Monday, July 19, 2010

RP Residents Present Alternatives to Raleigh Union Station's Passenger Rail Task Force

The Raleigh City Council has asked the Passenger Rail Task force to make recommendations on a number of critical issues regarding the proposed Raleigh Union Station. One of these issues involves a controversial extension of West Street through a tunnel under the railroad tracks, and through the newly renovated homes on Saunders Street.

The justification for the potential demolition of our neighborhood comes in the form of a study generated by an out of state consulting company, which has labeled the option going through our neighborhood, the “preferred option”.

The residents of Rosengarten Park are working to convince city officials of the value in preserving this dynamic urban neighborhood as an important historical landmark and as a unique feature of Raleigh’s downtown core. We believe there are far better alternatives available that acheive the goals of the Union Station plan and city of Raleigh in general.

Specifically, we believe that the study is flawed for the following reasons:
  • The technical study set requirements that unnecessarily limited the design criteria for options other then the “preferred option”, falsely skewing the study in that direction.
  • The technical study excluded enormous costs that would be specifically associated with the ‘preferred option”, masking the fact that the actual cost would be far greater then the other options considered.
  • We also believe that the other options that are available offer a number of important advantages.
We consolidated most of our arguments into a presentation that has been forwarded to the task force members. Please take a look at our presenation and let us know what you think.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More History on Rosengarten Park

I stopped by the North Carolina State Archives last week to see if I could find some more historic information on Rosengarten Park. In particular, I wanted to see if I could establish the date the land was originally purchased prior to its subdivision. I was helped by Larry, one of the archivists working there. First he helped me locate a microfilmed index of deeds by name. Searching under "Rosengarten" I found a list of properties purchased between 1909 & 1919..

Next, we went to another microfilm file cabinet and began looking up the deeds by book and page. I found one deed that I first thought was for Rosengarten Park, but later realized it was for a nearby property. I decided to make a copy of it anyway because I found one clause so interesting. The deed was for a property in the Boylan Heights area, immediately to the West of Rosengarten Park. It specifically prohibits occupancy by "negroes, or persons of mixed negro blood" It was not news to me that black families were prevented from living up the hill, but it is a little shocking to see such blatant racism written out in a legal document.

I searched each deed from oldest to youngest until I located this deed between Charles & Anita Holland and Alex Rosengarten. I found several things of interest in the deed. The first thing that struck me was that the deed was not signed but was transferred by a "mark" or "X" that the seller made on the document. A mark is ordinarily a cross or X made in substitution for the signature of an individual who is unable to write. More on marks at 

The date of the deed is October 1914. The 1915 directory shows a number of residents living on Saunders, either indicating that they built the houses in that year, or that the houses were already there when he bought the land. The first recorded subdivision we could find was not recorded until 1919.

Next, the reference to the Fourth Ward of Raleigh intrigued me. At home, I searched for information about the Fourth Ward and found that in 1875 Raleigh was.gerrymandered into 4 wards as 'an attempt to nullify the negro vote by isolating it within a portion of the city" Race, ethnicity, and urbanization: selected essays By Howard N. Rabinowitz  The boundaries of the fourth ward  

Searching further for Fourth Ward of Raleigh, I also found that same year the ward was created, the Fourth Ward Republican Club, Of Raleigh sent a condolence letter to Mrs. Frederick Douglass, Anacostia, D. C. for the loss of her husband.   "Resolved, That the wisdom and ability which he exercised during the twenty years preceding the war, through his own papers, the North Star, and the one bearing his own name, and in teaching from abolitionist platforms the great truth that a slave had a mind worth educating and fitting for liberty, did, with his efforts after the war, help to keep alive the idea that a colored man, whether free or slave, is capable of intellectual development, and moral and social progress. Resolved, That the sudden removal of such a life leaves a shadow on our hearts, and in the world a vacancy which will be deeply realized by all the liberty-loving people of this great country, and which will prove a serious loss to the public."

Next I searched the reference to "Rex Hospital Land" and found this excerpt in Sketches of the Early History of Raleigh 
"The 'field pines,'(old field pines spring up when farm fields are abandoned) a few years ago standing on Gallows Hill (Bloomsbury Condo's site) and the Rex Hospital that they were once cultivated fields, while the ravines opening into Pigeon House and Rocky Branches (the creek by Rosengarten Alley is a tributary to Rocky Branch creek) were for some time covered with beach and poplar of large growth" parenthesis mine The picture is of a Beech Tree.       

I had heard that the Bloomsbury Condo site used to be called Gallows Hill and that people had been hung there during the civil war. Searching 'Gallows Hill Raleigh" I found a picture of the old "Gallows Hill Bridge" which used to be located where the Boylan Bridge Pub is now. 

Then I found a reference to the hangings that took place there: "a beam was placed between two pines on Gallows Hill, ..The unfortunate wretch was seated on his own coffin in a cart..for some years the criminal was left in the cart, and after adjustment of the rope the horse was driven from beneath the beam" The early history of Raleigh

While at the Vanished-Raleigh site, I also found this picture of the natural gas tank that used to be located at the right on Cabarrus in the PSNC site. I had heard about it before, but had never seen a picture. Notice how the frame for the tank is higher then the tank itself. I was told that the tank expanded and contracted maintaining a constant pressure while the amount of gas stored increased or decreased.

While still at the archive, I found a couple of maps that predate Rosengarten park, but show where it was eventually located. This map references Rex Hospital Land, and by comparing it to the next map, I was able to locate where Rosengarten site was on both maps. Note the creek that runs along Rosengarten Alley.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Tree Blooms in Boylan Heights

Many of you know that I used to live in this house at 620 W. Cabarrus, just up the street from Rosengarten Park.  Back in fall of 1998, my wife Amy brought home the last stunted tree from the sale rack at Lowes.  It cost $12.50.  Its crooked trunk was only an inch thick, and it had about 3 leaves.   We planted it in the median opposite the 20 year old crepe myrtle.  Each spring I would gauge its growth by sitting on the porch visually measuring its height in relation to the porch rail.   Yesterday I was driving down Florence St on the way to Rosengarten and was stunned to see the tree in full bloom, way taller then the porch rail, taller then the much older crepe myrtle and towering over the house itself.  While it might seem absurd, I take a great deal of pride in this tree.   I find it symbolic of the way our efforts to improve this small corner of the city have taken on a life of their own and it makes me look forward to the future when I will drive down the streets in Rosengarten Park and see all the improvements and life the new residents will bring to the area in the years to come.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

507 S. Saunders Finally Gets Started!

See this very brief video of the work starting on the foundation.

This is how the house will look when its complete.

You can also check out Dan & Amanda's blog

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Downtown Farmers Market Only 12 Minute Walk From Rosengarten Park

I noticed a post in the New Raleigh Blog this morning stating that the downtown farmers market will be moved to City Plaza on Fayettville Street.  Click here to read the article.  Google maps shows this as being only a 12 minute walk from Rosengarten Park.  See Walking Map.