Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Raleigh’s Own Castle

Remembering the Old Meredith College Building

Located across Blount Street from the historic Richard B. Haywood house is a sprawling, 4-acre state government surface parking lot. I can tell you, though, one of Raleigh’s most exuberant and impressive 19th century structures once occupied this site. I am speaking of course, of the main building of the erstwhile Baptist Female University, now known as Meredith College.

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A Ghost of Christmas Past

Photographing Raleigh’s Fayetteville St. Christmas Decorations

Holiday decorations on Fayetteville Street, Christmas 1965

A few nights ago John Morris and I visited Fayetteville St. and were bedazzled by the glittering Christmas lights lining the street.

I reminisced with John about the annual Raleigh Christmas parade which was held at night back in the 1960s (rather than on Saturday morning as it is now). My family would all head downtown for that event, and while Mom went shopping, Dad took my brothers and me to watch the parade.

We always staked out the corner at the Olivia Raney Library and Capitol Square. From that vantage point we could enjoy the parade as it made  its way up Hillsboro St., passed in front of the library before heading around the Square and then down Fayetteville St.

Afterwards, we would walk down Fayetteville St. to meet up with Mom. I remember being awestruck by the shimmering spectacle of the thousands of colored Christmas lights.

I related to John how I attempted back in 1965 to photograph the view down Fayetteville St. of the Christmas decorations at night. I found, however, that to my dismay, trying to capture all the colored lights on film was beyond the scope of my Kodak Instamatic camera.

Ultimately, the photograph ended up among the shuffle of the hundreds of photos I cranked out with my Instamatic back then. I only just recently ran across it again after all these years.

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Denizens of the Coal Yard

Not long ago I wrote about the Boylan wye, and described what remains of that former downtown train switchyard and industrial district. Today the most prominent relic there can be easily seen from the Boylan Ave bridge — a rusted cement plant gravel hopper towering over the site. But virtually invisible to most observers today is the weed-choked and debris-strewn sunken area that is the footprint of the former Smith Coal and Oil Co. coal yard.

This is a view of a portion of the Boylan wye from the bridge in 1970. The concrete plant is on the left and the coal yard is just right of center, below the two box cars. The present-day photo at the top shows the tracks the boxcars were parked on in 1970. The remnants of the coal yard are just to the right of these tracks.

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