If you've ever traveled along Highway 64 west towards Raleigh, you may have wondered about this old stone fireplace from another era. It sits on an embankment on the right just past the Neuse River.
On a rainy winter day when this photo was taken, it had a spooky vibe, but you could imagine that it had once been a place where people had fun. These days, the substantial granite fireplace is forlorn with smilax vines getting the better of the terraced walls nearby.
Several years ago, The News & Observer ran an article about this fireplace based on the memories of area residents. Turns out, it could have been constructed as part of a rest area along the old road from Raleigh to Tarboro.
Highway 64 Revisited
In her book, "The Historic Architecture of Wake County North Carolina," Kelly A. Lally wrote that it may have been built in the early 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps or Works Progress Administration. The remaining stone columns, built from Rolesville granite, look like they might have supported a wooden picnic structure adjacent to the fireplace. The grapevine joints seen in the photo were often used locally to finish stonework during that period.
Other readers remembered that it had been used as a barbecue pit prior to World War II and maybe into the 1950's. Workers would roast a pig in the heavy stone fireplace and carry the food across the street to customers of King's Riverside Resturant. Everyone recalled that the food at King's was good, and people came from as far away as Rocky Mount to dine and dance.
Eventually, the restaurant was sold and later torn down when Highway 64 was expanded from two lanes to four lanes. Running across Highway 64 with food in your hands today – now that's hard to imagine.
If you remember when this abandoned stone fireplace was in operation, please share your thoughts below.
Originally posted February 28, 2011