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The Douglas Block takes its name from the Douglas Building which is prominently located at the corner of NE Main Street and East Thomas Street. It is the anchor building for the Douglas Block and was the catalyst for the emergence of the Douglas Block as the African American business district during the segregation period. The building was constructed around 1916 and expanded between 1917 and 1922 when two additional bays were added on the north side to the original four bay building. For many years, Dr. Junious Douglas, a pharmacist, operated the Douglas-Armstrong Drug Company in the first bay of the Douglas Building. There were many other businesses and professional services that occupied the first and second floors of the Douglas Building throughout the decades, contributing to the vitality of the Douglas Block commercial district.

Other historically significant buildings figured prominently in the history of the site. These include the Manhattan Theater (c. 1940; 122 E Thomas St.), the Booker T. Theater (c. 1910; 130 E Thomas St.), the Burnette Building (c. 1924; 138-40 E Thomas St.), the Stokes Building (c. 1924; 200-10 E Thomas St.), and the Thorpe Building (c. 1905; 201 E Thomas St.).

During its golden age, the Douglas Block was brimming with economic activities and entrepreneurial spirit. It was the heart of the community. On Saturday afternoon you could find everything from clothes to doctors, food to entertainment, dancing and plenty of jazz, and see all your friends along the way. It was a community full of spirit, diversity, and an incredible hub of commerce, culture and entertainment.

A Joint Venture of the Rocky Mount-Edgecombe Community Development Corporation and the City of Rocky Mount, North Carolina
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