|H. D. Poindexter House in 2012.|
This was intriguing. I didn't doubt for a minute that he was right; he knows his buildings! When I suggested on a different day that we go to the public library to research the integration of the public libraries in our city, N. said he wanted to learn more about this house instead: who was Poindexter, when and why was the house moved?
|H. D. Poindexter House in 1963. Digital Forsyth.|
The archivist recommended we return another day to speak to local historian Fam Brownlee, who heads the North Carolina Room. After he got over his surprise that a seven-year-old boy wanted to know about the Poindexter House, Mr. Brownlee told us all about it. It turns out Brownlee himself had written that application for the National Register of Historic Places and had been one of the primary forces in saving the house when Integon expanded. Fresh out of college, he, with a couple other local people, convinced Integon to donate the house, found a new lot to move it to, wrote the application, etc. In fact, his involvement with the Poindexter House was the beginning of his career as a local historian. Our conversation with him was fascinating.
|Having fun with the microfilm reader.|
N. absolutely loved browsing the microfilm, reading the ads, marveling at prices, checking out the comics. It seemed like magic to him that you could read old newspapers this way. Eventually we found the story we were looking for: January 5, 1978. "Move of Poindexter House Runs Into Trouble. Weight Breaks Tractor: Stretch of Mud Looms." N. was fascinated! We printed out copies of the newspaper stories, the National Register application, etc. and N. saved them in a folder.
|a photo of a newspaper page (1/6/1978) on microfilm|
The owner of the Poindexter House quoted in the news stories from 1978 is still listed in the phone book as living there, so I suggested to N. that he write to him. N. wrote a sweet letter explaining his interest in and research on the house and asking the owner if he'd be willing to meet and tell him more about the house and the process of moving it. He has not received a reply.
I suggested to N. that he might do some sort of project culminating all he's learned about our city's history, the gradual transformation of 5th Street from a "Millionaires' Row" of Victorian houses to the site of downtown office buildings which left the Poindexter House stranded among towers and parking lots, the mercantile history of this area, how to do research, etc. Perhaps he could make a drawing, a story, or something else that would help cement his learning through the process of creating. But N. declined, saying he preferred to keep this information in his head, that that was enough for him.