Alex Albright

pages from the crossroads
Fountain • R.A Fountain, General Store
252.749.7974 • 252.864.3239

Portrait by Louise Oligny at Casita Brewery, Aug. 26, 2023

Louise and her partner, Patrick Artinian, were Eyes on Main Street’s resident photographers during August 2023. They stopped by to visit Freeman Vines as part of a pitch to Mediapart, the online journal published in Paris, to explore Wilson and Pitt counties; they wound up with a lot of photos and stories about MusicMaker East, Freeman Vines, and Lightnin’ Wells, among other area subjects. They took lots of photos and Louise played some trumpet to Freeman’s guitar accompaniment and were great folks to hang out with. Too bad they had to go back to Paris but they said they’d be back one day!

Jan Wunsch, from the Czech Republic, was an Eyes on Main Street resident photographer in 2018 when he snuck this picture of me on old US 264. For his residency, he’d gotten dropped off in downtown Wilson without a car–and seemed to enjoy our little tour on NC 222 / US 264 alternate. The burger & Coke from Little Rocket pleased him most of all.

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Rear view of Smith-Yelverton building

Both buildings have four 2nd story windows facing north and four on their front sides facing south.

 Smith-Yelverton & R.A. Fountain were built by J.B. Procter of Rocky Mount with bricks made on site in 1916-17. Smith-Yelverton was originally used for storage for R.A. Fountain, whose general merchandise store shared a  thick brick wall with Smith-Yelverton. Except for the eight 6′ x 4′ windows facing west on the 2nd floor of Smith-Yelverton, they are virtually mirrors of each other, totaling together nearly 7,000 square feet. I purchased SY in 1996; Elizabeth, our son, Silas, and I moved to Fountain in 2001. I was the first non-Fountain to own RA when I purchased it in 2003. Then, with the Fountain family permission (and a small fee paid to a Boston craftsperson who used the “” URL) Elizabeth and I opened R.A. Fountain, General Store & Internet Cafe in 2004. In November 2023, we began our 21st season of live concerts. Silas graduated from AppState in 2021, a communications major with a sports journalism concentration. He was sports editor at The Mountaineer, in Waynesville, until March 2022, and a crewman repairing trails for national parks for a few months before accepting his current job, sports editor at the Courier-Times in Roxboro. Elizabeth–who retired  in October 2023–and I are still living in the old R.A. Fountain house (1909), a couple of blocks from these buildings.

The R.A. Fountain / Smith-Yelverton buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, as part of Town of Fountain’s Historic District, which was established in 2015. In 2022, we completed restoration work on the building that included a new roof and historically appropriate windows.

Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, January 2023. Photo by Silas Albright

Backdoor Smith-Yelverton Portrait, August 2020, by Tim Duffy

–January 7, 2024

Photo by Louise Oligny / Patrick Artinian at Casita, Wilson, 2023.