ROCKINGHAM — Richmond county native Dr. Wanda Wall Spivey has returned home with the idea of sparking development and revitalization through the neighborhoods around the Leak Street Community Center, Mount Pisgah AME Zion Church and the Providence Missionary Baptist Church all located around Washington Street.
In July of 2021, Spivey, along with Bruce Stanback, called various issues to the public’s attention regarding rebuilding and revitalization the local area.
Spivey grew up on South Grove Avenue as the youngest child in a family of nine.
“(Including our parents) there were nine of us living in this small house. I grew up with my three brothers sleeping on a pull out couch in the front room and me and my four sisters slept in the back bedroom,” Spivey said.
In the past 15 months, the city of Rockingham has removed six dilapidated homes in the neighborhood. A seventh house is soon to be removed to make way for proposed new construction.
Click here to read about the latest demolition ordinance.
Neighbor Jarvis Crowder adds that by following along with Spivey, the other neighbors could see the value of their homes increase.
“With the hard work of Dr. Spivey, there will be multiple opportunities to do something for the neighborhood,” said Crowder. “In actuality, this entire neighborhood is in the middle of everything and people are beginning to take pride in their property, and I hope with what Dr. Spivey has done here, it will cause a ripple effect throughout the neighborhood and people will begin to take real pride in their property.”
Spivey says that she sees a great deal of potential in her project.
“In growing up here during the time that I did, I know what Rockingham was, and I know what it can become again.”
Spivey feels that there has been a great deal of neglect of the historical homes as well as in the local neighborhoods.
“As you drive around and you see all of these houses that are beginning to become run down and you realize that some of these homes that were built from the turn of the 1900s through present day have fallen into such disrepair,” Spivey said. “These beautifully crafted masterpieces with all they had to offer are now slowly becoming eyesores. Those houses do not deserve to be forgotten, they deserve to be remodeled and rejuvenated.”
According to Spivey, there are many in the community who want to make Richmond County another Moore County, but she does not feel that is the answer.
“I think one thing we must be sensitive to is that we’re not trying to make Rockingham (into) Southern Pines or Pinehurst,” said Spivey. “We’re trying to revitalize Rockingham in to what Rockingham was but working towards the growth of the future and to what Rockingham can become.”
Habitat for Humanity could play a part.
“There are entire communities that are being built by Habitat for Humanity,” said Spivey. “I visited one Habitat community in Orlando, Florida, that was at one time in gross disrepair but now is flourishing. Habitat is part of the solution. They can come in and transform an area. What level of interest could we generate through them? I don’t know, but with their investment, we can do the same.”
“I was born in 1959 and I don’t know if anyone had the idea that I’d wind up with a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech and a master’s degree from the Wharton School of Business and involved in something like this,” said Spivey. “I feel like there are others who would be interested in working on a project like this. I don’t know who they are, but I know they are out there.”