Local News

History Lives in Wake Forest

Posted May 30, 1998

— We live in a 55-mile-an-hour world where the little things in life sometimes get lost in the blur.

Wake Forest is slower than that.

Look for the details. They may not jump out at you from the tanning salon's sign. Or the martial arts sign.

But look closely at the bagel window. What's reflected in the glass gives you a clue. History lives in Wake Forest. Old bricks across the street.

Very old bricks. The days of black cars and diagonal parking.

Children, now grown old, whose faces, caught way back then in glossy tones of black and white, are recorded today in all their color -- and wrinkles.

Old films. Some young people caught for an instant by a camera. An everyday moment. But stop right there.

It's the "Holding and Company" sign behind them that you need to notice. A drug store. A seed company.

Antique pictures. Names forgotten.

"We made lemon and limeades, organgeades...with real lemons and lime. We didn't use the packaged stuff. We made milkshakes with real ice cream. Good and fattening!" recalls Sue Holding, the building's present owner, with a laugh.

If buildings have a soul, this one's been saved by noticing the details.

Sue Holding explains the neon sign -- which runs over the ceiling in huge letters. "It was a "T" then an "E" and an "H" in neon lights. And this was some of the first neon. And this is the same neon, and it works!" she says.

Thomas Elford Holding.

Mr. Holding's store, with the lights, is now a restaurant. With its original tin ceiling, in fine shape. Something else...when the building was refurbished old apothecary jars were found in the basement. They've been cleaned up and saved.

All part of the new history in Wake Forest.

"We're getting people coming down from Raleigh and other areas that are saying, 'Wow what a neat town,' just because there is something to do here," says restaurant owner Michelle Skipper.

The old pharmacy shelves may be stocked with croutons.

And the old pay phone in its dark cabinet with greeny-black bumpy walls is not quite ready for speed dialing.

But the spirit is here. One seat at a time. One person at a time. One town.

And even if the prices have changed for a chicken or steak meal, it's not the money that counts.

It's what you see through the window. "Open for business."

A downtown with a new future that can be seen through very old glass.

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