By Frank and Kay Whatley
On a vacant lot, a two-story commercial building was constructed in 1924. First used as a funeral home and auto showroom, residential apartments were rented on the upper floor.
That building became what is today 115-123 S Church Street, Rocky Mount NC.
By 1936, the auto showroom, Bullock Auto Sales, had expanded. Bullock Auto Sales occupied the building through 1960 when the space was vacated. Just a few years later, in 1965, Bel-Air Chevrolet began operating in the building — owned by the Bullock family.
Back in the day, 123 South Church Street was the parts department of Bel-Air Chevrolet. Steel beams and posts provide additional support for the second story garage service area. A hydraulic lift moved vehicles from the first floor to the second for service.
The storefronts and auto showroom at the northwest corner have been altered. The rear auto service space, now artist and artisan studios, still has its pressed metal ceilings, an elaborate metal cornice, metal casement windows and a concrete floor.
Walk into 115 South Church Street today and enter the Bel Air Artisans Center. On the other side of the building is 123 South Church Street, currently being renovated by owners Ron and Hilarie Vetere into an eatery.