Growing up in Rowan County as I did, when someone mentions Spencer, you instantly think of the Spencer Shops … better known as the North Carolina Transportation Museum, as I was corrected by the Mayor of Spencer, Jim Goble. I had the pleasure of talking with Mayor Goble a few weeks ago about Spencer, its history, its current state, what direction it’s heading, and why we should visit this great community on the north end of Rowan County.
As I sat down with Mayor Goble, his excitement for his community came right though. Our first topic was The Park Plaza. If you read the Salisbury Post, they have reported on the status of this property over the years. The town of Spencer has kept up this property until recently the Town Council purchased the available/vacant parcels. They now have plans to move Town Hall to become an anchor tenant. Their current Town Hall is a repurposed dormitory for the old Spencer Shops. When railroad personnel had a layover, this is where they stayed. Later in life, it was a YMCA facility before it current use as Spencer’s Town Hall.
Due to the town’s investment in this property, they are now seeing new interest and excitement in this block. The owner of the adjacent parcels is currently cleaning and dressing up the exterior of his buildings. Other parcel and land owners are starting to do the same as well. The town also has plans to add a new park to the front side of the property in the next few years. What’s the old saying: A high tide lifts all boats? That is exactly what is happening here.
As Mayor Goble and I talked, we moved on to another prideful topic of his, The Fred and Alice Stanback Educational Forest. Nestled in the middle of Spencer, this 52-acre tract of land is a hidden gem. If you take the time to visit this area, you will witness the investment that has been made by the town and key visionaries. With 2.5 miles of walking trails that connect to the Cal Ripkin Baseball Park, two picnic shelters and a pond with a floating dock, you can spend a nice afternoon enjoying all this forest. After my visit with Mayor Goble, I strolled through the forest on the walking trails. What a treasure to have just down the street from a central business district.
Historic Wilcox Bridge Park
Mayor Goble then shared an update on the Wilcox Bridge Project. Davidson County has been hard at work, creating a great new park and historic educational area just across the river. Mayor Goble has had the honor to be a part of the group that is shaping this plan. He is bringing information and plans back to Rowan County and Spencer.
The town has now partnered with a private investor to secure a parcel of land on the Rowan County side of the historic Wilcox Bridge. “Spencer’s plan is to create a new static park on the Rowan County side to complement the work currently being done on the Davidson County side,” Mayor Goble says. This project is a great example of community leaders working together on a project that will increase the awareness of the history of our county, while creating a new park for recreation and wellness. I look forward to this project coming to fruition.
A Short Drive From Anywhere
Lastly, we spoke about something near and dear to me as a Mayor, our central business district, the businesses, and our merchants. With the coming investment from the town to the Park Plaza, downtown is coming alive! There are many great businesses in Spencer, just a short drive from anywhere in Rowan County.
Mayor Goble asked me “Did you realize that Spencer is home to the only doll and toy museum?” Owned and operated by Beth Nance, this museum has a huge doll house display, handmade doll furniture, a Cub Scout and Boy Scout uniform display, toy fire trucks, yo-yo’s, and so much more! It is funded by a small admission fee, which is well worth the visit. Downtown is also home to the Little Choo Choo Shop, Mary Mae’s – A Southern Mercantile, The Band Attic Music Store, and Barnhardt Jewelers, just to name a few.
I can’t write about a small town without talking about its great restaurants. Spencer has some great options for dining. They have Pinocchio’s Italian Restaurant, Hendrix Barbecue, Italy Café, Spring Garden Chinese, Bojangles, Subway, and the Wine Store (I was told they have half-price wine on Thursday nights). These are all great options for anyone to take the short drive to Spencer for an evening out or just a change of scenery.
When I reflect on my short time with Mayor Goble, I know that Spencer has something to offer everyone. From the NC Transportation Museum, to an amazing nature preserve, to shopping galore, and plenty of places to eat a wonderful meal, Spencer is a place to cruise around on your golf cart, catch an event downtown, or just relax with a local glass of wine. Spencer is truly a place we can call home. Spencer is a place where you can #BeAnOriginal. Right here in #YourRowan.