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.  

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Advantages of Urban Cottages

Versatility of Use
Urban cottages are small enough to be affordable, but large enough to support many different lifestyles, including single occupants, home offices, couples, couples with children, those needing a low maintenance lifestyle and those wanting a connection to the outdoors, those with multiple cars, and those taking advantage of other mean of transportation. With versatility comes the ability to live in the same home for many years and a broad spectrum of potential buyers when its time to sell.

Easy to finance
Single family homes have a greater number of financing methods available then any other housing type. This is a great advantage over the constantly changing financing restrictions for multifamily urban living options. It makes urban cottages easier to buy, easier to evaluate, and easer to sell.

Affordable, Quality Space
Urban cottages take advantage of and celebrate every space inside and out. Keeping thing small allows for the use of high quality finishes at reasonable costs. Scarcity of space promotes efficiency of it design and use. Money that is normally wasted on ostentatious and unnecessary square footage is used to create effective solutions to the demands of a modern lifestyle.

Each cottage is different and becomes more unique as it is changed over time to suit the needs and taste of its owner. It has its own street presence. Your home is the “green house, with the picket fence and big porch”, not the unit on the fifth floor, half way down the hall.

An urban house’s can be customized and improved approved to your taste. If can be expanded to fit your needs. Home owners can benefit from the added value of improvements that differentiate your home from the neighbor’s. The uniformity and restrictions of both urban multifamily units or suburban homes, reduces the ability to benefit from increases.

Of all the properties one’s home can have, charm is the most desirable. Charm makes a house a home. Charm is the result of subtly and taste, but it has a value that anyone can appreciate.  No housing type can compete with the charm of a historically detailed cottage with a porch and flower garden.

Community & Privacy
Urban cottages are built close together, creating a feeling of community and a place where you can sit on your front porch while chatting with a passer by. But if well designed, they also provide private indoor and outdoor spaces that give a sense of separateness without a feeling of being enclosed.

Manageable Exterior Spaces
All of us need a connection to the outdoors, but huge green yards are major environmental problem and are difficult and expensive to maintain. By contrast, a small urban lawn or garden can easily be maintained, or it can be turned into an incredible design feature for very little money and effort.

Green Living
Urban living is green living. All the transportation and infrastructure costs of suburban homes make urban homes inherently more efficient. Also, the typical cottage is made from materials with a much lower inherent energy cost then the cement and steel of a high rise. The efficient use of land and of interior space, the lack of common area construction costs, heating and lighting, and the use of high efficiency appliances and insulation makes urban cottage living one of the greenest lifestyles available.

Sunday, January 24, 2010



The first homes on Rosengarten Alley are now available for presale. Click here for more info