Cokey Road (the highway to Tarboro), which marked the edge of town. A few houses stood on these streets, as well as a steam cotton gin and saw mill. Beyond Cokey Road stretched the rural fields of Edgecombe County. As Rocky Mount's population boomed with the families attracted by jobs with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Repair Shops and cotton and tobacco factories, population rose from 650 in 1890 to 12,000 in 1920 and to over 20,000 in 1930.[10] The ACL Shops were located at the south end of town, one mile from the center of the business district.[11] It is estimated that the railroad supported as much as four-fifths of the town's population in 1920.[12] There was a need for middle-class housing on the east side of the business district to match the subdivisions such as Villa Place that were being built on the west side of town.

The subdivision plat known as Edgemont was recorded in 1914 by civil engineer Luther D. Harper. [Edgecombe Co. PB 1, 86] The 1914 plat covered an area roughly bounded by Eastern Avenue to the north, Edgewood Street to the east, the intersection of Redgate Avenue and Cokey Road to the south, and Raleigh Road to the west. The name was appropriate, as the subdivision was situated at the eastern edge of the growing town of Rocky Mount, as well as being located in Edgecombe County, whose boundary was the railroad tracks along Main Street. The subdivision was subsequently expanded in later years to the north and east with extensions in the late 1940s known as Edgemont Terrace and Edgemont Park. The Edgemont Historic District Boundary Increase includes the remainder of the original Edgemont subdivision, whose northern boundary is Eastern Avenue and southern boundary is Cokey Road. The original subdivision plat extended west to Raleigh Road, but much redevelopment has occurred in the block between Raleigh Road and George Street, so the western boundary of the original nomination and the expansion area is George Street. The subdivision plat extended in an irregular line east of Edgewood Street, but only a few houses were built here before World War II, therefore the east boundary is Edgewood Street.

The Edgemont Historic District Boundary Expansion's blocks are divided into seven to nine lots each, ranging in size from sixty to seventy-five feet wide by 150 to 170 feet deep. Service alleys bisect the blocks at the rear lot lines. Ranging in price from $650 to $1,500, lots were sold with restrictions, some of which would remain in effect for twenty years, some for fifteen years, and some for ten years, to ensure property values. The more expensive lots were located along the principal avenue, Tarboro Street. Among the deed restrictions were stipulations that the property was not to be sold or rented to persons of African descent, no liquor was to be sold on the property, lots could not be subdivided, and no more than one main building be built per lot. Other restrictions included a thirty-five foot setback from the street, and a minimum construction cost standard. In the early years between 1914 and 1918, the minimum required price of buildings constructed was between $2,500 to $3,000. By 1919, some lots were sold with a minimum required cost of $8,000.

Edgemont's developer, Luther D. Harper, was a civil engineer and surveyor who first appears in city directories in the mid-1910s, when he had apparently just moved to Rocky Mount. He and his wife Nannie lived on Church Street, one block from Main Street. In 1914 he platted the Edgemont subdivision, and by 1925 he and Nannie lived in the subdivision, at 700 Sycamore Street. By this time he was a general contractor with an office on Main Street. Harper was one of six general contractors in Rocky Mount in the mid-1920s, up from only one in the mid-1910s, an indication of the volume of construction in the city during the Roaring Twenties. Harper and his wife owned a number of the lots in Edgemont, and he may have constructed custom houses for buyers as well as built speculative houses for sale.[13]

About 1914, in anticipation of the educational needs of the Edgemont subdivision, a new graded and high school containing sixteen classrooms was built on the southwest edge, at 305 Cokey Road. The revised subdivision plat map of 1917 shows the Edgemont School in place at the corner of Cokey Road and Marigold Street. The earlier graded schools in Rocky Mount, built in the early twentieth century, were West School, on the west side of the business district, and East School, located on Raleigh Street east of the business district. At the end of its first year of operation, the elementary school moved back to the old East School on Raleigh Street and the Edgemont School became the Edgemont High School. In 1927 Edgemont School once again became an elementary school and East School became the Rocky Mount High School. In 1954 the Edgemont Elementary School became the Fannie W. Gorham Elementary School.[14]

Edgemont subdivision grew from the center out to the north and east edges. Houses were built throughout the subdivision between 1914 and 1930, with the exception of Eastern Avenue at the north edge, which began to be developed in the late 1920s with Bungalow and Craftsman style houses and a few Foursquares. In the late 1930s brick Period Cottages and small Tudor Revival style houses were built on Eastern Avenue and on the remaining lots of the rest of the subdivision.

Rocky Mount's economy was severely affected by the Great Depression, and construction largely ceased in Edgemont from 1929 to the late 1930s. The subdivision's second major construction period was the period from the late 1930s, when the economy was beginning to recover, to the beginning of World War II when construction largely ceased again. Duplex housing and apartment buildings became common during the 1920s in Rocky Mount as new development caused a housing shortage.[15] The earliest duplex in the expansion area, a stylish brick duplex built about 1923, stands at 528-530 Sycamore Street. A teacher at Rocky Mount High School built a brick duplex about 1940 at 733-735 Eastern Avenue, and lived in one side.

Luther Harper's contracting business apparently failed in the early years of the Depression. By 1934 he was working as a field agent for Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company. Due to Rocky Mount's economic diversification, that included the railroad, tobacco market, and textile mills, the town rebounded more quickly than many others in the state. Harper once again listed himself as a civil engineer in the city directory in 1936. By 1940, Harper and his wife were living at their home on Sycamore Street with no occupation listed, so he had probably retired.[16] Another prominent developer, Alphonso Hicks, manager of Rocky Mount Insurance and Realty Company, lived in a Foursquare at 622 Sycamore Street that was built about 1920. In 1945 Hicks advertised himself as developer of Edgemont Park, the area to the east of Edgewood Street, the east boundary of Edgemont.[17]

Another prominent resident of the Edgemont expansion area was J. Lawrence Home, Jr. editor of the Rocky Mount Weekly News and president of the Evening Telegram, Rocky Mount's first daily newspaper. J. Lawrence Home, one of the original owners of the newspapers, lived in a charming ca.1920 bungalow at 628 Sycamore Street from at least 1925 until 1945. In his later years he retained his position with the newspapers, but also was president of Citizens Building & Loan Company and a director of The Planters National Bank and Trust Company.[18]

The Edgemont subdivision was largely completed by the early 1940s. After World War II, newer suburbs stole much of Edgemont's luster. Rocky Mount's economy was severely damaged by the loss of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad shops in 1959. The shops were moved out of Rocky Mount after WW II when the railroad began expanding further south and west in the United States. [19]

Since that time, the town has been gradually shedding its reliance on tobacco and building a diversified industrial and service base.[20] Today, Edgemont is a neighborhood with a mixed socioeconomic and racial population and a sizeable number of absentee owners who rent out their property. The Edgemont Neighborhood Association, formed in 1996, is a strong, cohesive organization that is working to stabilize the neighborhood.

Community Development and Historic Architecture Context

The Edgemont Historic District Boundary Expansion is locally significant for community development as the remaining blocks of the Edgemont subdivision. The extremely well-preserved residential subdivision largely developed in the 1910s and 1920s. Eighty-five percent of its houses were built by 1950 and retain their architectural integrity, a remarkably high percentage. Edgemont's grid plan, service alleys, and commodious garages form a transitional phase in subdivision development between late nineteenth century dense downtown housing and the dispersed automobile suburbs of the 1920s. Edgemont's 60 to 75-foot lots are wider than the fifty-foot lots along such downtown streets as Church, Franklin, and Pearl Streets near the railroad tracks, yet the subdivision retains the urban grid plan and small front yards of earlier urban neighborhoods. In 1914, when Edgemont was platted, its developers, anticipating the widespread ownership of automobiles, created wider lots with deep rear yards serviced by an alley, where rear-facing garages could be built.

Rocky Mount's development accelerated in the 1920s, particularly on the west side of the tracks where new parks, a modem library, a country club, and suburban homes were being built. In this decade the exclusive subdivisions of Englewood and West Haven were developed in west Rocky Mount. Englewood, developed in 1925 by local businessman Z.B. Bulluck on cotton fields west of the Tar River and south of Sunset Avenue, is a subdivision of gently curving streets. In the next fifteen years Englewood was furnished with middle- and upper-middle class houses of largely Colonial Revival style, although a few exotic designs, such as Bulluck's own Renaissance Revival 1927 mansion, also stand in the development. Englewood promoted the rapid westward expansion of Rocky Mount made possible by the widespread ownership of motorcars.[21]

West Haven, platted in 1928 between the Villa Place subdivision and the Tar River by local civil engineer John Wells, features winding lanes, broad lawns, and spacious homes of largely Colonial Revival design. The free-standing auto garage was a common component of house design in West Haven, as it was in Englewood. The businessmen and professional occupants of these houses relied on their cars to carry them downtown, as Rocky Mount had no streetcar system. Among the restrictive covenants in West Haven deeds were a seventy-foot setback from the street, and the requirement that garages face away from the street and out of public view. Wells included a picturesque lily pond and several areas reserved for public parks in the plan.[22]

Edgemont's architectural development is closer to that of the earlier, downtown developments such as Villa Place than to the 1920s suburbs of Englewood and West Haven. Edgemont houses are tightly massed, often two-stories with rear ells, rather than expansive plans with wings and attached garages like many Englewood and West Haven houses. Further, while a number of the later suburban houses were designed by architects, some of Edgemont's Craftsman, Foursquare, Dutch Colonial and Tudor Revival style houses were likely built from mail-order plans. Some of them may have been "kit houses" from Sears & Roebuck or Aladdin Homes. The larger Craftsman style houses in the Edgemont expansion area were probably built by local contractors, several of whom lived in the subdivision. Roy and J. Pleasant Daughtridge, building contractors, lived side-by-side at 729 and 731 School Street in 1930 in modest bungalows which they may have built. The real estate development community was also well-represented in Edgemont. The subdivision's developer, Luther D. Harper, lived at 700 Sycamore Street in the expansion area. Alphonso Hicks, the developer of Edgemont Park, a 1940s subdivision located east of Edgewood Street, lived in the 600 block of Sycamore Street.

Many of Edgemont's houses are exemplary representatives of domestic design from 1915 to the 1940s in Rocky Mount. The Edgemont Historic District as an architectural and planning ensemble also has great significance in Rocky Mount's early twentieth century community development. The earliest houses, built in the second half of the 1910s, include pyramidal cottages, bungalow and Craftsman style houses, and Foursquares. The same house types remained popular throughout the 1920s. The Williams House, 728 Sycamore Street, built about 1915, is a frame two-story Foursquare, with a front gable roof with Queen Anne style shingled and sawnwork ornament. A typical 1920s Foursquare is the Speight House, 701 Eastern Avenue, a brick dwelling with wide eaves and paired eave brackets. Bungalows (one-story houses with integral porches) and one-story Craftsman style houses (with attached porches) continued to be built through the 1920s. One of the finest bungalows is the Gill House, 600 Marigold Street, built about 1920. The large frame one-story house has casement windows, a porch with massive stuccoed posts and railing, and a terrace extending out from the porch. The Home House, 628 Sycamore Street, ca.1923, is a small stylish bungalow with wood-shake walls, a porch with stone piers, and a side terrace with matching stone piers. Three houses have the size and architectural elaboration of some of the earliest houses along Tarboro Street, the subdivision's principal thoroughfare. Edgemont's developer, Luther D. Harper, built himself a Prairie style two-story frame house at 700 Sycamore Street between 1917 and 1923. The wide hip-roofed eaves, matched by the hipped roof of the wide porch that encircles the front and sides, create the horizontal emphasis of the Prairie style. The large, wide windows and strong, plain brick porch posts and solid brick railing evoke the geometrical angularity of this Midwestern style. Merchant Samuel Fligel built a large two-story brick Craftsman style house at 509 Sycamore Street about 1923. With its two-story rear wing, a wide porch that extends around the front and sides, bands of double and triple windows, and hipped roof with exposed rafter tails, the house epitomizes comfort and solidity. About 1923 engineer Edward Clarke built a similar two-story frame Craftsman style house at 616 Marigold Street. It too has a two-story rear wing, a wide hip-roofed porch that wraps around the front and sides, and such Craftsman features as double and triple sash windows and exposed rafter tails.

A few Colonial Revival style houses were built in the expansion area during the 1920s and 1930s. About 1923 a distinguished Dutch Colonial style brick duplex was built at 528-530 Sycamore Street. Entrances are sheltered beneath side porches with arched brick bays. Dormer windows recessed into the clipped gable roof provide ample light to the upper half-story. The Proctor House, 800 Sycamore Street, a traditional two-story frame house with a pedimented entrance porch, was built about 1925.

The majority of houses built from the late 1920s into the 1940s consisted of small, usually brick houses of modest Tudor Revival style or the more generalized Period Cottage style. The ca.1940 Riner House, 615 Eastern Avenue, is a one-story brick cottage with a half-timbered front-gabled wing and a porch with stucco and half-timbered posts characteristic of the Tudor Revival style. Typical of the more generic Period Cottage style, the Barfield House, 714 Marigold Street, ca.1940, is a side-gabled brick one and one-half story house with a front gabled wing with a recessed entrance in an arched bay.

The 1940s, the last decade of historic construction in the expansion area, added small houses of Cape Cod and Minimal Traditional style to the streetscapes. These one and one-half story frame or brick houses have side-gable roofs and simple classical trim around the entrances. The Thorne House, 623 Eastern Avenue, ca.1945, reflects the Cape Cod style with its gabled dormer windows and gable-end chimney. The one and one-half-story brick house at 734 Marigold Street, with its dormered side-gable roof, front-gabled wing, and shed porch with cast-iron supports, reflects the Minimal Traditional style popular about 1950 in the neighborhood.

Endnotes

  1. O'Quinlivan, Rocky Mount Centennial Commemorative Book 1867-1967.
  2. Bishir and Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina, 333.
  3. Rocky Mount City Directories, 1912-13, 1914-15, 1925, 1929, 1930, 1934, 1936, 1940.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Edgecombe County Deeds.
  6. O'Quinlivan, Rocky Mount Centennial Commemorative Book 1867-1967.
  7. Rocky Mount City Directories, 1934, 1936, 1940.
  8. Ibid., 30, 277-278.
  9. Mattson, The History and Architecture of Nash County, North Carolina, 29.
  10. Bishir and Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina, 333.
  11. Wells 1920 Map of Rocky Mount and Suburbs.
  12. Watson, Edgecombe County: A Brief History, 97.
  13. Rocky Mount City Directories, 1912-13, 1914-15, 1925, 1929, 1930, 1934, 1936, 1940.
  14. 1917 Sanborn Map; "Fannie Gorham School Named for Principal," Rocky Mount Telegram, Mar. 31, 1957.
  15. Mearns, Central City Historic Buildings Inventory: Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
  16. Rocky Mount City Directories, 1934, 1936, 1940.
  17. 1945 Rocky Mount City Directory.
  18. 1925, 1940, 1945 Rocky Mount City Directories; O'Quinlivan, Rocky Mount Centennial 1867-1967.
  19. O'Quinlivan, Rocky Mount Centennial 1867-1967.
  20. Watson, Edgecombe County: A Brief History, 98.
  21. Mattson, The History and Architecture of Nash County, North Carolina, 30, 277-278.
  22. Ibid., 29.

References

Bishir, Catherine W. and Southern, Michael T. A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Chamber of Commerce, archival storage.

Edgecombe County Deeds.

Edgemont Subdivision Plat, 1914. Edgecombe County Plat Book 1, page 86.

"Fannie Gorham School Named for Principal," Rocky Mount Telegram, March 31, 1957.

Map of Rocky Mount, West End Land Improvement Company, 1891. Wells, John H. Rocky Mount Map, 1920.

Mattson, Richard L. The History and Architecture of Nash County, North Carolina. Nashville: Nash County Planning Department, 1987.

Mearns, Kate. Central City Historic Buildings Inventory: Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Rocky Mount: Central City Revitalization Corporation, 1979.

O'Quinlivan, Michael. Rocky Mount Centennial Commemorative Book 1867-1967.

Rocky Mount City Directories, 1912-13, 1914-15, 1925, 1929, 1930, 1934, 1936, 1940, 1942, 1945. Rocky Mount. In storage at the Planning Department, City of Rocky Mount.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: 1917, 1923, 1954, 1956. In storage at the Planning Department, City of Rocky Mount.

Watson, Alan D. Edgecombe County: A Brief History. Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1979.

Edgemont Historic District, Edgecombe County, North Carolina, nomination document, 1999, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

‡ M. Ruth Little, Longleaf Historic Resources, Edmont Historic District Boundary Expansion, nomination document, 2002, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

See Map

Street Names: Cokey Road, Daughtry Street North, Daughtry Street South, Eastern Avenue, Hill Street, Marigold Street, Mercer Street North, Mercer Street South, Parker Street North, Parker Street South, School Street, Sycamore Street, Tarboro Street

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