By Jeanna Baxter White
When the Bermuda Run West Hiking Group heard about the Davie County Chamber of Commerce’s Walking Tour of Downtown Mocksville guide it sounded like the perfect opportunity to learn more about the community while enjoying their monthly outing.
Phil Bargoil, the group’s founder, called Chamber President Caroline Moser to inquire about a guided tour, and she was happy to comply. “Mocksville has such a rich history. We thought a walking tour brochure would be a terrific way to showcase our beautiful homes as well as attract both visitors and residents to our unique downtown stores and palette-pleasing restaurants. I was thrilled when the Bermuda Run West Hiking Group expressed an interest in a guided hike and was happy to arrange it.”
Moser turned to Jane McAllister, former director of the Davie County Public Library and master historian, who provided the historical photos and details for the brochure, to see if she would lead the tour. She was happy to help. Because of the size of the group, McAllister recruited Ashlyn O’Brien, administrative support specialist at the Davie County Public Library, to lead half of the club members.
On April 21st, 28 members of the BRW Hiking group and Moser followed McAllister and O’Brien down Main Street to view the nine historic homes featured in the walking guide.
The homes, built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, feature a variety of architectural styles including Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Shingle Style, Victorian Gothic, Classical Revival, Craftsman, and Colonial Revival. Examples include:
(c. 1903) One of very few Davie County buildings known to have been designed by an architectural firm (Barber and Kluttz of Knoxville, TN), the house rests on a stone foundation and features a recessed core topped by octagonal and round dormers, and a stone chimney. Dr. Anderson was a local dentist.
(665 N. Main)
(1880s) The brick Gothic Revival house features pointed arch windows and central bay porches on two stories and boasted the first doorbell in Mocksville. The home was built for Abraham Nail, a circus manager, who married Ida G. Rose. (Rose Cemetery land donors) His sister, Mariah, married John Mertz; together they toured in the circus. Mariah was just 36 inches tall and John approximately 10 inches taller. (768 N. Main)
(1902) Neo-Classical Revival house on a hill features a wraparound and elaborate pent gable-roofed dormer. The house was built for Philip Hanes who, along with his brother Benjamin, ran B.F. Hanes Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem. Hanes died from injuries received in an accident soon after construction ended. (1085 N. Main)
Along the way, the guides shared a dozen additional properties as well as fascinating historical tidbits not featured in the guide. For instance, have you ever heard of a Rosenwald School? Davie County had two of them.
Rosenwald Schools were established by Booker T. Washington, an ex-slave and Tuskeegee Institute Head, and Julius Rosenwald, the CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Company to provide educational opportunities to black communities. More than 5,300 school buildings were built in the early 1900s, 813 in NC. Tuskegee Institute professors created plans for the earliest Rosenwald buildings. Built at a total cost of $4,397, the North Cooleemee School was one of two Rosenwald schools in Davie County. A historic marker was installed on the site of the Cooleemee School and dedicated on September 22, 2012. The second school in Davie was on Martin Luther King Drive at the site of Central Davie.
Following the historic homes tour, the group continued down Main Street to learn more about the historical buildings downtown such as the Boger/Pure Oil Station, the former Princess Theatre & Hotel Mocksville, J.T Baity Store, and the Courthouse.
At Moser’s insistence, the tour ended with lunch at a local restaurant. The group chose Restaurant 101 and gave the food rave reviews. After lunch, many participants stayed in Mocksville a while longer to peruse the many unique shops.
During lunch, the group shared their enthusiasm about the tour.
“I think the tour was lovely. It is so nice to see the town, which I’ve just passed through on Main Street,” said Jacquelyn Bargoil. “I’d like to get our garden club to come back.”
Ann Parra agreed, saying, “I’ve driven through Mocksville so many times and loved the historic homes but didn’t know anything about them. It was so nice to learn more about this beautiful community.”
McAllister was equally pleased. “I was thrilled to have a group interested in taking the tour and delighted to share some of what I learned while working in the local history room of the library. That collection is a true community treasure and I embrace opportunities to share our local history in person and digitally. The group was clearly invested in the process, listening respectfully, asking good questions, and enjoying the stories of local folks. What a fun way to spend a day! Their donation to the history room was the cherry on top!”
Interested in taking a self-guided tour? The brochures are available in the Chamber’s Visitor Center at 135 S. Salisbury Street in Mocksville as well as at the library and many downtown businesses.
If you have a larger group interested in a guided tour, Moser invites you to contact her at email@example.com or by calling the Chamber at (336) 751-3304.
For additional information about the history of Davie County visit the Davie County Public Library Martin Wall Local History Room at 371 N. Main Street. To learn more about the Davie County Chamber of Commerce visit Daviechamber.com or call (336) 751-3304.