WALTER Magazine - February 2017

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74 WALTER PROFILE The Preiss is right by Liza Roberts photographs by Christopher T. Martin

AT THE TABLE A Carolina oyster roast by Charles Upchurch photographs by Jillian Clark



RALEIGHITES Saint Augustine’s University: Staying the course at 150 by Henry Gargan photographs by Christopher T. Martin

STORY OF A HOUSE The Long View: A new purpose for the Poe House by Jessie Ammons photographs by Laura B. Hunter



BOOKS An excerpt: North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints by D.G. Martin

ARTIST’S SPOTLIGHT Ben Galata: Beauty forged by Hampton Williams Hofer photographs by Peter Hoffman




On the cover: “The Carolina oyster roast is a ritual that feeds my soul,” says writer Charles Upchurch. Photograph by Jillian Clark


Mastering the art of being connected As we open a new office in Chapel Hill, we are reminded that the people really do make the place. After nearly 50 years serving the Triangle area, our level of expertise and care in handling the real estate needs of our clients is truly unmatched. Our team is built on an honest approach, exceptional service, a thorough marketing platform and tremendous local knowledge. With a global network across 65 countries and exclusive corporate media partnerships, the power of our brand is evident. We look forward to serving you in 2017. 919.876.7411 | 3200 Wake Forest Road | Raleigh, NC 27609 | Each Office Is Independently Owned and Operated.


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Our Town On Duty: matchmaker Angela Kelley Shop Local: Mr. A’s Beignets The Usual: Solo Sisters Game Plan: Sassafras Playground by Jessie Ammons, Mimi Montgomery, and Liza Roberts photographs by Christer Berg and Ray Black III


Our Town Spotlight Fiddle-maker Mike Anderson by Mimi Montgomery photograph by Annie Cockrill



110 Givers Chris Budnick by Settle Monroe photograps by Christer Berg


The Ocracoke Tribe by Burke Koonce photographs by Missy McLamb

114 The Whirl Parties and fundraisers

130 3&5(-&9 with DJ Kristen Stoneman by Mimi Montgomery photograph by Jillian Clark

Through the Lens Raleigh cityscapes by Christer Berg




In Every Issue

The Green Light by Mimi Montgomery photographs by Keith Isaacs


Letter from the Editor




Your Feedback


The Mosh


Raleigh Now


Triangle Now

108 Unoaked A home in Raleigh by Mimi Montgomery


A timeless tribute to passionate romance

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or several years, we have had the honor of delivering our multipleaward-winning magazine to many of you free of charge. You have welcomed us into your home with enthusiasm. You have read our stories, sent us ideas, and helped us celebrate the best of Raleigh and the Triangle. You have attended our events – like our most recent Celebrate the Season event, pictured above – and made the magazine come to life in the process. Thank you! Now, we are asking all of you to become paid subscribers (if you aren’t already) in order to continue receiving WALTER in your mailbox. For $1 an issue, we will be proud to keep bringing you Raleigh’s best stories, told and delivered with flair. We hope and believe that we have earned your continued support. It takes the support of a community and a team to make WALTER come together and thrive. This month, we bid adieu to a linchpin of our editorial team, Mimi Montgomery (far right, above). We’re grateful that while she earns her masters in journalism at Georgetown, we will all continue to enjoy her sense of humor from afar, in the form of Unoaked, a regular column. Together with advertising account executives Martha Heath (far left) and Cristina Baker (third from left); event and account coordinator Kait Gorman (center front); creative director Jesma Reynolds (third from right); advertising director Denise Walker (second from right); and assistant editor Jessie Ammons (not pictured), we will keep working hard to make WALTER the very best chronicler of this great place and time. Please continue to be a WALTER reader. Please subscribe today at All the best,

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Liza Roberts Editor & General Manager

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LIZA ROBERTS Editor & General Manager Creative Director JESMA REYNOLDS Assistant Editor JESSIE AMMONS Community Manager MIMI MONTGOMERY



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Advertising Director DENISE WALKER

Advertising Account Executive CRISTINA BAKER



Event and Account Coordinator KAIT GORMAN

Advertising Design and Production

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Administration CINDY HINKLE Published 10 times a year by The News & Observer Publishing Co. A McClatchy Company, 215 S. McDowell St., Raleigh NC 27601

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FEBRUARY 2017 Walter is distributed without charge to select Wake County households and available by paid subscriptions at $10 a year in the United States, as well as for purchase at Quail Ridge Books and other retail locations. For customer service inquiries, please email us at or call 919-836-5661. Address all correspondence to Walter Magazine, 215 S. McDowell St., Raleigh NC 27601. Walter does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Please contact editor and general manager Liza Roberts at for freelance guidelines. © The News & Observer. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the copyright owner.





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Jillian Clark is an editorial and portrait photographer based in Raleigh. She is an advocate for people with trichotillomania and schizoaffective disorder. In this issue, she photographed DJ Kristen Stoneman for Snapchat and Charles Upchurch’s oyster roast for At the Table. She says the latter was a memorable shoot. “I’d never been to an oyster roast before. I was greeted by Milo, the family cat, warming by the fire. The roast was totally a family, community, and neighborhood effort.”

CHARLES UPCHURCH / W R I T E R Charles Upchurch is a Raleigh-based writer who works in sports PR. A regular contributor to WALTER, he covers the worlds of beer, cocktails, adventure, and the sporting life. He is a devoted fan of Frank Sinatra, J.P. Donleavy, UNC, sons Devlyn and Blake, and his wife, Kristin. This month, he wrote about a beloved pastime for At the Table. “Oyster roasts have always had a sentimental appeal for me. I’m reminded of how connected we are to the water and our long history here in North Carolina. There are a lot of rituals in American life, and it’s one of the best.”


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Henry Gargan is a reporter at The News and Observer; he also worked at Newsday in New York as a Dow Jones News Fund intern and at 5280 Magazine in Denver as an editorial intern. He still works as a freelance sportswriter in the area. He covered Saint Augustine’s University in this issue. “The most difficult questions I had to ask for this story were ‘Why is Saint Augustine’s important?’ and ‘Why are HBCUs important?’ I felt I had to ask them, because I’ve heard and seen things that suggest some folks feel they aren’t, but I also knew the chancellor of UNC or the president of Duke, for instance, would never be asked to justify the existence of their universities,” he says. “I am grateful to everyone at Saint Aug’s for their patience with me, and I encourage anyone with a similar hole in their understanding to drop by and learn more.”

CHRISTER BERG / P H O T O G R A P H E R Christer Berg is a Raleigh-based professional people and portrait photographer, sometimes in the studio but often on location. He captured many subjects this month, including the folks that give downtown its character in Through the Lens. “Downtown Raleigh is going through an amazing transformation,” he says of his inspiration, “and I wanted to document the people and places before they are gone or have been pushed out from downtown. It felt natural to photograph only using black-and-white film in 35mm and mediumformat film cameras. It’s been great wandering the streets photographing, getting to know many of the longtime characters and to hear their stories.”

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@WALTERMAGAZINE Great profile of @UpperNeuseRK in @WalterMagazine today. Riverkeepers fight every day for #cleanwaterforall. –@briandpowell (Dec./Jan., p. 56) Thanks @WalterMagazine for featuring the historic and beautiful house that I’m able to call home. You’re all invited in for a look! –@MargaretEdu (Dec./Jan., p. 66) Can never get too much holiday design inspiration; Amazing feature @WalterMagazine, cc: @catnguyenphoto –@isadw (Dec./Jan., p. 66) Great article. Margaret has done a beautiful job with the house. –Merrill Rose (Dec./Jan., p. 66) Thanks to the @WalterMagazine for the awesome profile on our Papa Lou! Stunning location pic. #hardworkpaysoff –@TavernaAgora (Dec./Jan., p. 92) Great article on #artist @McRayStudios in issue of @WalterMagazine –@JLTCommGroup (Dec./Jan., p. 106) Great article in @WalterMagazine about #RaleighGivingParty –@MLoftheTriangle (Dec./Jan., p. 114) Great @WalterMagazine piece on this year’s #RaleighGivingParty, which we’re honored to attend. –@carrollsraleigh (Dec./Jan., p. 114) THANKS to @WalterMagazine for showcasing our 2016 Launch Concert with @ncsymphony in “The Whirl”! –@kidz_notes (Dec./Jan., p. 120)

We want to hear from you! @WalterMagazine

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OPEN HOUSE DATES: March 25-26, April 1-2, April 8-9 Located in Downtown Raleigh – at the corner of E. Hargett and S. Bloodworth Streets – a community of nineteen rowhomes designed for the resident desiring the advantages of a downtown lifestyle coupled with the grace of historic living. An exceptional interpretation of urban living filled with fresh ideas from Raleigh’s leading designers. Works of art on display from the artists of Artspace – Landscaping ideas from Bland Landscaping. BENEFITTING THE SOUTHEAST RALEIGH YMCA Be the first to visit the home at a Benefit Preview Party, March 24th For information and ticket sales please visit:


“The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within.” –William C. Bryant


WHAT YOU TACO-IN’ ABOUT? Move over, hot dog carts. El Taco Cartel is a bike-driven taco stand owned by Lily Ballance of William & Co. and Justin Miller. Customers can arrange their own tacos, picking out fillings and toppings, and can order tacos for delivery, too. Find the cart during lunchtime parked at the 500 block of Fayetteville Street downtown; at night, it’s parked outside of William & Co. to feed those latenight munchies. And stay tuned: Ballance and Miller are hoping to open a permanent spot near City Market. Follow El Taco Cartel on Twitter at @ Taco_Cartel for updates and events.

FEBRUARY FEELS It’s the Age of Aquarius – if you were born between Jan. 20 and Feb. 18, that is. Those born under this sign are inventive, intellectual, and march to the beat of their own drum. They’re trendsetters with a strong humanitarian streak, a combination that results in making social impact. Raleigh Aquarians should get involved with local organizations or volunteer; their innovation could lead to real community development. Find Triangle volunteering options by visiting Pisces are ruled by the water sign and born between Feb. 19 and March 20. Symbolized by two fish, one swimming upward, the other downward, Pisces often feel tugged in separate directions, a situation that can lead toward escapism. However, this also means they can excel in creative fields such as film, acting, or photography. Oak City Pisces should consider getting involved in community theater or taking a local art class – important outlets for this creative group. Find local art classes at; Wake Tech also offers a variety of continuing education classes at waketech. edu/programs-courses/noncredit.



Green thumb or not, all are welcome at The North Carolina Botanical Garden at UNC-Chapel Hill. A leader in native plant conservation and education, the group offers monthly classes all about the world of flora and fauna. This month, sit in on a crash course in botany, taxonomy, and anatomy, or check out a vegetable gardening workshop. There’s a little something for the nature-lover in everyone. For a full list of courses, visit

TREAT-N-GREET Wilton couple Julia and Thomas Blaine are the duo behind Strong Arm Baking. They sell their artisanal breads, pies, pastries, and cakes throughout the area, using only the best local and seasonal ingredients. Pick some up for yourself at 42 & Lawrence in Raleigh or Back Alley Coffee Roasters in Wake Forest – if nothing else, stop by for their out-of-this-world chocolate chess pie. You heard it here first.

Candy hearts… Stopping by the $1 bookstore on Hillsborough Street… Fueling the local burn with a candle from Oak City Candles…A peek at Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow on February 2…A glass of wine by the outdoor fireplace at Vita Vite…Treating yourself to an amethyst trinket for February’s birthstone…A line of poetry…Hosting an Academy Awards viewing party Feb. 26…A pair of cozy cashmere socks...Sipping a beer and watching a movie at Mission Valley Cinema...

LAND DOWN UNDER The Triangle Troglodytes, a chapter of the National Speleological Society for eastern North Carolina cavers, is headed to Smyth County, Va. for some spelunking the weekend of Feb. 17 - 19. The group says its members are motivated to go underground for a variety of reasons, including “passion for exploration, physical exertion, appreciation for the passage of time, adrenaline rushes, interest in unusual biology, photographic challenges, love of obstacle courses, obsession with ropes, fascination with digging into unknown spaces, (and) the chance to unravel physical mysteries.”

HOMEGROWN ART Raleigh artist Caroline Boykin is making the Triangle a more colorful place. She’s known for her bright abstract pieces, nudes, and “pouts,” which combine her abstract face studies with her love of ceramics; in all, texture, color, and shape play key roles. Pieces are for sale on her website, and she is available for commissions, too; see some of her work on display at Vita Vite wine bar.

courtesy El Taco Cartel (TACO); News & Observer archives (BLOOM); Thinkstock (CANDY HEART); Gene J. Puskar (GROUNDHOG); Darina13 (ASTROLOGICALSIGNS); courtesy Strong Arm Baking (TREAT); Southeastern Cave Conservancy (CAVE); Caroline Boykin(ART)


THE SUBMARINER The quintessential divers’ watch has embodied the historic ties between Rolex and the underwater world since 1953. It doesn’t just tell time. It tells history.



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courtesy France Pavilion




France Pavilion


ARKET HALL IN DOWNTOWN’S HISTORIC CITY MARKET will transform into a pavillon of modern art this month. France Pavilion, a seller of art, will bring a touring exhibition of French contemporary works to Raleigh Feb. 9 - 12. The weekend is full of style, from artist meetand-greets to a French brunch with a lecture by the show’s curator. While the artists’ heritage is French, they hail from widespread places including Spain and the U.S. Aficionados can attend the opening nuit du champagne VIP reception, co-hosted with American Friends du Chateau de Compiègne, where remarks will be made by Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and France Consul General to the U.S. Southeast Louis de Corail. There’s also a ticketed wine and cheese tasting Saturday afternoon. General admission to the exhibition is free throughout the weekend. –Jessie Ammons VIP reception: Feb. 10; 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.; $100 Wine and cheese tasting: Feb. 11; 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.; $25;


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Adams, Half Dome, Merced River, Winter, Yosemite National Park, California

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More than 15,000 family members are caring for an older adult in Raleigh.

Iconic photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams spent five decades capturing national parks and other natural settings throughout the country from the 1920s to the ’60s. Near the end of his career, he selected 48 photographs that he considered representative of his best work. This striking collection, The Museum Set, will be at the North Carolina Museum of Art Feb. 4 - May 7. It’s ticketed along with the Glory Of Venice show that opens in March, so when you visit this month you’ll receive a voucher to return again. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesdays Sundays, except 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Fridays; $18; 2110 Blue Ridge Road;

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If cabin fever is bogging you down, try something new to break a sweat at Raleigh Raw’s weekly hip hop workout classes at HEAT on Glenwood South. The cold-pressed juice company, which has grown a cult following with its downtown cafe serving poké bowls, chia pudding, smoothies, and other healthy treats, is eager to get your heart racing with its Wednesday night workouts. Meet at HEAT Studios in Glenwood South for an intermediate hip hop fitness class led by a teacher from 9th Street Dance Studio in Durham. 8:15 - 9:15 p.m.; $120 for 8-week packages; 400 Glenwood Ave.; raleighraw. com/hip-hop

Ansel Adams (VISTA); courtesy Raleigh Raw (DANCE)

Are you one of them?



ARIEL AND FRIENDS The Carolina Ballet goes under the sea with its mesmerizing production of The Little Mermaid Feb. 2 - 19. Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale, featuring a young mermaid willing to risk all she has for love, comes to life through elegant choreography with an original score by Michael Moricz. Showtimes vary; $30 - $90; Fletcher Opera Theater, 2 E. South St.;

Armes Photography (AREIL); Thinkstock (GERMAN)

4 GERMAN STORY TIME When it’s too cold to go outside and play, flex your mental muscles instead. Quail Ridge Books hosts monthly sessions with nonprofit CarolinaKinder, which teaches children to speak German. Saturday morning gatherings are geared toward ages 8 and under; they usually last half an hour and include story time, songs, games, and crafts. This month’s storytime is Feb. 4; no German experience is necessary. 10:30 a.m.; free; 4209-100 Lassiter Mill Road;

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RUN, SCARF, REPEAT What began as a lark among college friends at N.C. State has become a national sensation. The annual Krispy Kreme Challenge requires participants to run two-and-a-half miles from N.C. State’s belltower to the Krispy Kreme on Person Street, eat a dozen donuts, and then run back. This year’s Feb. 4 event will likely sell out and always earns coverage by the likes of ESPN. There’s also the option of registering as a casual runner (which you can do as last-minute as race morning). That way you can jog to Krispy Kreme and carry your box of donuts back. 8 a.m.; $40; 2011 Hillsborough St.;

Classical meets folk music – with a global influence – when the Kruger Brothers come to Meymandi Concert Hall Feb. 9. The bluegrassy trio frequently collaborates with string ensembles, and for this performance, they’ll welcome the Kontras Quartet to share the stage. Kontras means contrasts in Afrikaans, and the Quartet composes and plays music both traditionally classical and internationally funky. Together, the bands will perform a soulful, unique set. 8 p.m.; $27 - $37; 2 E. South St.;

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Ben McKeown (DONUTS); Jens Kruger (STRINGS)


Mark Manring (LOVE); g-stock studio (CHOP)





LOVE IS IN THE AIR Get ready for Valentine’s Day by attending the North Carolina Master Chorale Chamber Choir’s concert Feb. 11. Their annual love-themed lineup includes Rat Pack tunes including songs by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. The 16-voice group accompanies its performance with piano, bass, and drums. 4 and 8 p.m.; $20; Kenan Recital Hall at William Peace University, 15 Peace St.;

Volunteers are invited to spend a morning cutting and delivering firewood to low-income residents of Wake County at Warmth for Wake Feb. 11 and 25. This is an opportunity for the strong and able-bodied: Three-anda-half-hour sessions are spent chopping and splitting wood at either the North or East Raleigh work site, then delivering firewood to neighborhoods throughout the city. Volunteers must be at least 15 years old and warmy dressed, as most of the work is outside! 8:30 a.m. - 12 noon; free;


HORSING AROUND Shepherd Youth Ranch


ORE THAN 20,000 CHILDREN IN WAKE COUNTY are affected by or are suffering from trauma, are underserved, and are in need, Shepherd Youth Ranch statistics show. The nonprofit’s mission is to help. The faith-based organization partners children and their families with horse “counselors” for equine therapy and riding sessions. The group also has a program specifically for low-income children with special education needs who use horsemanship as a means of connecting, focusing, and learning. In 2016, the ranch provided over 140 free sessions of equine-assisted therapy to autistic children, served over 50 people in its equine counseling for trauma program, and provided weekly sessions to children struggling with anger management. Its volunteer base increased by almost 100. This month, there’s another way to get involved: The organization will host its second-annual Triangle Indoor Tailgate Polo Tournament fundraiser Feb. 4 at James B. Hunt Jr. Horse


courtesy Shepherd Youth Ranch


Complex. During the polo match, tables overlooking the arena will be available for purchase, which attendees can then deck out with festive dishes, beverages, and decor. There’s a reason to go all out: Tables will be judged in categories of best food, best signature drinks, best dressed table, and best overall theme. “Last year we had a table where participants dressed like the Harlem ‘Slow’ Trotters right next to a black-tie ‘Run for the Roses’-themed table,” says development director Abby McCabe. “Everyone had a blast.” In between chukkers (periods of the polo game), live music and games will round out the sporting day. The ranch hopes to raise $350,000 by August 2017 to provide a permanent facility for its mission. The raised funds will also help the nonprofit increase its programming quality and audience by 300 percent. –Mimi Montgomery Feb. 4, 4 - 7 p.m.; James B. Hunt Jr. Horse Complex, 1025 Blue Ridge Road; to purchase tickets or buy a table, visit


12 12 Teri Saylor (DOWNTOWN); Patrick Thompson (ACCOUSTIC); courtesy Videri Chocolate (VIDERI); Thinkstock (POEHLER)

DOWNTOWN ROUTE Run away from the winter blues at the Run for the Roses 5K on Feb. 12. The annual event benefits a different charity each year, and this year’s proceeds support Canines for Service, which trains service dogs for those with limited mobility; it also supports Team Red, White, and Blue NC, which connects veterans to their communities through physical activities. This race takes place on a Sunday afternoon, and female runners receive a red rose upon crossing the finish line. 2 p.m.; $30; Dorothea Dix Park, 805 Ruggles Drive;

ACCOUSTIC HARMONIES The sounds of a flute and a guitar combine surprisingly well to create a unique take on chamber music. Hear for yourself at the Cypress Duo concert on Feb. 12. Amanda Taylor and Justin Hoke are both professional musicians from Wilmington; a few times a year, they break from teaching and solo work to perform acoustically driven duets. 2 - 5 p.m.; $15; 3800 Hillsborough St.; season-events

LOVE, ACTUALLY HEY LADIES Gather your gal pals on Feb. 13 to commemorate Galentine’s, an occasion memorialized on the television show Parks and Recreation by Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope: “Every February 13, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies.”

14 VIDERI VALENTINE’S Celebrate Valentine’s Day without too much fuss by popping into the Videri Chocolate Factory downtown. The chocolatemaking operation also has a cozy coffee shop with hot chocolate and baked goodies, normally open from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. weekdays. On Valentine’s Day (a Tuesday), the space stays open until 10 p.m. and serves champagne and special festive bonbons and treats. 327 W. Davie St.;

PRE-ARRANGED The English Garden florist hosts a floral design class on Feb. 22 called The Firestarter. Ride the postValentine’s wave of vibrant hues and create a colorful take-home bouquet. Sign up at TREAT YOURSELF Splurge on a special something for your sweetie – or, hey, yourself – at Quercus Studio downtown, which just celebrated its third anniversary. At the studio of goldsmith Lauren Ramirez, find her lowkey fine jewelry for sale with a selection of rotating wares from other jewelers, potters, and artists.


STAYIN’ ALIVE Don’t miss the stage adaptation of the Disco-era film Saturday Night Fever. The musical is here Feb. 14 - 19 and full of earworm classics including Stayin’ Alive, More Than a Woman, and How Deep Is Your Love. Sequins and groovy dance moves are a guarantee. 7:30 p.m. and weekend 2 p.m. matinees; $25 and up; 1 E. South St.;

15 TOBACCO ROAD RIVALRY The last N.C. State - UNC men’s basketball face-off aired on ESPN last month, and this next go-round is on the Wolfpack’s home court. Root for your team at PNC Arena Feb. 15, or just grab a box of popcorn and enjoy the final weeks of the season before March Madness. 8 p.m.; $31 and up; 1400 Edwards Mill Road;

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Carol Rosegg (ALIVE); courtesy N.C. State Athletics (TOBACCO)





courtesy North Carolina Symphony (MODERN); Associated Press (SHEN)

The N.C. Symphony’s less traditional concerts – like The Romantic Nights show Feb. 17 and 18 – make for a fun change of pace. The symphony will play romantic orchestral favorites and classic pop culture love songs, including music from Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, and Gone With the Wind. 8 p.m.; $20 - $80; 2 E. South St.;

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25-26 SHEN YUN Ancient Chinese culture is the theme at Shen Yun Feb. 25 and 26. The show is driven by classically choreographed dance, accompanied by traditional sounds and bright staging. The New York-based dance and music company tours widely and is one of the country’s few exclusively Chinese-focused troupes. 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; $70 - $150; 2 E. South St.;

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ROBERT Christer Berg

FRITZ Art underfoot


OBERT FRITZ MIGHT CALL HIMSELF AN UNLIKELY ART dealer. “Handmade rugs are art, they’re not just a floor covering,” says the owner and founder of Robert Fritz Oriental Rugs, a specialty shop in Five Points. “There are so many steps in the process of making a rug, from actually catching and shearing the sheep to dyeing the wool, weaving the finishing. There are different thicknesses of yarns and every rug has a different composition. It is absolutely as much an art form as the more traditional types, (such as) oil paintings and sculpture.” The artisan quality of rugs is what first captivated Fritz more than four decades ago, when he worked in northern Afghanistan as an English teacher with the Peace Corps. “In my off time, I found myself hanging out with rug sellers and learning about rugs,” he recalls. “I found it fascinating.” He returned to his native North Carolina and worked in public policy and early


childhood centers; in his free time, he became a devoted antique rug collector and then a part-time employee for an estate furnishings company. Fritz says he couldn’t – and still can’t – resist “the romance” of the rug business: the connection to place found with each yarn type choice, he says, and the way the right rug can anchor a space. Fritz made his hobby his living by founding Robert Fritz Oriental Rugs in 2001. At his cozy shop, Fritz keeps a limited amount of inventory because, like art, the right rug choice is personal. “My focus is really very individual. When people come into my gallery, I have rugs and samples to show them, but I want to know what they like. I want to know what their home is like.” He’s spent decades, ever since the time he lived in Afghanistan, forming producer relationships so that he can source the perfect choice. “Most of the rugs I sell, probably something like 80 percent, I bring in. And even then, the client is under no obli-


courtesy Robert Fritz

gation to pay for the shipping or the rug. If it comes in and it just doesn’t work in the space, I understand. We’ll try again.” Fritz prides himself on that tailored approach. He doesn’t open his doors until 11 a.m., “not because I like to come to

Fritz in Afghanistan during the Peace Corps



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work late,” he says with a chuckle, but because he often spends his mornings making home visits. And at 64, Fritz runs the business entirely himself. “I do all of the shipping, all of the deliveries. I do it all.” Fritz hopes to expand his staff soon, a decision he doesn’t take lightly. “This is such a specialty field. You’ve got to have an interest in antique rugs and also an updated knowledge of how rugs are currently made.” For now, he’ll continue to share his passion with his customers. “I’m the unusual case – when someone walks in, I really don’t care about selling something in the room. I just want the client to be happy.” –Jessie Ammons Fritz says February is the prime time to jump-start spring cleaning, beginning with your rugs, and he can help; learn more at







LI LIght ght


Singing about romance


NTI-ESTABLISHMENT ROMANTICS, REJOICE! HERE’S A Valentine’s Day event just for you – one decidedly more interesting than Hallmark cards and drugstore chocolates. The Love Hangover is a day-after event celebrating love in all its many forms. The heartbroken, the honeymooners, the singles, and the longtimers – all are welcome to this Feb. 15 jam-fest where local musicians pair up duet-style, take to Kings downtown, and perform songs all about l-o-v-e. “The Love Hangover has always been about examining romance, love, and sex, all staples of not just rock music but most music,” says founder Richard Alwyn. “To me, even the seemingly throwaway sentiments of some candy-coated pop songs have something more to offer when you hear them in the voice of the world-weary cynic or the true-believer romantic.” Alwyn started the event in 2000 while living in Raleigh. He knew that love, like a hangover, is one of life’s great equalizers: Both knock you down, but wasn’t it fun the night before?

Jonny Gillette

LOVE HANGOVER His insight struck a chord. Seventeen years, 43 shows, and 400-plus performances later, the hangover just won’t quit. Performances are now hosted across the continent in New York, Kansas City, Mo., Ann Arbor, Mich., Chicago, and Toronto. Each city puts its own spin on things, and Raleigh is no exception. Local performers Alexis Price and Stuart McLamb, Reese McHenry and Charles Latham, Caroline Mamoulides and Steve Howell, and Katie Stephens and Dave Wright will be at this year’s Oak City event. Just like the event’s loyal participants, Alwyn knows there are always more questions to ask about love. “Some people said, ‘Oh, now that you’re married I guess you won’t be doing The Love Hangover anymore,’ but only someone who’s never been married would think like that,” he says. “Getting married doesn’t mean you’ve solved the big questions of romance, it’s more like starting graduate school.” The Love Hangover may not immediately cure a broken heart or give you all the answers, but it’s sure to be a lot of fun. And, a lot like love, there’s something for everyone – just don’t blame us if the hangover continues into the next day. –Mimi Montgomery

Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show; Kings, 14 W. Martin St.; $8 all ages;


D e s i g n i n g a n d B u i l d i n g t h e We l c o m e H o m e s i n c e 1 9 8 4


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STREETSCAPES Next time you visit Chapel Hill, pay attention to the crosswalks downtown. Since early winter, the town has been installing artist-designed walkways at key high-traffic areas. Almost three dozen local artists vied for the honor, and the winning designs marry local flavor – Carolina blue and Old Well references – with eye-catching designs that are practical from a safety perspective. How’s that for public art?

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Designed by Racheal Herrick


all month


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Budding outdoor enthusiasts should consider joining the Wake Audubon Young Naturalist Club. The program, geared for 12-to18-year-olds, suits teenagers with a keen interest in natural sciences. At least once a month, the group gathers for an organized excursion, from free activities in local museums to daylong hiking treks and an overnight trip to the coast. Membership is free, as are many of the activities: Join this month to be in the know about upcoming springtime endeavors, including an owl prowl that concludes with s’mores around the campfire (March 3). Free;

courtesy Racheal Herrick (STREET); John Gerwin (CONTEXT)



courtesy Town of Cary (DATE); Chris Seward (DR. KING); John Rottet (FILM)



Cary’s annual daddy-daughter dance is an excuse for girls ages 4 - 12 and their fathers to get dolled up and enjoy a special evening together. Girls don their favorite dresses for twirling to music from a local DJ. A photo booth creates keepsake images of the night. 6 - 9 p.m.; $39 per couple and $17 per additional daughter; Cary Senior Center, 120 Maury O’Dell Place, Cary; call 919.462.3970 or visit

DR. KING PARADE Black History Month kicks off with a parade near downtown Durham Feb. 4. Beginning and ending at W.G. Pearson Elementary School, the lineup includes local marching bands, step teams, dance groups, school and church groups, as well as nonprofits. Each year the parade has a unique theme, and this year’s is “remaining awake through the great revolution,” based on a sermon given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in March of 1968. 12 noon - 2 p.m.; free; 3501 Fayetteville St., Durham; Annual-NC-MLK-Black-History-Month-Parade/82736

all month

AFRICAN-AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL Each year during Black History Month, the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham hosts a film festival. The historic Hayti community was a thriving pocket of early Durham civic life, and the film festival mid-month honors the cultural legacy by showcasing short and feature-length films by and about people of African descent. The lineup always includes discussions pre- and post-filmviewing, too. Times vary; free; 804 Old Fayetteville St., Durham;


Lauren Van Hemert



STORYTELLING Bella Bolsa Designs


IFE OFTEN IMITATES ART, BUT IN THE CASE OF LAUREN VAN Hemert’s accessories company Bella Bolsa, it’s the other way around. The Raleighite makes and sells custom handbags with printed fabrics she designs herself, incorporating found objects like labels, postage stamps, and letters. Van Hemert has always been interested in art and design, she says, and when she moved to Raleigh 15 years ago, the stay-at-home mom started to make jewelry. From there, it was a natural transition to turn her love for ephemera into fabrics. She hit her stride when her focus turned personal: While planning her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration, Van Hemert unearthed photo albums filled with their love letters, notes, and cards. She scanned the pieces into Photoshop,

layered them, and sent the collection to be printed on fabric. The result was a bag featuring her parents’ love story; she posted it on her Etsy shop, was overwhelmed with positive feedback, and found her calling. You, too, can tote around your favorite memories. Send Van Hemert whichever keepsakes you’d like, and she’ll create a made-to-order Bella Bolsa bag uniquely yours. “People take solace in nostalgia,” says Van Hemert. “I love creating functional pieces that tell a story and are as unique as the person carrying it.” Take a peek at the Bella Bolsa line for yourself: Van Hemert will host a trunk show Feb. 3 at Artspace. –Mimi Montgomery Feb. 3, 6 - 9 p.m.; Artspace; 201 E. Davie St.;

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DINNER AND A SHOW The Garner Performing Arts Center transforms into a jazz club Feb. 11 when Triangle-based Tea Cup Gin performs. The trio will perform indie-jazz numbers inspired by Deco-era jazz, tin pan alley arrangements, ragtime and Delta Blues sounds, cabaret music, and even show tunes. There will be a catered Italian buffet and beer and wine for purchase. It’s dinner and a show combined. 6:30 - 9:30 p.m.; $40; Garner Performing Arts Center, 742 W. Garner Road, Garner;


TO DYE FOR Learn the process of dyeing with natural indigo at the Durham Arts Council Feb. 11. Indigo has been used for centuries to produce a rich spectrum of blue hues. You’ll learn the three major components of the natural dye process: scouring, mordanting, and dyeing. Ultimately, you’ll put your favorite techniques to the test on a skein of wool or alpaca yarn that you get to take home. 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.; $27 plus a $30 materials fee; 120 Morris St., Durham; call 919.560.2726 or visit

Jill Knighr (TEA); Diana Cathcart (DYE)



courtesy Gregg Museum of Art and Design



ROOTS The Gregg Tree Project


ISE PEOPLE KNOW THAT WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU lemons, you make lemonade. The Gregg Museum of Art and Design at N.C. State knows that when a massive building renovation forces you to fell a pair of beloved oak trees, you make art from the remains. The university museum tapped Raleigh sculptor Ann Cowperthwaite to create a bench from the trunk of a 9,000-pound oak tree that had to come down to make way for the new Gregg. The museum’s new home is taking shape on the


site – and within many of the walls – of the former chancellor’s residence on Hillsborough Street. It’s a move that has been in the works since 2010 and under construction since summer 2015, and will result in a stately space almost twice as big as the museum’s former location in the Talley Student Union. Because of what Gregg Director Roger Hanley calls a “very mature landscape” on the site – “the hedges were so high and dense that supposedly people who worked right across Hillsborough Street from the lot had no idea there was a building beyond all those shrubs,” he says – a handful of large trees planted in the ’30s had to be cut. “There was some sense of upset,” Hanley says, “and we resolved to try to do something with a couple of them, if possible.” The museum put out a request for proposals for an installation that would be “somehow useful,” Hanley says, while also honoring “the place, the trees, and enhancing the museum’s works of art.” Among the proposals was Ann Cowperthwaite’s organic design that transforms half of a tree trunk into a bench, with a 12-foot-tall column at one end emblazoned with the prose of poem Widening Circles by Rainer Maria Wilke. Cowperthwaite and her husband own Eidolon Designs, where they work on

craft-based architecture projects and furniture design. Her background is in sculpture, and she says she’s long been inspired by “the kinship of the human form, human nature, and the forms of nature, particularly trees.” She says it was a natural fit to submit a proposal to the Gregg. Her design is admittedly “huge.” It retains the tree trunk’s dimensions “so as to call to mind its original grandeur,” a costly undertaking beyond the scope of the Gregg’s proposed budget. Because of its cost, all involved were surprised when it was selected. With the museum’s support, the artist herself has taken it upon herself to raise funds for its completion, a $40,000-plus endeavor that curators, administrators, and artists alike say is a necessary labor of love. “It’s is an unprecedented way to go about getting a piece of public art up,” says Cowperthwaite. “This is about … reminding the community to pay attention to regrowth and repurposing, and to pay attention to art.” With such a massive undertaking, she knew she needed allies. Local design studio Arrowhead offered to collaborate with Eidolon, beginning a snowball effect as support grew for what’s been dubbed “the Gregg Tree Project.” “Had it been just me, I might not have stuck with this,” Cowperthwaite says. “It’s been a group effort, I can’t say that loudly enough. This is about people, all of whom have been in Raleigh a long time, who are excited about the growth and development of the Gregg and of the city, and who all want to be a part of creative energy.” If all goes according to plan, the project’s fundraising goal will be met by May and the artists will spend three months building it. “Every time the log is moved or turned or lifted, it has to be hoisted mechanically,” Cowperthwaite says. Hanley hopes to have the piece in place just prior to the museum’s grand re-opening, which is (very) tentatively set for late August. “Like any outdoor wooden object, I don’t expect it to last forever,” Hanley says. “But if those trees can serve a purpose for a while, then I feel like the project will have achieved what we hoped it would.” His sentiment echoes the artist’s. “Nothing lasts forever, and this tree trunk has already been cut,” Cowperthwaite says. “It’s already laying down and there’s already been decay. But there can be new life in it for a period of time that only nature will determine. I do think this is a purposeful piece. It will be a testament to the Gregg, and their wanting to salvage something that they had not expected to come down.” If the team exceeds their fundraising goal, all extra proceeds will go back to the Gregg. “This is for anybody who loves art, or who’s committed to N.C. State, or bringing awareness to environmental issues,” Cowperthwaite says. “This is for anybody who wants a vibrant community. It’s also for people who just want a place to sit outside the museum.” –Jessie Ammons To learn more and to support the Gregg Tree Project, visit






MORE BELLY LAUGHS Local and budding talent at the N.C. Comedy Arts Festival might whet your appetite for Jay Leno, who will be at DPAC in Durham Feb. 17. The late-night television host still puts on a hilariously memorable stand-up comedy act, peppered by pop culture references. This show will likely sell out quickly. 7:30 p.m.; $55 - $285; 123 Vivian St., Durham;

SHOP HOUNDS SHIFTING LOCALE Decor destination Eatman’s Carpets and Interiors has moved its showroom. Long located on Glenwood Avenue, the new digs are at 2641 Noblin Road, just off of the Beltline near Raleigh Boulevard and Yonkers Road. Head there for lighting, furniture, and rug selections, including local line vanCollier.

17 STAGVILLE UNDER THE STARS Just outside of Durham is Stagville, once one of the largest plantations in the South with some 900 enslaved people and almost 30,000 acres of land. Today, the land is a preserved historic site with restored houses from the 18th and 19th centuries. Visit after dark on Feb. 17, when experts from Morehead Planetarium will present a guided stargazing program focused on the night sky myths and legends told in African cultures. The leaders add modern scientific context to this Black History Month event. 6 - 8 p.m.; free; 5828 Old Oxford Highway, Durham;


MAKERS’ MECCA Save a trip to Michael’s and visit Raleigh’s local version instead. Craft Habit is open on Martin Street downtown featuring high-quality crafting supplies and tools. The space is also a workshop venue for classes ranging from basic (“get to know your sewing machine”) to enthusiast (block-printing notebooks). There are youth offerings and track-out camps, too. TRUCK STOP The Flourish Market, a boutique-on-wheels that sells clothes and jewelry made by artisans in vulnerable communities, has a new brick-and-mortar store. The shop on Tucker Street has not replaced the fashion truck, but rather expanded it with more inventory and a permanent gathering space.

RISK! Podcast (BELLY); courtesy DPAC (MORE); Allexxandar (STAGVILLE); courtesy Eatman’s Carpets (SHIFTING)

Stand-up comedy fans shouldn’t miss the N.C. Comedy Arts Festival Feb. 15 - 26. Held at DSI Comedy Theater in downtown Chapel Hill, the event has become one the country’s top showcases for budding talent. Branch out and sign up for a workshop, or just purchase a general admission ticket that puts you on standby to attend most of the festival’s shows. Times vary; $10 - $25; 462 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill;


Corey Lowenstein (MARKET); Photo and Co (LIFE)



LIFE SKILLS TO MARKET Dreary weather doesn’t stop the Holly Springs Winter Farmers Market from meeting once a month throughout the colder months. This indoor gathering features artisanal foods and produce; plan to stock up on baked goods, locally made sauces and nut butters, foraged mushrooms, maple syrup and honey, butter, eggs, jam, and farm-raised meat. 9:30 a.m. - 12 noon; free; Holly Springs Cultural Center, 300 W. Ballentine St., Holly Springs;

Kids can learn how to ride a bike in a fun session at REI in Cary Feb. 25. Cycling teachers take small groups through step-by-step activities that will help children find their balance, navigate their bike, and start and stop effectively. If having others around is overwhelming, one-on-one instruction later that afternoon is also available – this session is good for adults, too. 10 a.m. - 12 noon group class, 1 - 3 p.m. one-on-one sessions; $50 group class, $100 private session; 1751 Walnut St., Cary;





EAT, CRAVE, GO CITY MARKET It’s been quiet for a few years, but now’s a tasty time to rediscover historic City Market downtown. French-American bistro Royale opened just before Thanksgiving; it’s open for dinner featuring classic French fare like steak frites and trout almondine, and also oysters, charcuterie, and vegetable pot pie. In late December, City Market Sushi opened nearby; go for a lunchtime bento box or a dinner menu of sushi, sashimi, nigiri, and seaweed salad.,



EXT TIME YOU WANT A RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATION, a new local app has you covered. CurEat, founded by Raleigh resident Steve Mangano (pictured above), shares dining recommendations from local chefs, tastemakers, and friends. “I have a background in hotels and restaurants, and I was frustrated by the review site options,” Mangano says. “It’s not a natural way that I think people would normally converse. If a friend is traveling to a new city, or just wants to branch out in their own, I’m going to text them three or four places I love. I’m not going to qualify the suggestions with stars and rankings.”


WINTRY WATERING HOLE Dram and Draught on Hillsborough Street recently freshened up its winter cocktail menu. Feeling adventurous? Order the “Chock Full o’ Nuts” made with bourbon, honey, cold brew coffee, Bonal (an aperitif), and a lemon twist. GREENS ON THE GO Popular fast-salad chain Chopt is open in Cameron Village. Order from the extensive menu of salad concoctions – including grain and noodle bowls and warm quinoa bowls – or choose your own combination. It’s chopped-up right in front of you, perfect for a quick bite or a healthy to-go option.

Julie Pence (STEVE MANGANO); courtesy CHOPT


FEBRUARY His notion spurred Mangano to work with Oak City Labs to create an app that prioritizes the information he believes users want – namely, who likes what. CurEat is part social media and part listing: Once you download the app, you can see lists of favorite restaurants created by local chefs including Ashley Christensen and Scott Crawford; civic leaders like N.C. Museum of Art’s Marjorie Hodges and Sarah and Victor Lytvinenko of Raleigh Denim; and also the top picks of your own friends and fellow Raleighites. You don’t have to create a profile to use the app, but a profile allows you to follow other users to stay up-to-date on their recommendations and to curate your own lists. The idea is that, by scrolling through

overlapping recommendations from everyone’s lists, “if you’re in a city and you want an independent restaurant, you can cut through the clutter to find these great places.” And while foodies are welcome, Mangano says CurEat is for appetites of every type. “We don’t always want a fine dining experience, which is why CurEaters aren’t just chefs. We have a good cross-section of the community.” CurEat launched last month and is free to download for both iPhones and Androids. Look for lists of restaurants in Asheville, Charleston, and Charlotte to debut soon, too. It’s time to get a few dinner reservations on the 2017 calendar. –Jessie Ammons



“It seems only children attract other only children.” -Sally Creech, founder of the Solo Sisters group (in the front row, second from the right)


ALLY STARTED IT,” SAYS KAY SCHOELLHORN, laughing as she welcomes a seemingly neverending stream of friends into her Hayes Barton home. Ranging in age from 21 to 90, these women are all only children, and they’re here for their monthly meeting of the Solo Sisters, a group founded by Raleighite Sally Creech, herself an only child. “I grew up with a lot of only children at the end of the war,” Creech says. Wartime meant many parents married and had children later in life; one child was a reality rather than a choice. As Creech and her fellow only children got older, Creech says, she realized they had to handle sickness, aging parents, and other challenges without immediate family support. In January 2008, Creech decided to gather the other only children she knew for a glass of wine and fellowship. They found, unsurprisingly, that they had a lot in common. They tended to be independent, unflappable, and proud. Many, like Creech, a well-known real estate broker, had been quite

successful. They’d heard all of the only-child bad press, and poo-pooed it. (One of her favorite examples – it makes Creech laugh out loud – is a quote from turn-of-the-century child psychologist Granville Stanley Hall: “Being an only child is nothing short of a disease.”) United by the conviction that their no-sibling status was a point of pride, and eager for the friendship of other only-child women, they quickly became to one another something they’d never had: sisters. “I know these ladies will be here for me,” says Leah Friedman, one of the younger members. These days, there are about 100 Solo Sisters; thier monthly meetings rotate among members’ houses. Some bring wine, some bring hors d’oeuvres. Every month, Creech reads something about only children, and every month, they check in with one another about their lives. “Over the years we have provided comfort and support to each other,” says member Debbie Robbins. “It makes me think how nice it would have been to have siblings!” –Liza Roberts photograph by CHRISTER BERG



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OUR Town


“More than anything, we’re here for the beignets.” –Arlton Cangelosi, Mr. A’s Beignets food truck owner


F YOUR FEBRUARY PLANS DON’T INCLUDE A TRIP TO NEW Orleans for Mardi Gras, you can laissez les bons temps rouler at home with a bite of one of Arlton Cangelosi’s beignets and a sip of his chicory coffee. The New Orleans native learned beignet-making at 18, when he was hired to manage a New Orleans beignet franchise, French Market Doughnuts. The pastries are a Louisiana staple, made with deep-fried choux pastry (a lighter-than-dough paste made of water, sugar, butter, and eggs), then covered in sugar and served hot for breakfast or as a treat. Cangelosi, who now lives in Apex, serves his hot from his Mr. A’s Beignets food truck, which can usually be found at 400 N. Salem St. in Apex, and at food truck rodeos, festivals, and Carolina RailHawks games. Cangelosi and his wife moved from the Big Easy to North Carolina 18 years ago. After retiring from a long postal service career, he figured it was time for another gig. “My wife told me I couldn’t sit at home,” he says with a laugh. He wanted to serve classic New Orleans cuisine in his adopted state, and beignets were the obvious choice. In December 2015, his food truck was born.

“I’m glad I went with my choice,” he says. “I get to see people smile all day when they’ve never had a beignet before and they’re trying it for the first time.” Cangelosi has plenty of regular customers who come by daily for fresh beignets and chicory coffee – he estimates he sells about 900 pastries a week. That’s a big number considering Cangelosi makes each one himself, by hand. He knows he could save time and churn out more if he did it with a machine, but he won’t sacrifice quality. To him, it’s not about the money – it’s about the people and the experience. “I wanted it to be more personal,” he says. “I don’t want it to be work – I had a job. If you don’t enjoy it, it’s not fun.” Customers are greeted by name, and Cangelosi doesn’t have employees, just family members and friends who work next to him in the truck. “We hang out,” he says happily, stirring beignets simmering in oil. “This is the one job where you get to play with food.” –Mimi Montgomery

Wednesday - Friday 7 a.m. - 12 noon, Saturday 8 a.m. - 12 noon; truck usually found at 400 N. Salem St., Apex;

photograph by RAY BLACK III



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OUR Town


“This is a great place for them to come play. We built this for all children.” –Dionne Lester, volunteer leader of the Sassafras All Children’s Playground renovation at Laurel Hills Park


t didn’t start out being a massive project,” says Dionne Lester, the driving force behind the $2.3 million Sassafras All Children’s Playground at Laurel Hills Park that includes equipment accessible to kids with disabilities. The three-and-ahalf-acre site has been in the works for eight years and garnered the support of institutions including the Frankie Lemmon School and Development Center, the City of Raleigh, and the Kiwanis Club, but Lester says it started in the pediatrician’s office waiting room. There, Lester connected with other parents of children with disabilities. Her daughter, Danielle, was born with both cerebral palsy and a strong will, and Lester remembers recounting how frustrated Danielle would get when “we’d go out to play and there were things she couldn’t do on her own without assistance from me or her dad. Other parents were sharing their frustrations, too.” Spurred by this community need, Lester discovered Laurel Hills Park, a playground built for all children. Unfortunately, its 1991 construction rendered it outdated. “We know a lot more about the benefits of play now,” Lester says, “and also how to structure it for every developmental need.” By training, Lester is an engineer, and she runs a business services management

group. “I’m a project manager,” she explains, which helped her rally the troops to renovate the playground. The renovation project was welcomed widely. “Raleigh Parks and Recreation was supportive from day one. It snowballed. One conversation led to another led to another. As we assembled the team, we decided to dream big.” They arrived at a massive overhaul with top-of-the-line play equipment and other features, such as a basketball court with height-adjustable hoops. The Frankie Lemmon School and Development Center offered to be the undertaking’s fiscal agent. “It went from, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to have this’ to jaw-dropping. People opened their hearts and put in so much time and effort.” After eight years of planning, fundraising, and building, the Sassafras playground was dedicated in November. Lester says the many years of work were worth it, as indicated by the reception from the adolescent community, including her now-teenage daughter. “My daughter is in a walker and her best friend, Deanna, is in a wheelchair. The affirmation for me was on the day of the grand opening. We’re out there, and I’m in the middle of a conversation with Deanna. She cut me off and said, ‘Yeah, well, Ms. Lester I’ve gotta run. I’ve got to go play,’ and takes off in her wheelchair. Isn’t that fabulous?” –J.A. photograph by RAY BLACK III


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OUR Town


“The people who are single (in the Triangle) are really good quality people. They are smart; they are successful, educated people; they have good jobs. I like to think I’m helping them screen through all the foolishness.” –Angela Kelley, owner, A+ Introductions


ECESSITY WAS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION WHEN Angela Kelley started her business. The Apexbased clinical researcher had become exhausted by the apps and websites that promised to help a 30-something woman like herself find a serious relationship. She’d tried the Tinders, OKCupids, and eHarmonys of the viral world and they weren’t for her. “I didn’t feel like there was really any other alternative for people who didn’t want to do online dating,” she says. “If you don’t hang out in bars and stuff like that, it’s hard … You get to a point where you’re out of resources, because all your friends are married with kids.” She decided to take matters into her own hands, and in 2014, founded A+ Introductions, a matchmaking service. The human element is the most important aspect of what she does: She calls her business “the anti-Tinder.” She meets with Trianglebased men and women one-on-one to assess their personalities and to learn what they’re looking for, and keeps her client pool (typically mid-30s and serious about finding a real relationship) at about 100 so she knows them all by name. She’s also rigid about background checks and a code of conduct.

An aligning of personalities and value systems is more important than physical attractiveness, Kelley tells her clients. To ensure this, Kelley doesn’t provide photos of potential matches prior to a first date. “We all want the Brad Pitts and the Denzel Washingtons,” she says. “I also have to help people be realistic about what they really, really want and what they really, really need.” Seriousness aside, Kelley wants customers to remember that, at the end of the day, dating is supposed to be fun. “I gauge my success as to whether people feel they’ve had a good time on their date, and whether they’re willing to go on a second date.” Of course, February is a busy time for love. Kelley calls it “cuffing season,” those cold winter months when people want to find someone special with whom they can cozy up. Her services are in higher demand around this time, but she’s quick to give a pep-talk to those looking for love. “Don’t give up. Be persistent … don’t settle. Don’t feel like you’re less-than if you’re not matched up. Eventually you will be if you want to be.” She laughs. “Optimism is my thing … It’s helpful to have somebody in your corner.” –Mimi Montgomery

photograph by CHRISTER BERG


OUR Town




Fiddle-maker Mike Anderson


WALL IN MIKE ANDERSON’S BACKYARD WOODSHOP IS MARKED WITH descending lines, each bearing a small inscription. These aren’t childhood height-markers – they’re records of the trees Anderson has cut down over the years. Red maple, spruce, willow – each has been cut into planks and placed in the eaves of his workshop to dry, a process that takes four or five years. It’s the first step in the long process of hand-making violins, violas, and cellos, something Anderson has been doing for 17 years. Anderson has long worked full-time restoring historic homes, and for many years had kept his hands busy after-hours carving bowls and making furniture. In 2000, his moonlighting changed shape when he cut down a mulberry tree in a client’s yard. He hated to see the wood go to waste, realized mulberry was perfect for making an instrument, and a hobby was born. Since then, he’s made 62 instruments. Anderson says he’s always been crafty. At 5, he carved figures in soap. “My parents actually let me have a sharp knife,” he says with a laugh. “Now that I have two grandphotographs by ANNIE COCKRILL


children, I’d be a little more cautious with something like that.” These days, his Louisburg home workshop is devoted to instrument-making. Once his wood is dry, Anderson shapes the top pieces of his instruments out of red spruce and the backs out of red maple, using a form. The sides are maple, too, and are bent on a hot iron. North Carolina willow is used for lining, and a chin rest, sound post, and bridge for the strings are all added separately. Each instrument takes about 200 hours to make. He’s usually working on two or three at once. The finished products – those not yet sold – are hung and displayed throughout his house; prices start at $1,200. At his home workshop, you can find violins (synonymous with the term “fiddle,” the only difference is in how you play it – classical or bluegrass), violas (slightly bigger than violins), cellos, and pocket fiddles (an easily portable, small fiddle used in colonial days). There are also ribbons – one blue, one red, and both awarded at the N.C. State Fair’s Village of Yesteryear for craftsmanship and presentation. Awards are great, but Anderson doesn’t claim to be an

expert. He calls his vocation a constant learning process. He apprenticed with Copperfield, Va.-based fiddle maker Arthur Connor, has attended workshops across the country, and is a member of the Violin Society of America. He’s even picked up a bit of fiddle-playing himself – “I’m not entertaining when I play, even though my wife will say it’s pretty good,” he says, laughing. “My passion is right here – it’s making. I wanted a challenge that would take me beyond my lifetime to figure out … I don’t think I’ll ever know everything about instrument making.” He likes sharing what he does know with those around him. You can find Anderson and his instruments at events like the Village of Yesteryear, the International Bluegrass Festival, the Scandinavian Christmas Festival, and MerleFest. He also visits schools and hosts students at his workshop to teach them about instrument making, and every Christmas he gives away a violin to a child between the ages of 10 and 17. “I ask young people, ‘Where would I make more money, at a McDonald’s or making a violin?’” he says. “At McDonald’s. But where would I have more fun? Making a violin.” Anderson says that the connections he makes through his instruments are unforgettable. He values “face-to-face contact with people.” He tells them “where the wood comes from, where the trees were cut down from, so they get the whole story.” He likes seeing his instruments purchased and carried out to new homes across the country. But don’t ask him to pick a favorite – he compares that to a parent picking a favorite child. “Each instrument has a little different voice, just like each of us has a different voice,” he says. His tone turns contemplative. “To delve into the secrets of a subject, you touch the divine,” he says, summarizing a quote by Beethoven. “That … really speaks to me about how there’s so much to learn.” Music, he says, “resonates eternally, far beyond what we can imagine.” He gestures at the half-constructed instruments around his shop. “Music just keeps going on.” –M.M.

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2004 YONKERS RD., RALEIGH, NC 27604 (919) 754-9754 | GREENFRONT.COM


The Times They Are a-Changin’. As Raleigh grows, its downtown cityscape changes daily. Photographer Christer Berg dusted off his 30-year-old Nikon F3 film camera and his medium-format Hasselblad camera to capture our current moment in time and the people making it happen. From office workers to street sweepers, retailers to auto mechanics, barbers to jewelers, the old and the young, Berg got them all. He photographed people putting new buildings up and tearing old buildings down. In just a few frames, he’s seized a fleeting moment in the life of our city.

Phillip Horwitz in front of his old Reliable Loan Pawn Shop. Berg says that Horwitz is pleased with his new location just a few doors down. He and his son Alan brought the neon signs and Reliable Loan clock along with all their goods to their new store to pay homage to their roots.

photographs by CHRISTER BERG 62 | WALTER

text by ILINA EWEN

FEBRUARY 2017 | 63



Clockwise from top left: When asked about her first name, Floye Dombalis of Mecca Restaurant says, “Well, I was supposed to be a boy.” She runs the restaurant together with her son Paul. Window washing at Kimbrell’s, the downtown furniture store. A construction worker at The Dillon. The interior of City Market Barber & Style Shop on South Blount Street.

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Clockwise from top left: Tim Williams, City of Raleigh street sweeper. Professionals working downtown take to the street. Soon-to-be torn down Finch’s Restaurant on Peace Street. John D. Boyette Sr. of Boyette’s Automotive Performance Machine Shop looks out his shop window on W. Martin Street. It has been a family-owned business since 1949. The demolition of Reliable Loan Company. “It feels weird, but that old building had to come down,” says owner Phillip Horwitz. A local hangs out in front of Hannah Stop ‘N’ Shop on South Wilmington Street.


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WALTER profile





photographs by CHRISTOPHER T. MARTIN


ONCE UPON A TIME, IF YOU WERE A COLLEGE STUDENT, YOU MOST LIKELY shared a cramped dorm room with a roommate or two, walked down the hall to the bathroom, drank stale coffee in the campus cafeteria, watched TV from a fifth-hand couch you chipped in to buy, and hauled your laundry down to the basement to wash, quarter by quarter. Things have changed.

If you are a college student today – thanks in no small part to Raleigh’s Donna Preiss – you just may have your own fully furnished bedroom in an off-campus student housing mecca designed to suit your fancy. Your bathroom is your own. You drink coffee in your suite’s sleek stainless-steel-appliance-appointed kitchen, and watch TV on the 50-inch flat-screen that came with the place. You don’t need to stockpile quarters, because you have your own washing machine and dryer. “We play a very important part in people’s lives,” says Preiss, founder and chief executive of Raleigh-based The Preiss Company, the nation’s third-largest privately held student housing provider and an early mover in the industry’s creation. “They’re planning their life’s work. If they enjoy where they’re living, they do a better job at that. We believe we make a difference.” More than 21,000 students in 14 states from California to North Carolina agree, paying $340-$1,185 per bed each month to live in one of Preiss’s 53 fully furnished uber-dorms with private bedrooms, private baths, utilities, and Internet. More than 7,000 North Carolina students live under a Preiss roof, making the company the largest student-housing provider in the state; in Raleigh alone, its 14 properties house more than 3,500 N.C. State students. These folks typically pay a bit more than they

would for an on-campus dorm, but depending on the property and the layout, it’s competitive: a private dorm room typically runs about $667-$752 per month. Indeed, Preiss properties are so ubiquitous and successful here that it’s hard to remember that the concept of a purposebuilt, appealing alternative to on-campus living was new as recently as the late ’90s. Preiss was one of the first in the industry to recognize that universities are not necessarily best-equipped to serve as full-service landlords – and then seize the opportunity to provide an alternative, says David J. Hartzell, director of the Leonard W. Wood Center for Real Estate Studies and a professor of real estate and professor of finance at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. She grew her vision quickly, and in the process turned student housing “from a niche industry into a respected asset class of its own,” says Doug Bibby, president of the National Multifamily Housing Council, an industry group of more than 1,000 apartment businesses across the country. “Her leadership, business acumen, passion, and energy are second to none.” If you’re surprised you haven’t heard of Preiss before, you’re not alone. Despite her success, Preiss’s profile has remained low. “She is under the radar in terms of Raleigh real estate,” Hartzell says. “I run into more people who mis-pronounce her name. And

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FAMILY, FOCUS Above: Donna Preiss, founder and chief executive of The Preiss Company, meets with her senior executives in their Hillsborough Street offices. Her son John Preiss sits to her left; her son-in-law Kyle Barger is in the foreground; her daughter Amy Preiss-Barger is out of the frame. Chief operating officer Adam Byerly and chief aquisitions and development officer Susan Folckemer sit to Donna Preiss’s right; executive vice president DeWana Falks sits across the table. Left: Kirk Preiss listens in during the meeting.


yet she is a force in the industry. She’s just a force.” Preiss herself is quick to credit her family and team, which in several cases overlap, for the company’s success. Preiss’s husband, Kirk Preiss, serves as the company’s president; her son John Preiss is chief investment officer; daughter Amy Preiss-Barger is vice president of marketing; and son-in-law Kyle Barger is vice president of construction management services. There are also half a dozen senior executives who are non-family members. She says she’s learned over the years to lean on the trusted team around her, to empower them to be leaders in their own rights. They work together, vacation together – last October, the whole team rented a villa outside Nice for a week – and celebrate together. Every Christmas, Donna and Kirk Preiss invite employees from all over the country to their annual holiday party; this year, nearly 200 of the company’s 500-strong workforce (110 based in Raleigh) gathered in the couple’s grand Hayes-Barton home. “It’s been a good year,” Donna Preiss says. “People feel a lot of pride that our brand is growing.” None more than the company’s founder, who launched The Preiss Company in 1987 with next to no capital and little more than the strength of her own convictions. A young mother at

At Preiss’s 440-resident College Inn on Western Boulevard across the street from N.C. State’s campus, Preiss greets a group of students walking out of the lobby, each well over 6 feet tall. A large percentage of residents here are athletes, she says, most on the basketball and football teams. “We had to get bigger beds,” she laughs. Adapting to the needs of students is what sets her industry apart, she says, and it’s a focus she believes particularly distinguishes her company. “You have to understand what (students) think is important, and change. We spend a lot of time observing, reading … I love that new learning.” When she realized that nobody was using the computer desks installed in the public spaces at many of the company’s properties, she removed them in favor of laptop-friendly sofas and chairs. “Now they have soft seating. You’ll see students in there at 2 to 4 a.m., they’re all in there. Kids today want privacy in public places. Like Starbucks.” At a building like the athlete-heavy College Inn, free meals are popular: “We do one or two food events a week.” Other free social events – trivia nights, movie nights, pizza parties – are in demand at every property. Among other top requests: “bedroom-bathroom parity” and swimming pools. But sometimes what students want isn’t explicitly asked for.

“The challenge … in all business, is not to get out of the rain, but to figure out how to dance in it. The things we’ve been afraid of have provided some of our best opportunities.” –Donna Preiss the time, the UNC-Chapel Hill graduate had spent several years teaching children with emotional handicaps and buying up Raleigh rental properties on the side. Her husband Kirk was working at IBM and investing alongside her. More and more, the real estate investments fired Donna’s engines. “I realized this was what I was meant to do.” Growing up in Gibsonville, N.C., she’d helped her father, a post office employee who owned a few rental homes, to help keep them up, painting and cleaning. As her own portfolio of single family homes, duplexes, and apartments grew, the work soon “consumed” her. Today more than 100 of these “legacy investments” remain in the Preiss portfolio. “By doing these things early, I built a business.” One that’s made a mark. Her success has earned the Preiss Company more than a dozen top industry awards including Business Leader magazine’s Impact Award, the Commercial Real Estate Women Network’s Impact Award, and Student Housing Business magazine’s Innovator and Best Creative Financing awards. Donna herself has also been recognized with Business Leader magazine’s Top Entrepreneur Award, Women in Business Award, and several others. “In a male-dominated business,” NMHC’s Bibby says, “Donna has succeeded where very few females have.”

College town

When property managers reported in some locations that international students (a growing percentage of Preiss’s student population) were retrofitting bidets onto their toilets, Preiss installed permanent bidets, then advertised them as “global friendly bathrooms.” They leased out immediately. “The exciting thing is that it’s always changing,” she says. “You have to re-create it every year. You collect data, and you act on it. What drives people to lease? What drives people to stay? You can’t be complacent. You have to up your game.” As she talks to staffers in the College Inn property manager’s office, Preiss has her antennae up. Mid-sentence, she leans over to pick a stray candy wrapper up from the floor with redlacquered nails, tucking it in her purse as she walks past the lobby’s Ping-Pong and pool tables, past the kitchen and gigantic TVs, the sliding glass doors that lead to the swimming pool, the workout room, the tanning bed. She asks Mariana Luciani, who helps manage the building, to show a model apartment. “She knows the players,” Preiss says of Luciani, who is all smiles. “She watches all their games.” Luciani is a former N.C. State student; her fandom is genuine. “It means a lot to say, ‘hey, I saw you play.’ A lot of players’ families can’t come to many games.” At University Village at 2505, a few miles from Centennial Campus, Preiss again greets a fleet of buoyant, toothsome staffers. “It’s all about the people,” Preiss says. “They’re my favorite people FEBRUARY 2017 | 71

HOME AWAY FROM HOME Above: At the College Inn, a central gathering area is adjacent to a hotel-style pool. Left: In a typical student apartment, Preiss talks to staffer Mariana Luciani, who works in the building’s management office.


to hang around with.” She picks them carefully. “A lot of people will interview well,” she says, but don’t have the authentic enthusiasm needed to do the job. “It’s kind of like being a camp counselor. If you don’t want to do that, you probably don’t want the job.” She focuses on finding good managers, and allowing them to grow their own teams: “People come to work for people.” She also invests in training and travel, opportunities for teams to bond. The 288-bed University Village looks like a good place for a bit of bonding. It could be mistaken for the set of a TV show about millennials at play. The gym, the pool, the main living room, the TV area – they’re all huge, stylish, and sparkling. Every resident has a separate lease for his or her own room, and a key to his or her own bedroom door. A shuttle leaves every 15 minutes for campus. “It’s the magic number,” Preiss says. “If it’s over 19 minutes, they won’t use it.” Every night, Preiss tracks how each property is doing monthto-date and year-to-date, and tweaks things when numbers begin to fall. This particular building is already 34 percent leased for the fall semester; ideally it will be full by spring. “If you can measure it,” she says, “you can manage it.”

Making a difference Donna Preiss will be the first person to tell you that her success hasn’t come easily. An ability to find deal partners in an in-

she’s really ridden the tide with the growth of the industry.” Being a woman in a man’s world, he says, doesn’t seem to have affected her at all: “People see her as they should – as a confident dealmaker. They know what they’re going to get.” Preiss says if anything, being a woman has galvanized her: “We had to work harder and as a result grew stronger, and probably grew better. I have oftentimes been in situations with people I felt were smarter, or more articulate. But I knew they wouldn’t outwork me.” Staking her own claim is something Preiss has done from an early age. “I didn’t want to have a safe life,” she says. “I wanted to have a life where I challenged myself.” Going to Chapel Hill for college was a first step: “Nobody I’d ever known had gone there.” It was where she met Kirk, who won her over with his sense of adventure and kindness. “He always acted like everything I said and thought was so special. He always believed in me.” Nothing else, she says, has been as important: “The single most important thing is finding a life partner who believes in you,” she says. Preiss’s friends say they’re big believers as well. “She’s not afraid of anything, and she loves challenges,” says Lekita Essa, founder and owner of Raleigh health care provider Lekitacare and a friend of Preiss’s since the late ’90s. When Essa suggested the two get some early-morning, pre-work exercise together by swimming in the Pullen Park pool, Preiss didn’t let a long-

“Purpose-built student housing – it was revolutionary back then.” –Donna Preiss dustry where she remains an outsider has been a key hurdle to overcome. “It’s a capital-intensive business, and very affinity-driven. People want to invest with people who look like them.” That means male, usually, and when she first began to venture out of her home market, she found that description expanded: “A man who was educated in the Northeast. All of the things I was not.” Preiss found entree to that broader industry and its capital sources in part through an unexpected route: public speaking. In 2003, an invitation came to speak at a conference on “the new concept of student housing.” Though public speaking was not her forte, she agreed. A man in the audience became one of her first institutional investors. “I think that’s the key for women, is raising your hand, saying yes. I was asked to speak again and again. The public speaking gave me credibility, and gave us the appearance of being bigger than we were.” In addition to opening doors, she found public speaking also crystallized her thinking. “It has helped me so much, to synthesize things.” Stretching beyond her natural inclinations has grown her skills in all sorts of ways, she says, from leading her workforce to striking a deal. UNC’s Hartzell says her reputation precedes her: “She walks in a room, and you immediately know she knows her stuff,” he says. “She gets it. She’s everything you’d want a real estate partner to be. She’s honest, she’s forthright, she’s smart, she truly understands how that asset class works, and as an early mover,

standing dislike of being submerged in water get in the way, Essa says. Instead she bought “huge face goggles like she was going deep-sea diving” and flippers so big Essa had to put down the top of her convertible to fit them in. And every morning for many months, they set out for a swim. “She was so determined to overcome that fear,” Essa says. Preiss is also determined, Essa says, to give back to her community. When the two served on the SPCA board together, “she was very instrumental, but she did it quietly. She’s not one that needs a lot of fanfare.” Caryn McNeill, chair of the board at Ravenscroft school, on which Preiss currently serves, agrees. “Donna brings a singular perspective,” she says, citing Preiss’s “business acumen” and experience with student housing as particular assets. And she’s a champion for women and minorities in her role on the executive committee of the National Multifamily Housing Council, says Bibby. Meanwhile, at work, Preiss is looking ahead. She’s got new student housing projects in the works, new markets to consider, and possibly, new businesses to enter. Transitional housing for young professionals, for instance, might be interesting. But she won’t decide alone. “When I’m at my strongest is when I am surrounded by people I trust, and I allow them to make a difference,” she says. “I don’t think I’m necessarily a great leader, but I think I’ve been a great entrepreneur. I’m a passionate person. I care a lot.”

FEBRUARY 2017 | 73




Staying the course at 150



photographs by CHRISTOPHER T. MARTIN


AT SAINT AGNES HOSPITAL ON OAKWOOD AVENUE IN Raleigh on Nov. 6, 1958, a boy named Everett Ward was born. Nearly 60 years later, he has a rare opportunity: to keep the very place that brought him into the world from leaving it for good, and to breathe new life into the university that surrounds it. Saint Augustine’s University, where Ward was educated and where he now serves as president, has weathered the intervening years better than the hospital, which has been closed for more than half a century. But the school has suffered. Never particularly wealthy to begin with, the university’s fortunes began to wane in the new millennium as enrollment dipped and tuition dollars dwindled. Led by Ward, the University has cut costs and made a recent, enthusiastic push toward solvency, but in December of last year, the school was put on probation by its accrediting body for financial reasons. Still, Ward and the school he loves remain steadfast in their fervent belief: Saint Augustine’s will survive. FEBRUARY 2017 | 75

“I see a great university that is on the cutting edge, or just on the edge of realizing its potential,” Ward says. “I believe, without a doubt, that Saint Augustine’s’ greatest years are ahead of it.” That tenacious spirit is shared by other Saint Augustine’s leaders. “We’re a school that, like most small colleges, we’ve had financial troubles,” says Hilton Smith, a 1968 alumnus, member of the school’s board of trustees, and retired vice president of Turner Construction Company. “But we remain in good standing with each other. We are determined to live through this and bring Saint Augustine’s into financial stability.” As the university begins its 150th year and continues its climb away from near-insolvency, Ward’s leadership serves as a symbol that its mission and history are of more than academic value. They may prove to be the school’s saving grace.

Legacy, history Ward has never strayed far. His parents raised him around the corner in a house built by his great-aunt and great-uncle. His daycare was a block from campus; his elementary school, two blocks. The summer after he graduated from Broughton in 1977, Ward and his mother packed up a trunk just as if he were going far away for college. Then they picked up the trunk and took it down the street, where they emptied it into his freshman dormitory. Three years earlier, his mother had performed the same ritual with his older sister. When Ward was first offered the presidency on an interim basis, in 2014, he saw an opportunity to honor the memories of his wife, father, and mother – all but his mother Saint Augustine’s graduates, and all recently passed – and to find comfort in the Saint Augustine’s family that all of them had helped create. “I’m here because I was reared in a home where my parents instilled in my sister and I … that to whom much is given, much is required.” Indeed, it’s a place Ward seems to be born to lead. When he looks at Saint Augustine’s future, he sees rebirth. When he looks upon the shell of the building where he was born, he sees it rising again, coming back to life as a public health center – a place where students will be educated in the medical professions, and where residents of Southeast Raleigh will be cared for. His vision is bold. It is hard for a layperson to look at Saint Agnes as it stands today and imagine it free of climbing vegetation, let alone transforming into a stateof-the-art medical center. But Ward is a man of faith, and those who have watched him at work trust his roots, his optimism, and his vision.

From a rock quarry, a university Ward likes few things about his job CLOSE COMMUNITY Right: Student trustee Kendrick Cunningham, a junior, shares a laugh with President Ward. “When I first got here I didn’t really understand why I chose an HBCU, but as I’ve matured here, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I’ve gained a better understanding of my culture and been able to understand who I am as a person.”


better than walking around campus. “When I get tired of the administrative reports, I just get up and walk,” he says. “It reminds me of when I was a student here.” He starts his constitutional on a recent morning with a stop at the most striking building on campus – one that also demonstrates how far the school has always been from the proverbial ivory tower: the chapel. As Ward proudly notes, this chapel was built in 1895 by Saint Augustine’s students with stone they quarried themselves. Three decades earlier, the university was founded by a group of 11 Episcopal clergymen who, after the Civil War, saw the need to provide education and infrastructure to the approximately 4 million recently freed slaves who had never had the benefit of formal schooling. They incorporated Saint Augustine’s Normal School in 1867 with the mission of training black teachers. Saint Agnes Hospital opened on the school’s grounds in 1896, and served as the only black teaching hospital between Washington D.C. and Atlanta. In 1919, the school was reinvented as a junior college, and in 1927, it again expanded its offerings, becoming a four-year institution known simply as Saint Augustine’s College. Since 2012, Saint Augustine’s has been accredited as a full-fledged university. It remains one of only two historically black schools still affiliated with the Episcopal Church. The other is Vorhees College in South Carolina. Saint Augustine’s has always been small – never larger than 2,000 students. In recent years, that number has dipped perilously low. The school relies primarily on tuition dollars to keep the lights on, and like many small, historically black schools, it doesn’t have the luxury of a large endowment to cushion dips in annual revenue. A couple of years ago, those problems were accompanied – and temporarily worsened – by investigations from both accreditors and the federal government, the latter of which dealt with allegations that the school had mishandled federal grants. Between

the fall of 2013 and the spring of 2014, about 200 students left campus and did not return, according to The News and Observer. In April 2014, the board of trustees removed Ward’s predecessor, Dianne Boardley Suber, after 14 years at the university’s helm. Suber’s ouster followed the firing of Angela Haynes, the school’s vice president for business and finance. At the time, Ward was working for the North Carolina Department of Transportation as its head of intergovernmental affairs. His time away from Saint Augustine’s had also involved various appointments in Democratic Party leadership, including serving in 1989 as the North Carolina party’s first AfricanAmerican executive director, and as chairman of two of the Democratic National Committee’s permanent committees. “I received a call from the chairman of the board of trustees, and he was very open about where the institution was,” Ward says. “He told me there would be a change in leadership, and the question was asked: If given the opportunity, would you come back and help?” Ward wasn’t sure. He talked the offer over with Dr. Prezell Robinson, who led Saint Augustine’s during the final quarter of the 20th century. Robinson told Ward that Saint Augustine’s needed him. With that push from the past – and a pull from the future – Ward took the job. Today, there are 950 students, and Ward says he’d like to see

that number nearly double to about 1,800. That’s a sweet spot, he says, where the goals of financial stability and campus intimacy can both be met.

Working with less Ward continues his walk, arriving at the school’s main athletic complex, where members of the baseball team are warming up on the football field. The recent difficulty of simply keeping the lights on has meant the school hasn’t been able to pay for any major improvements. That’s not unique to Saint Augustine’s. Historically black institutions around the country have typically lacked access to the kind of wealthy donors, endowments, or other inherited assets that some predominantly white institutions enjoy. “When you talk to someone like Coach (George) Williams who has built an Olympic reputation internationally around the track program – look what he’s working with!” Ward says, gesturing toward a meager grandstand on the west side of the field. “You see what I’m saying?” Folks with no other reason to know about Saint Augustine’s know of George Williams and his success. He has been the university’s track coach for the past 40 years. His specialty has been producing world-class sprinters, particularly in the 400meter dash. He’s coached Olympians, including many from Saint Augustine’s, at the Olympics every four years since 1996, includFEBRUARY 2017 | 77

“THIS PLACE IS SACRED” Clockwise from top left: The track at Saint Augustine’s lacks facilities common to most high schools but the indoor and outdoor teams have still managed to win 38 Divsion II national championships under the direction of head coach George Williams; The chapel was built in 1895 by Saint Augustine’s students with stone they quarried themselves; Smedes York, mayor of Raleigh from 1979 to 1983 and chairman of York Properties, has long family ties to the school. His great, great grandfather, the Rev. Aldert Smedes, was among the 11 Episcopal clergymen credited with its founding; Ward likes to get out and walk around the campus. “It reminds me of when I was a student here,” he says. Here, he shares a laugh with students.

ing in 2004, when he served as head coach of the United States Men’s Olympic track and field team. But Williams’ home track, which rings the SAU football field, doesn’t have a press box – a staple of most high school athletic complexes, many of which also feature larger grandstands than Saint Augustine’s’. “I’ve coached two, three Olympic teams, and I can’t even get a press box,” Williams says. “I need $1.5 million to build a press box and bathrooms at the stadium. But no company, nobody would offer me any help. “But I’m never an underdog,” he adds. “I’m underpaid, underfunded, underappreciated, you might say, but not an underdog. We don’t have the weight room, the infrastructure, the nutrition that everybody gets, all that stuff – we don’t have that. But we do have love for each other and a coach that understands the sport.” As he’s talking, his phone rings. Williams digs the phone out of his right hip pocket and stares at the screen for a moment. He picks it up and puts the call on speaker. It’s the son of a major would-be donor who years ago, Williams says, had personally agreed to help pay for the press 78 | WALTER

box at Saint Augustine’s. “Things have changed, George,” the man’s son says. “That was a long time ago. I’m sorry, but we won’t be able to make that contribution.” Williams keeps his tone light. “You can look me up,” he replies. “You can Google George Williams up and understand that I’m telling the truth – I’ve done a lot for the country.” The man’s response is polite but firm. It is clear that at least for now, and at least from this source, there will be no press box for the former U.S. Olympic coach, the man who has won 38 Division II national championships for Saint Augustine’s between his indoor and outdoor track and field teams. Williams cordially thanks the caller for considering the matter, puts down the phone, and shakes his head. “Now, that’s what I’m talking about,” he says. “See, (the would-be donor) promised me that he would give me $800,000 to build a press box in his name. He wrote it down and everything. But his son is saying he’s (too old) now, and he doesn’t understand. He’s got all the money in the world, but he’s not going

to give me a penny.” Williams retreats from the boardroom where he’s being interviewed to a small kitchen alcove to compose himself for a moment. When he emerges, his eyes are bloodshot. “I mean, that’s a billionaire,” Williams whispers, still shaking his head. “Gosh.” But halfway out the door, he turns and delivers one more dose of the faithful optimism that has carried his student-athletes so far with so little. “This place is sacred,” he says. “It’ll be all right, man, OK?”

A sacred place The university’s 105 acres are tucked away on the north side of Oakwood Avenue in Southeast Raleigh, one of the city’s historically black neighborhoods. Saint Augustine’s is one of two Raleigh HBCUs, as historically black colleges and universities are collectively called – Shaw University, a Baptist institution, is the other. Saint Augustine’s began as a place of opportunity for those denied it elsewhere, says J. Peder Zane, a longtime The News and Observer columnist who taught at Saint Augustine’s between 2011 and 2016. He said the school’s role has since changed in form,

though not in spirit. Saint Augustine’s “has always given a chance to marginalized groups,” Zane says. “There is a proud history of serving the best and the brightest in the African-American community. The school has evolved so it’s still serving a marginalized population, but it’s a subset of students who need the structural and cultural opportunities Saint Augustine’s can provide.” The obstacles that persist for black students seeking a college degree – and there are many – no longer include exclusion from top institutions like Duke or UNC-Chapel Hill. Black college students have choices now, and it’s up to places like Saint Augustine’s to convince them that historically black spaces still hold value. Hope for a color-blind society, among other things, has led some to view historically black institutions as anachronisms – costly reminders of institutional segregation that no longer exists. In North Carolina, state-funded HBCUs that also face declining enrollment have been threatened with budget cuts by the state legislature. HBCUs’ defenders argue the schools remain vital: “Historically black colleges continue to be extremely relevant, especially FEBRUARY 2017 | 79

because we’re still in a nation where we have roughly 10 percent or less of our population that’s college-educated,” Ward says. “If we are indeed going to be a competitor globally in the intellectual community, we can’t afford to close not one institution.” He also points to Saint Augustine’s’ high percentage of first-generation students – the first members of their family to pursue a four-year degree – as evidence of a continuing need to provide opportunity to those for whom the inertial hold of poverty and structural racism remains strongest. Zane says HBCUs also give black students an opportunity to learn in a setting where their race isn’t the first thing people notice about them. Plenty of black, first-generation students attend predominantly white colleges, too, but they often struggle with racial and economic isolation in addition to the learning curve any first-year college student faces. Being black and bearing the weight of a family’s expectations are not foreign or unusual experiences at Saint Augustine’s. The school’s faculty, staff, and student body share an understanding of the problems that often prevent black, first-generation students from completing a degree. “There have been times where me, and I know some of my friends, have thought, ‘It’s over,’” junior and Charlotte native Kendrick Cunningham says of his time at Saint Augustine’s. “There’s pressure from family, problems back at home, social problems on campus, and overcoming self-doubt. It’s the close relationships with peers, administrators, staff members, that keep you pushing forward. Once you graduate from here, you feel like you can conquer anything you put your mind to.” 80 | WALTER

As president, Ward says he feels a heavy sense of obligation not only to his students, but also to their families, and to the generations to come whose futures will be shaped by the opportunities their parents find here. “I was a direct recipient of that same kind of benefit, and that’s what makes me want to give it back to them,” Ward says. “When the president of the university writes a letter of recommendation to the governor, and you get a job with the Democratic Party – I know what that meant.”

‘You have to give back’ Ward is ambitious: In addition to expanding the school’s public health program and eventually restoring the site of Saint Agnes Hospital, he wants to grow the school’s business and communications programs. But Ward’s ambitions have to contend with financial reality. To remain within its budget, the school has postponed capital improvements, instituted pay cuts, and sold Meadowbrook Country Club, a university-owned golf course in Garner that opened in 1958 as Raleigh’s first private country club for AfricanAmericans. “Sometimes you have to make tough decisions,” says Hilton Smith, trustee and alumnus. “And with the golf course, that was a decision that we pretty much had to make. We’re living with that.” To get beyond such financial insecurity, Ward’s goal is plain: “I’d say raising dollars outside of tuition is the biggest challenge for us now.” He needs more alumni to follow Smith’s example: “I pay to Saint Augustine’s just as I pay my bills,” Smith says, > continued on p. 126

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ROADSIDE John T. Jones

EATS An excerpt...



JUST WHERE DID I LEARN THAT LOCAL RESTAURANTS are where you find real friends and lifelong memories? Maybe it was my North Mecklenburg High School football teammate Tommy Oehler who got me started when he introduced me to his dad, J. W., and the wonders of the annual Mallard Creek Church barbecue, which the Oehler family still manages every October north of Charlotte. There is no better example of how good barbecue and a host of friendly people make a meal into something memorable. My whole life, to this day, I’m still on the lookout for places where I can find the Mallard Creek feeling. The places I’ve found that live up to Mallard Creek, at least in my mind — the restaurants that are about food, friends, and more — are the places you’ll find in this book. So when I ask just where did I learn that local restaurants are where you find real friends and lifelong memories, I suppose my answer would be North Carolina is where. I have a lifetime’s worth of memories about the food and friendship in this state, and they led me to write this book. I’ll tell you how Charlotte’s Open Kitchen gave my Davidson College basketball teammates refuge and fellowship after a disappointing loss on New Year’s Eve. Those memories of their robust red sauce and pasta, classic pizzas, and that open door-


way to the bustling kitchen have always make me want to find similar eateries in other parts of our state. When Lefty Driesell became our coach, he usually took the team out for supper after the games. We had simple meals at the kinds of local eateries I came to love, like the ones in this book. But after we began my senior season with six straight losses, out of desperation he promised to give us a steak dinner after every game we won. Right then, we started winning and, more importantly, enjoying the steaks. But after our twelfth straight win, Lefty confessed that he had spent the whole of his travel budget on our steak dinners. The steaks would have to stop. Immediately, we lost our next game to underdog VMI, with me taking and missing a last shot that would have tied the game. No steak, no streak. When I was in the army, stationed at Fort Bragg, the Haymont Grill in Fayetteville became a second home. Great juicy fried chicken, meat loaf with two vegetables, rolls, and tea filled me up for under a dollar. Owner Pete Skenteris befriended me and helped me fit in with the locals. He still does, but he now charges more than a dollar for the meat-and-two-vegetables plate. It’s still delicious and always fresh. In Charlotte practicing law, my friends and I shunned the fancy places. We favored a modest diner on South Tryon called Jake’s.

PAM’S FARMHOUSE RESTAURANT Jake’s is long gone, but my former law partners still remember the “Number 5 hamburger plate” and the over-the-top “One on a Plate,” which was a slice of just-made apple pie and a scoop of ice cream. The owner took care of us like important people even though we were not. But when I ran for Congress in 1984 and he saw one of our TV ads, he stopped me on the street to say, “Great ad, D. G. You look a lot better on TV than you do in person.” Law practice put me on the road regularly, and I found restaurant after restaurant that served homey, delicious food. Once, on the way from Charlotte to Greensboro, a client made me stop at his favorite barbecue place, Lexington #1. Wayne Monk and his friendly crew instantly made me feel at home. And the chopped plate with slaw and baked beans, plus the hot, crisp hushpuppies, suited me better than anything I had ever eaten. Thank goodness it is still there. That same client told me about the delicious slaw at R. O.’s Bar-B-Cue in Gastonia. So good, he said, that he was going to open a restaurant that sold slaw burgers made with R. O.’s slaw and a simple bun. Later, I found that R. O.’s was already selling a slaw burger. It is very good, I found, but the slaw is even better with barbecue! In those days, before interstates connected Charlotte and Raleigh, Highway 64 was the usual route between the two cities. There you would find the Blue Mist, the must-stop barbecue restaurant outside Asheboro. The barbecue sandwiches were always good, and I always ran into friends traveling the same roads. With its closure a few years ago, travelers lost an icon. In my three political campaigns, I was more successful at finding great gathering places for breakfast and lunch with supporters than I was at winning elections. At eateries such as Troutman’s in Concord and Hursey’s in Burlington,

the reminders of visits by famous politicians make them mini-museums as well as good places to eat with the locals. When I moved to Chapel Hill to work for University of North Carolina system president Dick Spangler, he introduced me to Breadmen’s, where the great and bountiful servings of solid food and the ever-presence of policemen and community leaders made it my second home until my wife joined me in Chapel Hill. Now, she and I take our grandchildren there and spoil them with pancakes and French fries while we still split the giant vegetable plate, almost always choosing their tasty banana pudding, which Breadmen’s includes as one of the veggie options, even though everybody knows it’s not a vegetable. But I wanted to know about other country cooking places. Jack Hunt, a powerful legislator from Cleveland County, was married to a cousin of President Spangler, who told me I could go to Jack if I ever needed help in my work with the legislature. So one day I did ask him for help: “Where is the best place to get country cooking around here?” He paused, squinted, smiled a little bit, and finally said, “Well, the truth is there is nothing better, I think, than Ruby’s cooking.” His wife, Spangler’s cousin, is the Ruby in question. Jack and Ruby regularly invited their government friends for informal suppers of country ham, baked chicken, cornbread, biscuits with sourwood honey and molasses, and vegetables from her garden, including corn frozen minutes after it was picked the previous summer. There were always desserts of homemade cakes and pies. Of course, there was also the opportunity to make friends with governors, Supreme Court justices, and legislative leaders. Once, when President Spangler and Governor Jim Hunt were at loggerheads about the governor’s budget proposals for the university, they could hardly speak to each other until Jack invited them to breakfast with Ruby. Neither

5111 Western Boulevard, Raleigh, NC 27606 (919) 859-9990 Monday–Friday 6:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.; Saturday 6:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. MAY NOT ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS


ancy Olson, the world-famous former owner and bookseller at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, told me about Pam’s. “It’s one of the best country cooking places, ever,” she said. “It’s got the best red-eye gravy, and there are always interesting people there.” When we finally met there for lunch one day, I found out what she was talking about. The southernstyle vegetables (collards, okra, and corn) that were offered with my fried chicken were perfectly cooked. I loved the banana pudding and wished that I had had a little more room. “Pam Medlin has been in the business since she started busing tables at a restaurant that our family owned in Henderson,” says Pam’s mother, Peggy Robinson. That family tradition continues at Pam’s. Her brother, Clay Wade, is a cook and her sister, Tammy Edgerton, is a waitress. Some of the regular customers, who eat breakfast and lunch there every day, are like family, too. FROM I-40 If headed East: Take Exit 289 (Wade Ave.). Follow Wade Ave. for 3 miles. Turn right onto I-440/US 1 South. Go 3 miles and take Exit 2B. See below for directions from Exit 2B. If headed West: Take Exit 293 onto I-440/US 1 North. Go 2 miles and take Exit 2B. See below for directions from Exit 2B. From Exit 2B of I-440: At the end of the ramp, turn left on Western Blvd. Go 0.5 mile. Pam’s will be on the left, but the divide prevents a left turn. Go 0.2 mile farther, make a U-turn at the traffic light at Heather Dr. to reverse course, and come back to Pam’s. After Eating Have you ever wanted a sari or wanted to get one for a favorite person? A few doors down at 5107 Western Blvd. is Roopkala Sari Palace, which sells and displays this beautiful clothing.

From NORTH CAROLINA’S ROADSIDE EATERIES: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints. Copyright © 2016 by D. G. Martin. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.

FEBRUARY 2017 | 83


map and Toot ‘n Tell photo courtesy DG Martin

1240 Farmers Market Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603 (919) 755-1550 Monday–Saturday 6:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.; Sunday 8:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.


lthough Gypsy Gilliam and her son, Tony, have added some modern dishes to the menu, the State Farmers Market Restaurant is still known for the incredible fresh vegetables, courtesy the state Farmers Market, the go-to spot for the region’s best produce. But there’s more to it. These folks also know how to cook it right: squash, greens, collards, beans, corn. And don’t forget the biscuits or cornbread, iced tea, and friendly service. The restaurant also has a museum-quality collection of old-time farm equipment. Civil War memorabilia and North Carolina historical objects line its walls. So even if the food were not so good, this place would be worth a stop. Everybody comes here to eat and meet—businesspeople doing deals, farmers taking a break from selling their crops at the market, working people, and lots of family groups having mini-reunion meals. If I had one place in the state to take visitors from another country, just to show them what North Carolina was all about, I would bring them right here for the food, of course, but more than that, for the rich diversity and goodness of the North Carolina people who show up to eat here. FROM I-40 Take Exit 297 (Lake Wheeler Rd./Dorothea Dix/Farmers Market exit). Head north for 0.25 mile, following the signs to the Farmers Market. The restaurant is the building with the big dome. After Eating Take a few minutes to walk around the market area. Even if you can resist the extra-fresh vegetables and other crops, you will enjoy the displays and shops. It is a mini–state fair. And if you miss the 3:00 p.m. closing time for the State Farmers Market Restaurant, try the Market Grill or the North Carolina Seafood Restaurant and Market just a few steps away for a late lunch or supper.

From NORTH CAROLINA’S ROADSIDE EATERIES: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints. Copyright © 2016 by D. G. Martin. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.


the governor nor the university president could say no to Ruby. It only was after they sat down to Ruby’s cooking and warm spirit that they worked out a compromise. Some of the other lobbyists had resources to entertain legislators at fancy and expensive restaurants. I had no expense account. But I found that I could always get wonderful and inexpensive country cooking and run into important legislators at places such as Big Ed’s and Finch’s, where the food was great, the servers were friendly, and the atmosphere was warm and inclusive enough to be conducive to building trust. On one occasion, university vice president Bill McCoy and I left from Chapel Hill about noon driving to Cullowhee for a meeting at Western Carolina University. By the time we were approaching Winston-Salem on I-40, McCoy said he was getting hungry for a barbecue sandwich. I quickly agreed but admitted that I did not know where there was a good place to stop. We called the law offices of the late Ham Horton, then serving in the legislature and a wellknown food fan. Horton was unavailable, his receptionist told us, because he was in an important real estate closing. “Tell him we only need him for a minute because we need a place to eat,”

we pled. Thankfully, Horton came to the phone and quickly gave us a recommendation and directions. At that moment I knew that interstate travelers needed some sort of guidebook to the barbecue joints and country cooking places where the locals eat. I began to write about my favorite country cooking places in my weekly newspaper column. My readers like those columns better than my usual ones about politics and books. When I invited them to write about their favorite places, I got enough material for more columns and for a series of magazine articles that featured some of my favorites. I left the university in the fall of 1997 to run for the U.S. Senate. After I was soundly defeated in the primary by John Edwards, Chancellor Joseph Oxendine at UNC-Pembroke asked me to work for him for six months. While I was there, he introduced me to Lumbee Indian culture and two of his favorite restaurants: Linda’s, where the lunchtime crowd of locals politely welcomed the “university crowd” to join them for lunch, and Shef’s, where the seafood suppers drew people from all over Lumbee Land. A few months after that assignment ended, North Carolina Central University chancellor Julius Chambers asked me to work for him for a few months.

TOOT-N-TELL RESTAURANT I enjoyed eating with my staff at the faculty cafeteria; it was not a regular restaurant, of course, but the country food was delicious. One day the special plate was pigs’ feet. I remember how everybody looked over to see how I was going to deal with that dish. I pretended that I did not notice their looks and cleaned my plate and ate all the meat and tasty fat from every toe. Folks at Central introduced me to Dillard’s, where people from all over Durham gathered to enjoy barbecue with a mustard-based sauce more like they serve in South Carolina. Sadly, Dillard’s closed a few years ago. While in Durham, I met some of my Central staff at Bullock’s in Durham as described later in this book. Meanwhile, another interim job with the Trust for Public Land took me back to Charlotte for more than a year. I introduced my staff to Open Kitchen, which was the same as it was so many years earlier. They introduced me to Lupe’s, where we gathered for simple but tasty fare and the chance to meet people from all over town. Both these great places are described in this book. But, unfortunately, another of my Charlotte favorites, Anderson’s, home of The World’s Best Pecan Pie and where I spent many happy mornings at business, political, church, and social gatherings,

closed a few years ago. But that is the challenge of writing about restaurants: even if we wish they would, they don’t last forever. They go out of business, trade hands and change, or keep chugging until they run their natural course. But part of the joy in all these jobs I’ve had over the years and all the traveling I’ve done is finding new and welcoming places to pull up, get a sweet tea, and meet good folks while eating wonderful North Carolina home cooking. I’ve written for years about these places, published books and countless columns about them and the people in them: from little

diners with hushpuppies you never forget to watching people settle political differences over a slice of lemon pie, I’ve seen and tasted nearly everything. I love this state and love traveling its roads, finding what I find, and reporting back to you. I hope you enjoy what’s ahead in this book and that it inspires you to go a little out of your way to find something special, where the folks will likely greet you like an old friend, even if it’s your first visit.

903 W. Garner Road, Garner, NC 27529 (919) 772-2616 Monday–Saturday 5:30 a.m.–8:00 p.m.; Sunday 7:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m. (note “.co” rather than “.com”)


f you’re anything like me, your first question when you hear the Toot-n-Tell’s name is “Where did that crazy name come from?” That question opens the door to more than 60 years of the restaurant’s history. Started as a drive-in by Brookie Pool in 1946, Toot-n-Tell served hot dogs, hamburgers, and milkshakes. Customers would toot their horns and tell the carhop what they wanted. After Pool’s death, his stepson, Bill Sparkman, and Bill’s wife, Maryann, bought the restaurant in 1968. Their daughter, Donna Sparkman Wooten, and Maryann operate the Toot-n-Tell today. Donna has worked at the restaurant for more than 40 years, since she was 13. Donna, who does not have children, says that she goes to her house to sleep but the restaurant is her home, and the customers and employees are her family. That home is a gift to her visitors, who can find a solid and reasonably priced meal and companionship at any time of the day. Regular customer Dot DuPree has been eating at Toot-n-Tell “all my life.” Her favorite waitress is Lib Mojeske, who is “friendly and smart” and also serves as cashier. Chad Richardson, who works in the area, says the food is like “grandma’s cooking, in the day, like the country-style steak and cabbage.” He added, “This is the only place I’ve found that knows how to cook cabbage right.” My wife, Harriet, enjoyed the cabbage and turnip greens to go with a fish special. Each weekday has a different special with a meat entrée and two vegetables from a long list. Think baked chicken, country-style steak, pork chops, calves liver, and so on. Those who are hungrier or just in a hurry can get a salad bar and a full buffet for less than $8. Too good to be true. Well, it is not forever. Donna is the end of the family line. But she promises us that she will be there for a long time to come.

FROM I-40 Take Exit 299 for Hammond Rd. and go south on Hammond Rd. for 1 mile to East Tryon Rd. Turn left. Go 0.7 mile and turn right onto Garner Rd. Go 1.7 miles. Toot-nTell will be on the right. After Eating Take a walk in the abandoned graveyard next to the restaurant. The broken gravestones surrounded by weeds and wildflowers can be a reminder of how fragile our monuments can be. Then take a look at the railroad at the top of an embankment right behind the restaurant. The town of Garner grew up around a station of the North Carolina Railroad built in the 1850s between Goldsboro and Charlotte. Garner is said to have experienced actual combat in the closing days of the Civil War when Sherman’s troops were moving along this railroad line toward Raleigh after the Battle of Bentonville. From NORTH CAROLINA’S ROADSIDE EATERIES: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints. Copyright © 2016 by D. G. Martin. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.

FEBRUARY 2017 | 85

at the






photographs by JILLIAN CLARK

OSTREOPHILES MIGHT SAY OUR PRIMORDIAL BEGINNINGS EXPLAIN THE bond between man and mollusk. Somehow, we made it out of the mud. After more than 500 million years, they’re still in it, anchored one to the other, fed by Mother Ocean. The oyster – Crassostrea virginica in our native waters – has delighted epicureans for centuries. Shakespeare wrote, “the world is my oyster.” I might put it slightly differently: When roasting them in my own backyard, the oyster is my world.

FEBRUARY 2017 | 87

The Carolina oyster roast is a ritual that feeds my soul, stirring nostalgia of the season and prompting memories: my dad pairing a briny peck with cold Blue Ribbon; old stories of Uncle Jim’s house on the Pamlico; dozens broiled on the half shell at Christmas; late November parties in Chapel Hill after playing Duke, backyard fires cutting the chill, autumn leaves underfoot, the encroaching dusk a fragrant rapture of oyster char, woodsmoke, and bourbon. Ten years ago, for my parents’ 50th anniversary, my wife Kristin and I threw an oyster roast. Then we threw a few more – some intimate and others a little more, well, festive. Like when Patrik and Krystie Nystedt, owners of Raleigh Brewing, introduced Hell Yes Ma’am to the ’hood, or when my next-door neighbor brought over some Chatham County ’shine. Ten hours into that one, I turned to the last guy standing by the fire and asked where he lived. “Over there,” he said, waving his hand. “Be careful walking home,” I told him, and called it a night. It’s tradition for us now, leaning toward Thanksgiving morning or News Year’s, but any crisp fall or winter day will do. We don’t steam. We roast on a grate over an open hardwood fire. There’s a primitive aspect to it. There’s also the satisfaction of knowing there’s not an oyster on the planet that’s going to taste better. The succulent flavor of a tender, wood-fired oyster is sublime beyond words.

Hand-drawn map If you’ve never hosted an oyster roast, take this advice: Do it. 88 | WALTER

• There’s nothing like seeing the coloring of a fresh oyster, sprayed clean, alight in the chill of day for the first time. Grey and ivory, pewter and sea green. Beautiful.

Here in North Carolina we are blessed with native oysters that are considered by many to be the best in the world. It’s also a good excuse to stand around a fire, eat, drink, laugh, and look up through the trees with bonedeep gratitude. The process couldn’t be simpler, but does require attention and preparation. For you salts who know these time-worn pleasures, there’s no need to read further unless you’re enjoying this as much as I am. For the uninitiated, I offer what follows not as a step-by-step guide, but as a hand-drawn map of the stars. Navigate at will. This is an outdoor affair. Have good chairs for those who require them. You’ll need seasoned firewood at the ready – quite a bit of it depending on the size of your gathering – along with a large grate or grill screen and a way to stabilize it over the fire. Don’t forget shucking gloves and oyster knives. An excellent outdoor bar is recommended. For rustic sophistication, an old wooden table in the yard or under a tree away from the house creates atmosphere. Keep it simple but well provisioned. Spicy Bloody Marys are nice for early arrivals. Good beer, bourbon, and dark rum serve well as the day settles in. Stock a variety of nonalcoholic drinks, including plenty of water. Depending on the number of guests you’re expecting, set up at least two bar stations. Load up on ice. Order your oysters a week ahead of time – two

weeks if you’re up against a holiday. Seafood houses like Saltwater Seafood or Earp’s in Raleigh will tell you what they have and what they recommend. Trust them. We’re talking North Carolina oysters. You may hear of varieties from Lockwood Folly, Masonboro, Bodie Island, or Stump Sound. The best I’ve had lately come from Engelhard in Hyde County on the inner coast of the Pamlico Sound, where it’s 20 miles across the sound. A bushel, about $80, contains between 100-125 oysters, depending on the size. I look for singles, not clusters. I want them muddy in a burlap sack. Mud means fresh. I prefer a nice rounded shape that yields a mediumto-large oyster since they lose volume as they cook. If your guests are oyster fans, plan on one bushel for every 4-5 people. If your guests are mostly novices, or you are serving other dishes, you’ll be fine with one bushel for every 6-8 adult guests. Schedule pick-up of your oysters no more than a day ahead, or even the morning of the roast if you can. Take a large cooler or plastic container with a secure closure to transport your cargo, and have the market shovel as much ice on top of the oysters as possible. As long as they are on ice and covered, they’ll stay fresh. On the morning of your oyster roast, get the fire going at least an hour before guests arrive. I like to have more firewood than I’ll need in case things go longer than planned, and they often do. A quarter to a third of a FEBRUARY 2017 | 89

cord of seasoned hardwood will get the job done. If you’re hosting 100 people, get a half cord. Once your fire is cranking, keep adding enough wood to get a good spread of coals to build on. While you manage the fire, it’s time to wash oysters. I love the smell of oyster mud. When you first get into your raw, unrinsed bushel around 11 a.m., take it in. Somewhere in the brackish shallows of our estuarial waters – a system comprised of seven sounds and their river sources, second in square miles only to the Chesapeake Bay – a Carolina waterman, maybe a fe90 | WALTER

male waterman, waded into the cold for you. Maybe somewhere in Oyster Creek, near Engelhard. I use a metal grate to hose off the muddy oysters with high-pressure spray. It’s hard to get them totally clean. Just get the mud off. I spray down about a half bushel at a time – roughly 50 oysters – and leave the rest in the sack on ice, well covered. There’s nothing like seeing the coloring of a fresh oyster, sprayed clean, alight in the chill of day for the first time. Grey and ivory, pewter and sea green. Beautiful.

Have a large bucket with bottom ice to put your clean oysters in and cover them. If the sun’s out, keep them in the shade and always covered until it’s time to make magic on the fire. For the oyster table, keep it basic. In truth, any table will do. It’s up to you to set a mood with your furnishings while making sure form follows function. If it’s a smaller gathering, you may opt for a simple farm table that can take the wear. With a larger group, you may prefer to create an oyster bar set-up from a standard 8-foot-by-4-foot board. I made a simple table measuring seven feet long and 40 inches wide, standing 40 inches tall. A quick internet search will give you a number of different ideas. Make sure there’s cocktail sauce. I doctor mine up with extra horseradish. Set out lemon wedges, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. Saltine crackers – only Saltine crackers – and a roll of paper towels. Gloves and oyster knives. A receptacle for easy disposal of shells and recycling. It’s almost time. Freshen up. Put on some good music. If you’re having other food offerings, and you should, get everything picture-ready. Maybe you have some chicken wings in the oven for the kids and your guests who, for reasons known only to them and their maker, are not oyster people. Before guests begin arriving, I like to take a moment for myself. Before I put an oyster on my magnificent roasting fire, I pull one bare-handed from the bucket, pop it open with a knife, and eat it cold and raw. A little taste of the Pamlico. You’ll know how many oysters to put on the fire by the number of guests on hand. Put a dozen on, maybe two dozen if needed. Your fire will get hotter as the day goes on and coals intensify, so move the oysters around every minute or so. Keep them out of direct flame so they don’t char too quickly – it should only take 3-5 minutes for them to bubble open. Once they’ve popped open for a couple minutes, shuck one and look for a tender firmness that makes them easy to remove with your oyster knife. Welcome any hearty souls to take up gloves and knives and go to town. With the first round roasted to perfection inside their shells, gather them either by hand or in a tin pail and deliver to the oyster table. The second dozen or two should already be on the fire. Have a cold beer. Repeat. Folks have different preferences for how they enjoy roasted oysters, whether lightly steamed and juicy or fully cooked, firm and smoked. Some will camp out at the table and others won’t leave the fire grate for hours. There are also those who pitch in and help manage the flow of oysters from ice to fire to table, and pick up on the rhythm of watching, tending, and tasting – coaching the first-timers, sharing in their delight, and celebrating their conversion. A tasty little pea crab, live inside his host, may meet an honorable fate. Glasses are raised, a torch is passed, and a North Carolina tradition lives on. FEBRUARY 2017 | 91




IF YOU WALK DOWN HARGETT STREET PAST THE Architect bar, YOU may notice a single green light glowing above its door. It’s not a relic from a bygone era or an homage to The Great Gatsby. It’s an invitation. Subtle, but that’s the point. The Green Light doesn’t need signs or logos – it’s a speakeasy. Opened in 2013, the space is located behind a wall in a corner of The Architect, tucked behind a bookcase that opens to reveal its secret location. While clandestine in theory, the bar has actually been widely celebrated. In 2015, it was named among Architectural Digest’s “Ten of the best speakeasies across America” and Thrillist’s “21 most secret bars in America.” While it shares a 1922-era building and former architecture office with The Architect, its identity is completely separate. “The

Architect is a really busy place; people don’t even realize how cool it looks because it’s so busy at night,” says Local Icon Hospitality owner Jon Seelbinder, who owns both spots as well as the nearby LevelUp, Virgil’s Tacos, Linus & Pepper’s, and Little City Brewing. In contrast, Seelbinder says The Green Light’s unique setting (and its craft cocktails) are the bar’s focus. “I wanted to create … an elusive, secretive bar that people could sneak off to.” Inside the 32-seater, lights are low and music takes a backseat to drinks and conversation. Windows overlooking Hargett Street are bolstered by cozy banquette seating (upholstered by Raleigh’s Rainbow Upholstery) and small tables. Then, of course, there’s the bar itself. Reclaimed wood from a 1903 Johnston County general store flanks the front, and planks on its footrests are from a nearby historically black schoolhouse. Behind it stands the guy you want to talk to, bartender Geoffrey Cunningham. Not sure what you want? No problem – Cunphotographs by KEITH ISAACS


ningham likes to work one-on-one with his customers to figure out exactly which drink they’d like best. “I think of myself as a little mad scientist,” he says, grabbing bottles from the shelf behind him. He likens it to a chef’s spice rack, but thinks like a chemist, giving a quick rundown of the five taste palates and juxtaposing them with the 400 receptors in the nose. The ideal cocktail is found in the intersection of the two, he says. It’s his job to find that balance. He doesn’t think of drinks in terms of recipes, and he sees a cocktail menu as suggestion, not law; he’d rather dabble in experimental chemistry, mixing flavors and spirits to create the best formula possible. “I try to learn new things every day,” he says. If you can’t make it into The Green Light yourself, Cunningham recently whipped up a drink recipe for WALTER readers to try at home. He says the idea for this drink, which he’s named Trinidad Cocoa, has been whirling in his brain for years, ever since he tried Zaya Gran Reserva rum. (Plus, he’s always wanted a reason to buy a blowtorch.) It’s a warm drink that makes an excellent nightcap, combining rum, cream, and hot cocoa. Amaretto-soaked marshmallows covered in almonds and caramelized (with said blowtorch, or over the stove, or with a garden-variety butane candlelighter) top it off. It’s delicious, whimsical, and a little bit unusual – Cunningham’s sweet spot. And Steelbinder’s. “We don’t want to become stagnant; we want to continue to breath life into this,” says Steelbinder. “It’s an ongoing labor of love for us, and it’s been really fun to watch it play out from what I’d hoped and dreamed it would be, and it really being what that dream was.” 108 E. Hargett St.; Monday - Sunday 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.;

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TRINIDAD COCOA Footed 8 ounce glass (or any glass that can hold a hot drink) 1 1/2 ounces Zaya Gran Reserva rum 4 1/2 ounces hot chocolate* ½ ounce amaretto 2 large marshmallows Slivered almonds Add rum to glass, then fill with hot chocolate until almost full. Add amaretto on top as a floater. Soak two marshmallows in amaretto, caramelize them (either with a blowtorch or over the stove), roll them in almonds, then use as cocktail garnish. Serve.


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Serves 6 10 heaping teaspoons 100 percent unsweetened cocoa powder 16 ounces heavy cream 14 ounces water Mix 1 ounce water with cocoa powder in medium saucepan to create a paste. Add heavy cream to paste mixture and stir, making sure all cocoa is thoroughly mixed. Add remaining water and place on stove to warm to desired heat. Do not boil or overheat mixture.

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Love Home sweet home. It’s the place where you do what makes you happy, be with those who make you smile, and laugh until it takes your breath away. Love is not confined to a space, but lives freely where it’s invited in, to stay for a while. At Allen Tate, we sell houses. But we believe it’s love that truly makes that house your home. For more information visit, or call 1-866-743-1101.

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of a house





A new purpose for the

Poe House FEBRUARY 2017 | 97

previous page and these two pages, photos courtesy WakeMed



TUCKED BEHIND WAKEMED HOSPITAL AT THE END OF AN UNASSUMING side street stands a stately stone house, a gracious counterpoint to the health care center’s sprawling clinical grounds. “It’s always had a great spirit,” says Diane Smith, whose grandparents-in-law – Dr. Clarence Poe and his wife, Alice Aycock Poe – built the house in 1925. After decades of serving as a family home and then as a community event venue, Poe’s descendants donated the property to WakeMed in 2011. Recently, it was restored to serve as a hospital meeting space and as offices for the WakeMed Foundation. “It’s humming,” says Abby Johnston, director of major and planned gifts at the foundation. “We have a home now.”



Clockwise from top: Most of the light fixtures and chandeliers throughout the house are original. The antique furniture in the foyer is from Acquisitions, Ltd. and donated by the Smith family, who are descendants of Dr. Poe (and owned the house and operated it as an event venue for a time in the ’90s). Many of the rugs were donated by WakeMed Foundation staff. Furniture, even in the large living room (pictured on adjacent page), is purposefully spare so that it can easily be moved aside to make room for functional tables and chairs on wheels donated by Alfred Williams and Company: Hospital staff and the WakeMed Foundation board use the rooms for conferences, training, and receptions. “This house is built well,” says Tom Calvander, WakeMed’s vice president of facilities and construction, who led the restoration. “It has a good air to it.”

FEBRUARY 2017 | 99

courtesy Diane Smith

It’s a handsome one, a place with easy elegance. Sandcolored stone and black shutters outside give way to a grand foyer featuring a sweeping staircase. Original chandeliers and light fixtures hang throughout, adding a bit of sparkle to rooms with simple, mostly bare walls in subdued colors and restored hardwood floors. There’s a sunporch on the ground floor and a former sleeping porch – now enclosed with windows – stacked above it. Built-in bookshelves accentuate high ceilings in the downstairs study, which is now a walk-through office. Most every room includes a fireplace, and upstairs two of the bathrooms still have claw-footed bathtubs. Smith says the decision to donate the house was in line with the original owner’s legacy. Clarence Poe, a civic leader and early Raleigh visionary, was a Chatham County native who became associate editor of The Progressive Farmer at 16 and went on to become its editor. He worked in downtown Raleigh for 67 years. When he purchased the plot of land for his house in 1919, it was just far enough from town – a straight three miles – to allow for a pleasant commute: “He rode his horse to his office downtown, and he wanted a good ride in the morning,” Smith says. Gradually, Poe amassed nearly 800 acres, where he put into practice the principles of his newspaper: He made his house out of stone quarried on the property, and built a working farm and 100 | WALTER

VISIONARY dairy. The Poes This page: Dr. Clarence Poe’s daily commute in the ’20s was a three-mile trek on horseback to dubbed their es- downtown Raleigh. tate “Longview” Opposite page: Dr. Poe’s great-granddaughter to honor both Catherine Smith Farley’s wedding reception was held at the ancestral home last May. the scene from the front porch and their intent to stimulate growth and development in the area. Today, that tract encompasses the WakeMed campus and the Longview Gardens Historic District (a residential neighborhood Poe helped create), as well as the grounds of the Raleigh Country Club. The Poe House sits on a remaining 14 acres of land. “It’s always been a home and it’s always been a happy place,” Smith says. “For years, whenever there was a family occasion, it was always there.” Tradition came full-circle last May when Smith’s daughter, Clarence Poe’s great-granddaughter Catherine Smith Farley, held her wedding reception at the home before the WakeMed foundation moved in in September. “Her grandmother was married there. Seventy-five years later, the house was still a happy wonderful place for a family event.” Its current incarnation as home to the hospital’s foundation is “giving the house a rebirth,” Smith says. “It’s bringing it back to life.” Inheriting a home as office space has sentimental gravitas

Vesic Photography

that’s not lost on the hospital staff. “This is an institutional treasure and we knew it needed to be treated differently than other hospital structures,” says the foundation’s executive director, Brad Davis. “When it gets to a home, it feels a bit more personal.” Attention to detail infused every step of the renovation process. “We matched paint colors to old photos (of the house),” says Tom Calvander, WakeMed’s vice president of facilities and construction (who admits with a chuckle that his day-to-day doesn’t usually involve finding someone to carefully clean antique chandeliers). “We worked really hard to maintain the integrity of the original home.” That integrity remains in today’s workspace thanks also to sleek Alfred Williams and Company furniture-on-wheels, a donation from hospital supporter and longtime Foundation board member Blount Williams. Tables and chairs fold up and easily move among the restored original rooms. Many foundation staff members donated rugs and other elements, and the Smith family donated antique furniture to outfit the foyer. The sleeping porch is now a conference room, available for any WakeMed doctors, nurses, and other staff members to rent out and use, and upstairs bedrooms are foundation offices. “We have pretty good team morale, anyway,” Johnston says, “but since moving in, there’s been a noticeable shift. There’s a good vibe here. We take pride in this place.” Smith says that’s everything Dr. Poe would have wanted: for the house to be accommodating and bustling, a place to turn principles into practice. “It’s a wonderful face for the WakeMed Foun-

dation. They’re going to use it, they’re going to love it, and I think it’s what it should be again.” Executive director Davis agrees: “Setting is important for framing who an institution is and what it does. This is a unique setting outside of either a corporate or a clinical setting. You feel miles away. Hospitals are a great place to show impact, but as far as broader conversations – training, planning, celebrating, building camaraderie – this is a special place for WakeMed’s mission to really blossom.”

FEBRUARY 2017 | 101

ARTIST’S spotlight



photographs by PETER HOFFMAN


IN THE BACK OF A FIVE POINTS WAREHOUSE, blacksmith Ben Galata produces custom ironwork using tools he’s made himself. On one side of his workshop is a pneumatic power hammer that pummels molten metal with an eightpound piece of steel. On the other side is a sootcovered coal forge reminiscent of centuries past, flanked by racks of hand tools. All of his equipment looks heavy, hot, and dangerous. Everything he makes with it looks airy and elegant, and can be found in private homes and in public spaces all over Raleigh. You may have seen his grillwork and hardware on the front doors of the warehouse district restaurant Humble Pie, his metal exhibit pieces at Marbles Kids Museum, or his Fiddleheads sculpture on N.C. State’s campus, to name a few.

“Ben is a meticulous craftsman,” says Mina Levin, who with her husband Ron Schwaz has commissioned numerous pieces from Galata, “(he’s) imaginative yet flexible in his designs.” Iron has a long history of use in highly ornamental constructions, and most blacksmiths stick to convention. Not Galata, who uses the traditional material but has non-traditional taste. His creations are minimal and refined. “My focus is on stripping away everything that doesn’t have to be there. For instance, let the intrigue be just in this connection,” he says, pointing out a wall-mounted handrail he made, where two sections of iron join together such that one piece appears to be buttoned into the other. The rest of the rail is a straight line, but that connection is certainly something to look at. “When you see Ben’s work, whether it’s a birdbath or a standing lamp, it’s unmistakable,” says lansdcaper Jim Knott, who works with many of Galata’s clients and is a client himFEBRUARY 2017 | 103

Rob Marnell (standing far right) in a production at Raleigh Little Theatre


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self. “There’s an understated beauty in what he makes.” Galata gets all of his steel locally from Dillon Supply Company. With his mixed-dominant hands (right for strength, left for detail), he forges and welds metal productions of every variety – from small fruit bowls to massive sculptures – doing all of the fine tuning with a homemade hammer. The Westfield, N.J. native made his way south in 1990 to attend N.C. State, and never left Raleigh. These days he has been living here and blacksmithing for longer than not. The first in his family to attend college, Galata enrolled without much direction, but was lucky enough to score a dorm room adjacent to the design school. He took advantage of State’s full design workshop, dabbling in all forms and media. It was the summer after his sophomore year that he spent a few weeks at the renowned Penland School of Crafts in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville. He recalls sitting in on a blacksmithing demonstration: “I saw red-hot metal for the first time, and that was it.” Galata considers himself largely self-taught. As a young college graduate, he snagged some workshop space at Antfarm, a warehouse and creative mecca for a variety of artists in historic Boylan Heights. There, he began to master his craft, focusing primarily on constructing furniture, everything from dining tables to lamps. But Raleigh was growing, and the demand came for architecture: private clients wanted custom iron fences and railings for their homes. Twenty years later, Galata has a new, much larger workshop, and thrives on commissioned work. Still, he hasn’t lost his creativity: “Within every job, I’m crafting. I’m working with a customer’s idea, designing.” Essentially all of his business is word-of-mouth, just like it was when he first started in the pre-internet mid-’90s. Galata’s simple website proves that his jobs come from the name he’s made for himself. It’s not a sales pitch, it’s a portfolio: “I’m one of those people who likes to look at pictures and not read anything,” he says. “The website is just for people to see examples of what I do.” That’s all he needs it to be. Galata values his relationships with designers and builders around town who know and admire his style. He always wants his work to deliver. While most of Galata’s ironwork is in private homes, public pieces show his impressive range: In front of Fred Olds Elementary, for instance, stands a playful, kinetic sculpture made as a memorial for a student. On that piece, tapering stainless steel rods branch out like fishing poles, with colorful intersecting circles that spin. Perhaps the most laborintensive production he’s ever made is also a sculpture, a 17-foot bottle tree complete with dozens of iron branches, each tipped FEBRUARY 2017 | 105

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courtesy Ben Galata

with a lightbulb inside of a glass bottle that, as the old myth goes, is meant to trap evil spirits. This massive piece sits in the landscape of a private backyard. Galata says it might be his favorite thing he’s ever made. Even the pictures of it are magical. The bottle tree, which was taller than the workshop’s ceiling and had to be assembled on site, looks so much like a crepe myrtle that landscapers at first believed it to be a real tree. Galata always oversees installations, and is typically down on the ground at project sites hammering pieces of metal in place. For one client, he constructed a 160-foot fence, complete with a classic arbor entrance, as a private dog park. That project required him to subcontract helpers for installation – he has no full-time employees: “I try to find guys who are where I was, just out of school looking to do creative things,” he says, “guys who are still young and strong with good backs.” A good back is essential for the immense physicality of what he does. Thankfully, many of Galata’s tools – like that pneumatic hammer with a gas pedal – allow him to do in a few minutes what would have taken ancient blacksmithers all day to do by hand.


Blacksmith Ben Galata made his own tools and furnace, above. Grillwork and hardware on the front doors of Humble Pie restaurant showcase his artistry. “The front doors are my favorite part of our restaurant,” says co-owner Joe Farmer. Opposite: Woodworker Evan Lightner, left, talks to Galata. The two share a workshop and often collaborate on projects.

And his work requires not only strength, but speed: Molten metal doesn’t stay molten for very long. A propane furnace he made creates a long tube of heat, soaring to temperatures around 2,000 degrees. He rolls the furnace just outside the workshop door, and there, he can melt and mold small

sections of metal at a time. The plastic, pliable state of molten steel lasts for about two minutes. Galata works expertly in that small window. He admits he doesn’t make many mistakes anymore, but when they do happen, the only real loss is his time, because steel comes cheap. “If you heat metal too long, it will melt away. It’s very much like cooking,” says Galata, whose brother works as a private chef, “but a whole lot hotter.”

Symbiotic creativity All of these tools, scorching hot and hammering loudly enough to echo across a few blocks, do not seem like they would make Galata the best neighbor. But for sixteen years he has shared his workshop with custom woodworker Evan Lightner. “Ben’s tools tend to shake the floors,” Lightner says. Two Christmases ago, Galata gave Lightner a pair of yellow radio headphones to block the noise – “the ugliest things you’ve ever seen,” Lightner says. Still, he wears them daily. Lightner, who looks every bit the carpenter (his impressive beard appeared long before beards were cool) moved to Raleigh in the early ’90s to open a mid-scale diner. Galata used to go there to drink. The diner didn’t last, but their friendship did, and now two decades later the two work side-by-side every day, often collaborating on projects. Like their skill sets, Galata and Lightner just go well together. They play off each other with quick-witted jabs. But while the mood is light, the work is serious, with both of them typically clocking eight hours of physical labor each day, packing on extra time when deadlines get close. “Lots of times I design something and incorporate Ben’s

talents or vice versa,” Lightner says, “Or I might need something metal to make a piece work, so I commission Ben.” One of their first collaborations was a table that sits in the Island Hotel outside of Los Angeles, featuring a forged steel bottom and an oak top with a starburst veneer pattern. Closer to home, they just finished a dining table for a local house: “I did the top and the legs,” Lightner says, “and Ben did a trestle on the underside as well as some stainless steel inlay on the top.” Lightner, too, employs traditional woodworking methods but values the simplicity of modern design. The majority of his work, including wardrobes, benches, sideboards, and desks, resides in Raleigh homes. But you can see some of his most notable pieces at the N.C. Museum of Art: intricate frames displaying masterworks like Renaissance altar pieces and Augustus Saint-Gautens castings. Currently, Lightner is working on a house nearby, fashioning everything from builtins to a staircase railing. He brought Galata in to do the hardware for that handrail. Interestingly, Galata and Lightner both balk at the term “artist.” Neither one wants anything to do with it, though they can’t argue with the fact that people are fascinated by their creations, that people want to keep looking at them. “I hesitate because calling myself an artist feels like patting myself on the back,” Galata says, “A lot of people look at metal, at the end product, and have no idea how that shape got there. People call it art because they appreciate the work.”

FEBRUARY 2017 | 107






HOME. IT’S A BROAD CONCEPT with a myriad OF meanings. Homer touched on it a bit with his boy Odysseus and his travels after Troy’s fall; Faulkner obsessed over home and its rootedness in the past; and I’m pretty sure Bruce Springsteen would just be a dude singing in a New Jersey Applebee’s without his beloved hometown ballads. I think the overall definition of home is fluid and personal, but Frost summed it up pretty nicely when he said, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” If this sounds analogous to a Best Western motel,

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by MIMI MONTGOMERY you’re not incorrect – sometimes home isn’t the best option, but it does tend to serve a continental breakfast. Allow me to reference the lyricism of another laureate, the rapper DMX, when I say home can also be the place where one feels, “Y’all gonna make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here.” I’m almost positive this line is an allusion to visiting his childhood home and hiding in the bathroom, organizing decades-old travel-sized shampoo bottles to avoid conversation and preserve sanity. That or the ritualistic showcasing of one’s masculinity in the face of peer aggression. Either one. Admittedly, I’ve only been on this earth a short 25 years, but I’ve already called a few places home. I was born in

Duke Hospital, in the same room my brother would be born in two-and-a-half years later. I then called Purnell, Raleigh, Gastonia, Charlottesville, Va., and Washington, D.C, home, and then Raleigh again. I’m now settling into my most recent home-again: D.C. And as I look ahead, and look back, the idea of home is a common subject of contemplation in my life, right behind my most-considered existential question: At what time will my next meal be? When my parents took me home from the hospital, even my freshly developed brain could tell my house wasn’t like the other newborns’. Instead of an elegant neighborhood or charming historic home, they brought me back to the trout farm my father managed in Purnell. He had quit practicing law to be amongst the

fish. We lived in a little wooden house that my father found romantic and Waldenesque; my mother maintains it was a picnic shelter closed in with plywood. She may have been right: She once walked into my nursery to find me in my crib, mites crawling down the walls to host a social hour in my little ears; of course, my dad posits this was a positive occurrence, as evidenced by the stellar immune system I boast today. To this day, my mother still cannot talk about this period of life without banging her head against whichever firm object is closest. The trout pond bordered the picnic shelter, and my mother tells a story about the time I fell in and was underwater for an extended period of time before I was retrieved. (Yes, I am quite certain that oxygen deprivation has contributed to my adult mental state.) As a result of this incident, in many of the pictures from my toddler years I am wearing a life vest, even indoors. We were only too happy to share the idyll with a pack of basset hounds: Virginia Woolf, Victor Hugo, and George Eliot, who did not inherit the allure or literary flair of their namesakes. We also had neighbors, a rather rambunctious couple named Minnie and Maynard. One day, they called my parents to ask if it’d be alright for them to hunt the squirrels on our property. Unfortunately, they’d already depleted the squirrel population on their land, and apparently once you’ve developed a palate for squirrel meat, there’s no going back. It was a tough decision, but my parents somehow found it in themselves to acquiesce. Minnie and Maynard didn’t waste any time: They began laying out peanuts and hazelnuts for the squirrels to eat, eventually earning the squirrels’ trust until they were basically tame. Then they snuck up on them, grabbed them by the tails, threw them in a pillowcase, and bashed them upside the head (if you shot them, Maynard explained to my mother, you ran the risk of damaging the meat). Moments like these were why we didn’t have cable television; no show could com-

pete with staring out your back window at a couple with alliterative names swinging rodents around in a bag. We also had beavers. This was extremely problematic for the trouts’ delicate ecosystem, and even more so for my father’s. He went full-on Captain Ahab and waged an aggressive scorched earth attack to beat back the furry invaders. Such devastation hadn’t been seen since General Sherman’s March to the Sea: By all accounts it was a bloody battle, but the most egregious war crime occurred when my mother opened the freezer to find a rock-hard beaver body squashed next to the ice cream. My father was saving it so he could have it taxidermied, he told her, a symbol of his conquest. Despite this reasonable explanation, my mother decided things were getting a little too Deliverance for her liking. It was time to hightail it back to civilization. But not before an affinity for country life, not to mention a great disdain for beavers, had become ingrained on my young psyche. We moved to Raleigh, where my dad renounced all interaction with aquatic creatures, dug out his suits, and became a banker. He worked on Glenwood South, and my brother and I visited him in the afternoons, walking down to Snoopy’s or Char-Grill for hot dogs or a milkshake. We went to Christ Church downtown, which I loved not for spiritual reasons but for the rooster on its steeple and its proximity to the real site of holiness, Marbles Kids Museum. Although inside the beltline, my parents’ inner crunchiness couldn’t be silenced, and they enrolled me in Montessori school. They did the same with my brother, although his time there was more devastation than education. Gibson was what one calls “a spirited child” in polite conversation, although I believe the term “crazy-ass gremlin” may be more appropriate. Gibson believed the great burden of Wake County’s safety sat squarelyonhisthree-year-oldshoulders.Evervigilant, every morning he would don a black bank-robber mask, red cowboy boots, and a plastic knife and gun in a holster

– because a man should always leave the house with at least two forms of protection. The mayor and Wake County police could breathe a sigh of relief: The real head honcho had arrived (he just wasn’t allowed stay up past 8 p.m.). Surprisingly, this did not fly within the Montessori structure, which was a little too Yellow Submarine for Gibson’s taste. If Montessori school was a bowl of macrobiotic miso soup, my brother was an all-American Frito casserole. It just wasn’t meant to be. To make a long story short, there was a security breach on the playground, and my brother, with the power vested in him by Fisher-Price, was forced to secure the perimeter by any means possible. The exact details are debatable, but let’s just say his red cowboy boots were put to good use. Gibson was firmly encouraged to further his education elsewhere; my mom took on the headmaster like a WWE female wrestler one match short of a championship belt; schisms erupted; and, in a nod to our 16th-century Anglican forebearers, the Montgomery clan officially split from the Montessori papacy. Thus ended my time calling Montessori school home; soon after, Raleigh was no longer my home, either. But it left its mark: I still have a Montessori-like appreciation for the granola subculture, and very few things bring me joy like a CharGrill milkshake. Both of my parents’ jobs then took us to Gastonia, a town I’d call home for the next 12 years, until I graduated high school and went to college in Charlottesville, Va. In that little town amongst the blue-green hills I found a home I came to love so much it was hard to believe I’d ever lived anywhere else. A job after college took me to Washington, D.C., where I went on runs through the cobbled streets of Georgetown and drank beer in bars that sat in the Capitol’s shadow. And then something surprising – serendipitous – happened: I got a job in Raleigh. After 16 years, I was moving back to where I started. Living in Raleigh was both familiar and not: I went to services > continued on p. 127

FEBRUARY 2017 | 109






CONNECTION AND COMMUNITY ARE AT THE HEART OF CHRIS BUDNICK’S work. Like many of the men and women who come to his organization for help overcoming homelessness and addiction, the executive director of Healing Transitions in Raleigh says his path to a meaningful and productive life came with challenges.

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photograph by CHRISTER BERG

GIVERS His early years were difficult. Budnick suffered a head injury as a young child, and his father left his family when he was a teenager. By the time he was 12 years old, Budnick was regularly using drugs and alcohol and suffering frequent bouts of depression. He attended his first 12-step meeting at 16, and by 19 he had completed an intensive inpatient, rehabilitation, and treatment program. As a teenager, fresh out of rehab, he could not have imagined that one day he would lead hundreds of men and women to a path of purpose and hope. Today, Healing Transitions (formerly known as The Healing Place) has become one of the nation’s flagship programs for men and women battling addiction and homelessness by providing shelter, food, and therapeutic support. Budnick has been with the organization since its inception in 2001, and became its executive director last year. He also works as an adjunct professor in N.C. State’s department of social work, and helps run Recovery Communities of North Carolina, an organization that holds events promoting recovery,

ity and includes earned privileges in exchange for added responsibilities. The organization has been successful. Despite rapid local population growth, Healing Transitions and its partners have helped to reduce the Wake County homeless population by 25 percent, Budnick says. He’s also proud to point out that more than 70 percent of graduates are still in recovery after a year. Operating with a $3.5 million budget, the nonprofit is now a proud living wage organization, meaning that each of its 50 staff members earn at least $13.50 per hour. Most are Healing Transitions alumni, and about 70 percent are in recovery. Budnick takes great pride in his staff. “Having men and women come back to Healing Transitions to work inspires the folks working the program. It shows them what is possible.” The organization also benefits the entire community, Budnick says. “People in recovery pay taxes. The folks who have completed our program are dedicated to giving back. They volunteer. People in recovery are less dependent on emergency

“The men and women who go through the Healing Transitions program are some of the most determined and generous people you will ever meet.” -Chris Budnick community, and awareness. Budnick is quick to point out that his path to leadership has been bolstered by many “guardian angels” along the way. A framed photograph of a middle-aged man with a hearty smile sits on the bookshelf in his office. “This is Bernie,” says Budnick. “I had just gotten out of treatment, and he hired me to work in his restaurant. It was my first day of work, and out of the blue, he turned to me and said, ‘I am 14 years sober. Today I can look people in the eyes.’” Bernie’s commitment to his own recovery provided a much needed safe place for Budnick during one of the turning points of his life. “There have been others,” Budnick continues, “People who took a chance on me and folks who hired me and believed in me.” Budnick extends this same grace and trust to the Healing Transitions participants and alumni with whom he works. “The men and women who go through the Healing Transitions program are some of the most determined and generous people you will ever meet.” He beams with the pride of a father as he describes the monthly Transition Ceremonies for participants who have successfully completed the rigorous multi-track and peer-led program. The organization offers three main services at both its men’s and women’s campuses: overnight emergency shelter, non-medical detoxification, and a social model recovery program. The social model program is based on peer accountabil-

room visits and less likely to end up incarcerated … They become citizens who contribute to our community.” He also cites less tangible benefits, including a safe and revitalized downtown ripe for business development and real estate growth. As he looks to the future, Budnick says he plans to grow long-term community connections and boost addiction advocacy and awareness. In the meantime, the participants continue to inspire his work. Jessie Bennett, a student at N.C. State and the father of two young children, completed the program in 2013. He says Budnick’s humble leadership approach has been a large factor in his own personal success. “I admire Chris’s desire to make everyone feel important and everyone’s voice heard. He leads by example, and he never talks down to anyone. He is always striving to help everyone become the best they can be and more.” Budnick, an avid reader whose latest favorite book is Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last, says being a leader means always pushing himself to improve. “I want to create opportunities for the people at Healing Transitions to grow. I want for our participants to be a part of the conversations we’re having. We must treat them as resources and not as objects. We ask our participants to embark on a huge journey of self-improvement, and we must be willing to do the same.”

FEBRUARY 2017 | 111




IN SEPTEMBER 1976, ON THE Aldert Root Elementary School playground, there were really only three legitimate male “role models” for first grade boys. Hawkeye Whitney, the star forward on the N.C. State basketball team, was one. Clyde Austin, also of the State basketball team, was another, and then there was Phil Ford, the great Carolina point guard. By Thanksgiving of that year, a boy might have chosen President-elect Jimmy Carter as a role model, and a year later, he might have gone with Han Solo. But in September of 1976, a star basketball player represented everything that a six-year old Raleigh boy, or at least this six-year-



old boy, could aspire to become – masculine and cool. In 1976, dads who had first-graders weren’t role models, at least not the way we use the term today, which is now more analogous to “non-smoker.” In those days, a dad likely wasn’t a non-smoker, literally or figuratively. A dad was a man who lived in the house where your mother was trying to raise you. A dad came and went pretty much as he pleased, and a boy was generally well-served to stay out of his way. That’s why we wanted to be Hawkeye Whitney or Phil Ford. We could read about them in The News and Observer or, in the evening, The Raleigh Times. They played a game that we understood and could actually play, sort of. A dad? Dads were basically a mystery. They just didn’t have a whole heckuva lot to say. Sure, your dad might take you out to Reynolds Coliseum or over to Carmichael for a ball game. And many dads were endowed with incredible stamina, driving

station wagons all the way up or down Highway 70 to Tweetsie Railroad or to the Sea Hawk Motor Lodge for a weekend. But what did they do when they went to work? What did they do all day when they weren’t with you? I knew my dad went to something called the Kiwanis Club from time to time, and he went to work in an office on Atlantic Avenue that smelled like ammonia and overlooked an open field that is now a bridge over Capital Boulevard. But that was about it. So, masculine? Absolutely. Cool? How could a six-year-old know? At the same time, a new program at the Raleigh YMCA called Indian Guides was attempting to change some of that. The program, which is now known nationally as Y Guides, was growing in popularity in Raleigh, but it was not yet by any means considered a rite of passage. But somehow, Raleigh commercial mortgage broker John Dickinson, whose son Michael was at Root, became aware of it and recruited eight other dads to join photographs by MISSY MCLAMB

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him in what had to have been considered at the time a radical social experiment – the dads would commit to spending one Sunday night every month between September and April dressed up like Indians – the term “Native Americans” was not yet in common use – to teach manly things to their young sons. For those of us in the first grade, this was the equivalent to an invitation to fly to the moon with actual astronauts – something that had in fact only been accomplished seven years prior. Nine dads, 10 boys, no moms or sisters. And we each got our own Indian name! John and Michael Dickinson were Walking Bear and Running Bear. Ed Lilly and Steven Lilly were Flying Eagle and Fighting Eagle. Larry and Bo Maddison were Red Falcon and Black Falcon (CPA humor). John and Johnny McConnell were Big Horn and Little Horn. Ed and John Moore were Red Owl and Horned Owl. Buzzy and Vann Russell were Big Foot and Little Foot. John C. and Owen Williams were Big Wave and Little Ripple. Jerry Young, the jeweler, was Shining Rock, and Graham and George Young were Little Rock and Little Pebble. Everybody had amazing Indian names. Everybody, that is, except me. Typically, my dad, Marvin Koonce, older than most of the other dads, had gone out and researched North Carolina Indian lore – and came up with Junaluska for himself and Oconaluftee for me. Lilly got to be Fighting Eagle. I was an unpronounceable river near Cherokee. Not cool. For the next three years, we were the Ocracoke tribe. And, well, we basically did get to fly to the moon. Before there was a Sunday night meeting at your house, you had to deliver handmade invitations, often inscribed on a cross-section of a small tree, to each member of the tribe. That meant you were spending not one but two evenings per month with your dad, one at the meeting, and one riding around in the front seat with no seat belt delivering the invitations you had just crafted. At the meetings, we told ghost stories, built bird feeders out of pine blocks, assembled battery-powered light bulbs, and observed the strict rule of the talking stick. Whomever had the talking stick could

speak, but no one else. The credible threat of actual corporal punishment meted out immediately made it actually work. The annual pilgrimage to Camp Sea Gull was a major highlight; so was the unsanctioned side trip to the Texasgulf phosphate plant near Aurora, where we searched for shark’s teeth among mountains of sediment freshly dredged from the floor of the Atlantic. If you couldn’t find a megaladon tooth in there – well, there was just no helping some people. Dinner at The Trawl Door in Oriental. Jeep-powered trailer rides not just around but into the camp lake. The long trip back to Raleigh, exhausted, with empty Wendy’s Frosty cups on the floor of the Buick from one half of the group and several empty airplane bottles from the other. And then, after the three-year program run was over, the Ocracoke tribe, like the other YMCA Indian Guide tribes, disbanded. But then something unusual began to happen. Or rather, began to not happen. Nobody ever said goodbye. We started to matriculate at different schools, yes, and then different colleges and different careers, but we never lost touch with each other. With unusual frequency, we would find ourselves at a meal or social gathering and realize that everyone present was in our tribe. We had unintentionally begun to hold mini-Ocracoke

reunions. In 1996, the Ocracoke tribe held its first official meeting in two decades – a 20th reunion dinner at the Angus Barn, and all but two members were still living in Raleigh. By the next one, the 25th reunion at the Barn, the only member who wasn’t living here flew back for the occasion (and got lost between the airport and the Barn in a labyrinthine new development called Brier Creek). By the 30th, everyone was back living in Raleigh, though we had lost the first dad – my own. By the 35th, we had lost another, Jerry Young, and by the 40th, we had lost another, John C. Williams. As a father myself now, with two children who are already post Y Guides, I cannot fully explain the Ocracoke tribe and what it is that keeps us together. I know that what binds us is not mere nostalgia, even though we do reminisce. The population of Raleigh was about 172,000 when the Ocracoke tribe first met. Soon it will be half a million. It’s not inertia helping keep us together. It’s gravity. There’s a lot going on in Raleigh. But I think what really keeps us in each other’s orbit is the gentle but genuine interest we have in each other’s lives that we learned from first watching our fathers together forty years ago. It was fascinating. Spending time with your own dad was wonderful on its own; but observing those nine fathers who were not already lifelong friends like we would turn out to be, but who thought to share their time with us taught us a certain humility and mutual respect. They were different from one another, and they weren’t perfect, but perfection wasn’t the goal – it was commitment to nurturing us. It was, in its essence, love. When we gathered at the Angus Barn in October, someone observed that there wasn’t so much as a single divorce among either generation. These Indian Guides had done their job well. They were gentlemen and family men, and they still are. And they weren’t role models. They were heroes. And, Dad, thank you for naming me Oconaluftee. Turns out it’s pretty cool being different. I love you too.

FEBRUARY 2017 | 113




at the Merrimon-Wynne House WALTER hosted its second annual holiday shopping event, Celebrate the Season, at the historic Merrimon-Wynne house Nov. 30. More than 200 guests enjoyed food by Donovan’s Dish, cocktails by Durham Distillery, and seasonal decor by Eclectic Sage. Local vendors including High Cotton, Zest Cafe, la maison, Boho Beads, If It’s Paper, Devolve Moto, and more sold holiday gifts. A portion of the evening’s proceeds benefited the Southeast Raleigh Promise Project.

photographs by KEITH ISAACS

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FEBRUARY 2017 | 115


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Gov. Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper enjoy their first dance

Junior League of Raleigh Inaugural Ball Co-chairs: Whitney von Haam, Melissa Hayes, Astra Barnes, Samantha Thompson Hatem

GOVERNOR’S INAGURAL BALL The Junior League of Raleigh hosted the N.C. Governor’s Inaugural Ball Jan. 6. Originally planned for Jan. 7., inclement weather forced many of the ball’s events to be held a night early at Marbles Kids Museum. Gov. Roy Cooper addressed about 1,750 revelers, and North Carolina natives The Avett Brothers performed. The League has hosted nearly every governor’s Inaugural Ball since 1933. Proceeds go toward organizations serving at-risk youth and women like The Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County, N.C. Smart Start, and SAFEchild. Ronda Moore, Warte’ Moore, Beth Smoot, David Smoot

Julia Daniels, the Honorary Chair of the Inaugural Ball, and First Lady Kristin Cooper

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The Inaugural Ball emcee, ABC11’s Tisha Powell, and an Inaugural Ball guest

Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman, Juanita Bryant

First Lady Kristin Cooper and Governor Roy Cooper

Renee Sprink Photography

Governor Roy Cooper, First Lady Kristin Cooper, and their three daughters, Natalie, Hilary, and Claire




SATURDAY, MARCH 18 • 9:30AM - 4:15PM NC State University • 1101 Gorman Street • McKimmon Conference & Training Center - Room 2


- Albert Einstein

9:30AM - 10:45AM THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP: How it Impacts Memory, Creativity, and the Ability to Process New Ideas Jessica Payne • University of Notre Dame


“Once you stop learning, you start Dying.”

Ready to learn something new, get inspired, and at the same time, be totally entertained? One Day University brings together professors from the country’s top schools to present thought-provoking talks and countless fascinating ideas - all in just a single day. Below is our next unique and captivating event in Raleigh featuring four talented teachers who are like rock stars on their campuses.

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Orin Grossman • Fairfield University


We absolutely agree with Albert Einstein. That’s why for the last 10 years, One Day University has been bringing together professors from the country’s best schools to create fascinating days of learning. The professors listed below have won multiple teaching awards and earned the highest possible ratings from their students on campus. On March 18th, they’re coming to Raleigh for a truly unique and exhilarating day. At One Day U there are no grades, no tests, no homework — just the pure joy of lifelong learning!


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GIRLS ON THE RUN OF THE TRIANGLE SWEET 16 DINNER GALA Girls on the Run of the Triangle celebrated its 16th anniversary Nov. 12 with a black-tie gala at the Umstead Hotel and Spa. The evening’s keynote speaker was Katherine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon; the three winners of the #CarrieOn Awards were also announced. The event raised three times its goal, with proceeds going to the group’s scholarship fund.

Girls on the Run past president Sarah Strunk, John Stiner

Tyrone Irby, Crystal Irby

Tia Bohinc

Girls on the Run executive director Juliellen Simpson-Vos, Triangle chapter founder Mandy Murphey

Kimberly Corrigan, Linda Brechbiel, Steve Brechbiel, Ann Skye, Jennifer Cox

The Wake County Historical Society held its annual holiday gathering Dec. 11. The nonprofit works to preserve the history of Wake County and to educate the public about notable local historical events.

Bill Anderson, Lide Anderson

Brennie Holloman, Charles Edwards

Bridget Christopher, Richard Christopher

Jeanne Clay, Lide Anderson, Bill Anderson, Belle Long, Charles Edwards

Fredrick Walton photography


SAFE CHILD YOUNG AMBASSADOR GATHERING The SAFEchild Young Ambassadors gathered at The Raleigh Wine Shop Dec. 13 for an evening of networking, wine, and hors d’oeuvres. Food and snacks set the scene for a blanketmaking service project.

Dan DeLeo, Kyle Duff, Jen Bordeaux

Brandon Betsy

Susan Youngsteadt, Victoria Aldrin, Evan Jones, Jen Bordeaux, Kyle Duff

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Jeff Cooke, Emily Hodges

Every Life Photography, MaryAlice Joyce

Lindsay Hollandsworth, Meghan Pridemore

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2016 REX GALA The REX Healthcare Foundation held its 29th annual gala Nov. 12 at the Raleigh Convention Center. Three hundred guests attended the Wizard of Oz-themed event, as did Dorothy, the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow. The evening benefitted the state-ofthe-art Heart and Vascular Hospital opening March 2017. Members of the REX Guild alongside Wizard of Oz performers

Perfect Day Images

Helen Ballentine and Frank Shell of First Tennessee Bank

Theresa Essick, Randall Essick Dr. Linda Butler, Dr. James Zidar, Sylvia Hackett

Brasfield Gorrie Team

Brandon Baxley, Ginger Baxley

LOVE LIGHT PREVIEW The Friends of WakeMed celebrated its Inaugural Love Light Preview Party Dec. 1, benefiting the WakeMed Children’s Hospital. Guests enjoyed a winter wonderland of trees and wreaths for auction, music by Tom Neuhauser, and festive door prizes.

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WakeMed CEO Donald Gintzig, Brad Davis, Deb Laughery, Robert Ange

Lee Roberts, John Stump, Lauren Stump

Arek Steciak

Grey Vaughn, Beth Carey, Cooper Bratton, Lauren Stump

Danielle Shuirman, Lauren Smith, Ashley Campbell, Kelly Huffstetler, Anita Pinther, Whitney von Haam, Ragan Ramsey

Lauren Smith

DINNER TO SUPPORT SAFECHILD Jason and Lauren Smith welcomed 12 guests to their home Nov. 19 for a dinner prepared by Jason, who is owner of 18 Seaboard restaurant. The evening supported SAFEchild and its mission to eliminate child abuse and neglect in Wake County.

Lauren Smith, Danielle Shuirman


Balentine, a wealth management firm, celebrated its fifth anniversary in Raleigh as well as the opening of its new Charter Square office space on Fayetteville Street Nov. 30. Guests Robert Balentine, Adrian Cronje, Rob Ragsdale, Erica Far- enjoyed drinks, food, and tours of the new space while members of the ber, David Damiani, Brittain Prigge North Carolina Symphony provided music. Balentine is headquartered in Atlanta.

Elizabeth Phelps and Petra Berenyi of the N.C. Symphony

Front row: Erica Farber, Brittain Prigge, Katie Mock, Emily Barbour, Sarah Lee Back row: Adrian Cronje, Rob Ragsdale, John Maddison, Robert Balentine, David Damiani

Mike Winters

Randy Woodson, Perry Safran, Gary Upchurch, Benny Suggs Kasey Ragsdale, Rob Ragsdale, Cason Maddison, John Maddison

Dr. Kimberly Blackwell, Xiomara Mañón Boyce

FINDING SOLUTIONS THROUGH SCIENCE, SCHOLARS, AND SURVIVORS The Finding Solutions Through Science, Scholars, and Survivors fundraising luncheon highlighted the impact of Susan G. Komen’s national research program on local and national breast cancer research. The event was held Nov. 11 at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education; it provided information about how funds are used to find cures to an audience of 250 survivors, scientists, and supporters who have been impacted by breast cancer.

Tara Dunsmore

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Jim Rothschild, Dr. Allen Mask, Debra Morgan, Pam Kohl, Steve Hammel

Grace White

Rob Ragsdale

David Williams Professional Photographer & Cinematographer


Peter Werbicki, Al Ragland

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FOOD BANK OF CENTRAL AND EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA EVENING OF APPRECIATION The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina hosted its yearly event Nov. 10 to honor and thank its partners. The evening celebrated the group’s new building, which will enable it to continue its mission of serving more than 600,000 North Carolinians facing hunger.

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“because if it weren’t for Saint Augustine’s, I wouldn’t be able to pay a bill.” Ward knows he needs more Hilton Smiths, but he also needs to be creative with what he has, where he can. Walking around the quad, he runs into a few senior administrators, and on the fly, they begin discussing floor plans for an old dormitory that Ward wants to repurpose and lease as temporary space to a local, black-owned drugstore. Its presence would give students somewhere to shop a stone’s throw from the quad – and help the school monetize an aging asset that currently sits vacant. He also plans to work with communities in Southeast Raleigh to improve access to fresh groceries, he says. Then he waves down a group of young men walking across the quad. “Hello, how are my students?” Ward booms. “Y’all doing all right? Good. Don’t forget, turkey dinner tonight, starting at 4. And I’m serving!” Smart policy and shrewd asset management will be critical to Saint Augustine’s’ future, but the word most often associated with the school’s success is “family.” It is often a family connection that brings students to the school, and family connections have kept many of the school’s most important benefactors involved during the hard times. Ward will spend much of the anniversary year traveling around the country spreading the word about Saint Augustine’s. He says he’ll use the school’s 150 years of stories like Smith’s to convince potential students, donors, and investors alike that Saint Augustine’s is an institution on the rise. “We’ve always had to work with less, as far as infrastructure, compared to other institutions,” says Ward. “But what we’ve learned from our ancestors reminds me that if they could make it in 1914, in the 1960s, there’s no reason we can’t make it now. It’s about learning to do the very best that you can with limited resources.” Ward’s conviction and charm will be effective tools of persuasion, but his very presence at the helm of Saint Augustine’s at this difficult point in its history is perhaps the greatest endorsement of the school and the loyal character it can develop in those who give it a chance. Both Ward and Coach Williams are two remarkably talented alumni who could, if they chose, live comfortably in the employ of far wealthier and more stable institutions. “But you have to give back,” Williams says. He has rejected multiple job offers from major Division I track programs to stay at Saint Augustine’s. “It’s not always about finance. It was a hard time persuading my family that this is what I should do, but I’m loyal to whatever I get into. I’m loyal to the people trying to achieve their dreams.” If Ward’s dreams result in a new golden age for Saint Augustine’s, it will be a satisfying return on an investment that began in the summer of 1977 when Ward first arrived on campus. “That’s why I say to faculty and staff that we can’t mistreat not one student,” Ward says. “The very student you turn your back on or pour negative vibes into may be that congressman or that doctor or that attorney you have turned away.” Or, in Ward’s case, that university president.

UNOAKED > continued from p. 109

at Christ Church and sat on the same garden benches my dad and I occupied on Sunday mornings to drink lemonade. The Snoopy’s and Char-Grill were still there on Hillsborough, and the pizza at Lilly’s had gotten even better, if possible. But Raleigh, and North Carolina in general, was different than when I’d left it. Everywhere I went I met people who had no ties to this area whatsoever but had actively chosen to come here, selecting the Triangle over big metropolitan names across the country. Folks were founding start-ups, pioneering virtual reality experiences, making their own 3-D shoes, all right here in the very same place I learned to walk. Previously, I’d seen my state as something to leave behind, a starting point for a wild, exciting life that would no doubt

take place somewhere else. New York, D.C., LA – that’s where the real living was to be done, not in some sleepy Southern place I associated with childhood boredom. But this Raleigh, this North Carolina, was different. This ingenuity, this pioneerism in the place that had cre-

This year, I’m moving back to D.C. to start graduate school at Georgetown. Clearly, my life has held cyclical patterns, for which I’m so happy. It’s a lucky group of people who get to live life in multiple places that hold such strong connections to their past. That said, I’ve long struggled with the notion of home, questioning where my true loyalties lie: Is Gastonia my home? Is Charlottesville? D.C.? Raleigh, or North Carolina in general? Can one choose a home, or is it an association that develops on its own? I think it’s a little bit of everything, thankfully, a little bit mysterious and unknowable, but at once familiar and rooted, and for that I’m glad. Despite all talk of latitude and longitude, home to me will always be the quirky moments that slowly molded me, the people I love, and all the places I’ve been. I’m just glad Raleigh is on the list.

This ingenuity, this pioneerism in the place that had created me, instilled a greater sense of pride than I could have ever possibly imagined. ated me, instilled a greater sense of pride than I could have ever possibly imagined. I was suddenly that dork who wanted to buy a North Carolina T-shirt or pushed local beers on out-of-town guests. Like any great love story, it took leaving and coming back to make me realize how lucky I truly am.






The WALTER Scribo The answers to the following clues are in this issue. Happy reading! ACROSS 1. Mike Anderson makes fiddles in this N.C. town. 3. A cozy downtown spot for a cocktail. 8. These only children formed their own Raleigh group. 9. Real estate maven and February profile subject. 10. The president of St. Augustine’s University. DOWN 2. Robert Fritz sells what? 4. A new playground opened in this park. 5. Alton Cangelosi of Mr. A’s Beignets is from where? 6. DJ K Stones loves this song by Salt-N-Pepa. 7. Ben Galata works with this material.



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WALTER profile Architect Louis Cherry

Shared spaces Coworking in Raleigh

House with heart The Boys & Girls Club designer show home

Whiskey Kitchen Recipes from the restaurant

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the Reynolds Family Michele Gillespie, Dean, Undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences, Wake Forest University; Phil Archer, Betsy Main Babcock Director of Program and Interpretation, Reynolda House Richard Joshua “R. J.” Reynolds and his wife, Katharine, became one RI WKH 1HZ 6RXWKÊV PRVW LQIOXHQWLDO FRXSOHV 'HGLFDWHG WR SKLODQWKURS\ WKHLU XQLTXH SDUWQHUVKLS UHDFKHG IDU EH\RQG WKH IDPLO\ DQG WKHLU KRPH Reynolda House— a breathtaking estate and model farm that today houses RQH RI WKH 6RXWKHDVWÊV ILQHVW FROOHFWLRQV RI $PHULFDQ DUW )ROORZLQJ WKH SUHVHQWDWLRQ *LOOHVSLH ZLOO VLJQ FRSLHV RI Katharine and R. J. Reynolds: Partners of Fortune in the Making of the New South.

Tuesday, February 21, 7 p.m. North Carolina Museum of History 5 East Edenton Street • Daniels Auditorium $8 per person; $5 for Associates/museum members To register, visit For information, call 919-919-807-7835.

Snap CHAT Return of the Mack, any Michael Jackson song, and Push It by SaltN-Pepa. The craziest party you’ve ever DJ’d? Probably one of my first solo nights DJ’ing in Raleigh at The Black Flower. The owner gave me a Tuesday to prove my skills and to see how many people would show up. The place was packed, and I realized this was something I wanted to do forever. Where are your favorite places to DJ in Raleigh? I like playing at all of the venues for different reasons. Each spot has their own type of crowd and requires different formats. Where’s your favorite local place to go listen to music? I mostly go to The Black Flower and The Pour House for local live music. I also love to go to Red Hat and Walnut Creek for some of the bigger shows.



OU MAY KNOW HER AS KRISTEN STONEMAN, BUT WHEN she steps in front of the turntables, she’s DJ K Stones. The Raleighite and East Carolina University alum has been DJ’ing for 10 years (seven of them full-time), spinning tunes at corporate functions, sporting events, bars, clubs, birthday parties, weddings, and every other occasion and location inbetween. She knows her stuff: Stoneman served as WZMB 91.3 FM general manager and hip-hop director and was the 2011 Carolina Music Awards DJ of the Year and the 2011 Raleigh Downtowner Favorite DJ. She’s planned local events like Soundfest and her work with Scratch Events has led to gigs DJ’ing for Sephora, Chanel, Madewell, InStyle magazine, and more. Below, she talks music, local haunts, and tips for packing the dance floor. –Mimi Montgomery

What kind of music were you into growing up? Thanks to my family, I loved Motown, R&B, and old school hip-hop. What was the first party you ever DJ’ed? It was at a venue called The Hideaway in Greenville, N.C., circa 2004 on two CD decks and a book full of labeled CDs. Who are some DJs you look up to? I loved Jam Master Jay and Spinderella growing up. Now most of my favorite DJs are local. Who are some of your favorite musical artists? Prince, Jay Z, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Al Green, J. Cole, Jess Glynne, Alicia Keys, John Legend (and so many more). Which three songs are your go-tos for getting people on the dance floor? That usually depends on the event I’m DJ’ing. I’d say my favorite go-tos are Mark Morrison’s

If you weren’t a DJ, which other career would you choose? I’d be a chef. Cooking is definitely one of my passions. Choose one: The Electric Slide or Cha-Cha Slide? Ugh, don’t make me choose! I’d pick The Electric Slide. It’s a classic! Choose one: Shout or YMCA? Gotta go with Shout! I never get sick of people getting low and bringing it back up. Choose one: Vinyl or digital? I love the sound and respect the history of vinyl, but nowadays it’s much easier to go digital. Choose one: Bose headphones or Beats by Dre? I prefer Pioneer headphones, but if I had to choose between the two... BOSE!; @djkstones on Instagram and Twitter;

photograps by JILLIAN CLARK

130 | WALTER

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