Preservation Photos #109

A rare snowfall in Southern Pines, NC, as seen from the streets of the historic downtown in January 2009.

Preservation Photos #70

At the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines, NC, January 20, 2009.Photograph by Kaitlin O'Shea.

Contrary to current weather patterns, when we lived in North Carolina, it snowed only once — at least, I only had one snow day from work. And those few inches that we got on January 20, 2009, transformed the entire town into a beautiful winter wonderland. This picture was taken on the property of the Weymouth Center, the location of the historically significant Boyd House. I love that property and this tree.

Small Town Evening Stroll

Strolling through a small town at night is vastly different from strolling down the street in broad daylight when other shoppers are crowding the sidewalks and cars line the streets, prohibitive of a clear view down the block. At night time, the breeze is warm but cool (in this southern town anyway) and the storefronts are all your own for window shopping and gazing at architectural features like door jambs, ceilings, arches, and transoms. Everything is all aglow, peaceful and quiet.

Northwest Broad Street, Southern Pines

Northwest Broad Street, Southern Pines

Northwest Broad Street, Southern Pines NC

Northwest Broad Street, Southern Pines NC

First Friday, et al.

A few quick notes on this Friday in June:

1. Since it is the “first” Friday in June, it’s possible that your town has a “First Friday” event. Sometimes it’s an art events, sometimes it’s more like a block party. The event depends on your town. In Southern Pines, First Friday is a fun town gathering with food, kids’ games, and a band playing. Today there is a band and a storyteller.  These events are held May-October (5pm – 8pm) and serve as a way to get the community out and together and interacting with local businesses.

To quote the website, “The “First Friday” series is designed as such to invigorate and augment the many things about Southern Pines that make it such a wonderful place to live and do business. The goal of this event is to increase awareness of these points and foster relationships within the community in a setting of relaxation, fun and togetherness.”

Sounds good, right? To find out if your town has a First Friday, check your local newspaper or just search on the web for “first friday” and your town’s name. 

2. Preservation in Pink, June 2009 will be published next week! 

3. If you haven’t been reading the Tuesday/Thursday post series by Brad Hatch and Lauren McMillan, be sure to do so. Brad and Lauren offer great stories, insights, and thoughts tied deep to archaeology and preservation. Brad’s posts are about trips that he and Lauren take, hence “Preservacation” and Lauren is writing about her field school experience this summer.  If they inspire you to start a blogging series, let me know!

4. I love flamingos, whatever their shade of pink.

African Lesser Flamingo in Honolulu, Hawaii. Photograph courtesy of Ellen Detlefsen.

African Lesser Flamingo in Honolulu, Hawaii, March 2009. Photograph courtesy of Ellen Detlefsen.

Upon Further Consideration

In yesterday’s post, I praised Southern Pines for its quality of life and vibrant downtown, while expressing my hope that the town wouldn’t lose its character and community affection. After work, I strolled to the post office and window shopped – every store closes at 5pm, except the bookstore which closes at 6pm.  As I was walking, two people stopped me and asked me where they could find a store to get everything. I asked if they meant a drugstore or a grocery store. Either would do, they said.  They were new to town but staying the week for vacation. They also asked me exactly where they were.

I informed them that they were in downtown Southern Pines, but sadly everything downtown is a boutique or a restaurant. They would have to go back to Route 1 and find the grocery stores and drugstores outside of town.  It was clear that they didn’t mind having to leave downtown to find something, but our brief conversation reminded me of my biggest complaint about downtown Southern Pines: it is more tourist based than anything else. For everyday needs, save for the post office and a few offices there is not a strong need to go downtown, whether by driving or walking.

Therefore, I would encourage the long-range plan to focus on a few viable businesses that would bring everyday folks to downtown – whether a small grocery store or a drugstore.  I am sure that there are many complications to such a task, but a new restaurant in a new building is opening soon and it filled existing space. Perhaps something other than a boutique or a restaurant would be good; a good downtown should welcome residents and tourists, not one or the other.

Southern Pines Long-Range Plan

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Click for larger image

At the local bookshop shoppers receive the above mini-poll, asking Southern Pines residents and others to voice their opinions regarding how the town should develop over the next 20 years.  As you can see, the poll asks about property rights, vacant lots, the heart of the town, walkability, development directions, town economy and job opportunities, among others. Participants are asked to respond yes or no to each question and then explain or elaborate if necessary.

To me, the poll seemed pointed very much in one direction. After all it does use terms like the “heart of Southern Pines”, “walkable” and “increase the need for car travel”.  However, it seems to be a preservation friendly direction, so I will not complain. After all, Southern Pines is a unique place. Horse people are drawn to this area because of the vast amount of open space and the fact that all of the farms connect, providing safe riding trails. Families enjoy the area because downtown is so friendly with a park, restaurants, schools, churches, and shops all within walking distance.  And of course, downtown is beautifully landscaped with azaleas, brick sidewalks, and other “charming” features.  You will be hard pressed to find a town as pleasant as Southern Pines in this area.  With the mild weather and relatively small population, it is an easy, comforting place to live.

Yet, outside of downtown there are big-box retail stores (including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Petsmart, TJMaxx, Belk, etc.) and fast food chains, and booming development as people migrate from the colder northern climate and even from the Raleigh-Durham area.  Land is increasing in value and developers are moving in, adding more retail stores. Southern Pines and Pinehurst are very much based on tourism as well, mostly known for the resorts and world class golf courses. And it still an affordable place to live, whether you are a renter or a home owner (not counting the horse country estates and the historic Village of Pinehurst).

Thus, development will be more of an issue in the next 20 years as the area expands. It is nice to see that the town is interested in listening to its residents, hoping to maintain what people love about the area.  I only hope that there enough people who can identify what is special about this area (walkability, horse country).  One issue is that most people who live are married with families or retired; there are very few unmarried 20 somethings here.  It is a catch-22 situation: there are not enough jobs for the young folks, but there isn’t anyone to take the jobs.  Where to begin? I would guess that the last questions sort of relate to that.

I don’t know what the results of this survey will be or even how long the town is accepting replies, but the effort is promising and it shows that people do care about the future of Southern Pines. I hope other towns follow suit. Does anyone else live somewhere with similar issues? Please share.

Beautiful House

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This house in Southern Pines is a beautiful example of rehabilitation and renovation. When I moved here 2.5 years ago, this house was completely gutted on the inside, sitting empty for so long, and rumored circulated about who would buy the house and what would happen to it. The rumors were never very positive. While I do not know what the house looks like inside, it’s a beautiful lot in town and a great addition to the neighborhood. And the renovations are respectful to the rest of the historic district. I love this house.

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Small Town Moments

This may or may not have been stated, implied, or recognized in previous posts, but I have geographic commitment phobia.  Relationships, habits, hobbies, promises – I’m reliable and will commit 100 percent. But, tell me to choose one place to call home (aside from my childhood home) and I will run in the other direction.  Maybe it due to my age, stage in life, or the fact that I’ve read too many books about pioneers on the Oregon Trail.

Whatever the reason, this conflicts with my notion of loving the place where I am, and feeling that sense of place and pride in one’s community. I’m not really being true to my word if I keep dreaming of other places, am I?  I have issues with the warm southern weather and the lack of snow and the distance from home. But, I love small towns (mostly), the railroad tracks sitting one block away, the constantly sunny days, my house, my running routes, and the people I have met.  And these factors are all important in making me content to live where I do. There are certain small town moments that I love, classic Americana, if you will.

Looking up on a late afternoon in February.

Looking up on a late afternoon in February.

Last year, Vinny and I brought laundry to the laundromat in order to catch up on the neglected baskets full of dirty clothes and towels. We loaded the laundry into the machines and then sat outside on the hood of my car, eating a pizza, while the freight train passed by, not even 100 yards away.  Moments like that will always remind me of this small town in America.

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Looking south down the railroad tracks at sunset.

The other day after work we took a walk around town in the 70 degree, windy weather (in February).  We saw a few people along the way and meandered past the shops and boutiques that had since closed for the day.  And since I’m still participating in Project 365, I always have my camera and am delighted to find good opportunities, such as this building in town.  Sotheby’s Realty had previously been a robin’s egg sort of blue, so the change to natural wood is not something you can miss.

Sotheby's in town. Undergoing a color change!

Sotheby's in town. Undergoing a color change!

Upon closer inspection, we could tell that they were in the middle this task, which became obvious once we turned the corner. I believe it was even a darker shade of blue than in this picture, but you get the idea. While blue may not be historically accurate, Southern Pines has yellow, dark green, and pink buildings along the streets, so the blue fit in nicely.

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From blue to natural.

So, whether it takes you a walk around town on a beautiful day, a good cup of coffee, gazing at houses, finding a good restaurant, or anything else, I hope you find some way to enjoy the place you live. It always takes me a while and it may not be constant, but I think if we are all happy to be where we are for now, life is much easier.  And the preservation field will thank us for finding value everywhere we live. Think of the National Trust’s initiative, This Place Matters.  And send along stories of why you like where you live.

Train station in Southern Pines

Train station in Southern Pines

Gulley’s Garden Center

One of the best places to visit in Southern Pines is Gulley’s Garden Center. It’s more than your typical store with mulch, plants, and flower pots. It has been family owned and operated since 1974. Gulley’s is practically a separate world off Broad Street and the perfect place for exploring and daydreaming. It is also conveniently across the railroad tracks from the best coffee shop in town.

Gulley’s does have all of the garden supplies you could want, but there are also collections of rusted old farm equipment, historic gas pumps, many, many colorful flower pots, a windmill, a historic cottage with a military museum on the second floor, curved walkways to meander about, and the world’s largest private collection of “ole-time” wash pots. Aside from all of this, there is a Christmas Shop filled to the brim with anything and everything you need to decorate your tree and house.

It’s more fun to look at the photographs, so see below! Click on the photographs to view a larger version.

Peering over the tracks at Gulley's

Peering over the tracks at Gulley's

One of the many gas pumps

One of the many gas pumps

Just a sampling of the diversions at Gulley's

Just a sampling of the diversions at Gulley's

In the back of the Garden Center property. This houses the military museum, too.

In the back of the Garden Center property. This houses the military museum, too.

Killer Mongoose?

Killer Mongoose?

Flamingos! In the Company Store (closed) at Gulley's. They're EVERYWHERE!

Flamingos! In the Company Store (closed) at Gulley's. They're EVERYWHERE!

The World's Largest Private Collection of ole-time Wash Pots, circa 1900.

The World's Largest Private Collection of ole-time Wash Pots, circa 1900.

This is only half of them.

This is only half of them.

The windmill.

The windmill.

Modern art, though I'm not sure what it is. It's not quite a flamingo, despite the pink.

Modern art, though I'm not sure what it is. It's not quite a flamingo, despite the pink.

And these pictures are only a small portion of Gulley’s! This is small town America at it’s finest.