Type anything to search the archives

Craig Riggsby is never without his chestnut leather hat when he leaves his house; adorning it with a word bracelet that spells "soapbox". "My wife made it for me and it's always on it, he said.

Soap and service

story by Angelo Angel

Craig Riggsby and his wife Susan made their home on a Morehead site in the fall of 2016 occupied by three abandoned buildings and inundated with tall grass. A burly man in faded overalls with a pistol tucked into its chest pocket, a chestnut leather hat and a salt and pepper beard, Riggsby recalls how desolate the property was.

“People didn’t think that we’d be able to turn the land into something worthwhile," Craig recalls. “Now almost a year later, I’d like to think otherwise.”

The land has new buildings for his business, MKM Soap, an in-progress deck and a home for the Riggsbys. What they have in mind for the once lost lot is a center for the Haldeman community, a place to take their children, purchase soap and snacks and host events. And the community is elated.

“I’m happy because the community is happy,” Susan said. “We have people come every day and tell us they want us to buy the property across the street because they saw us clean this (Haldeman Brickyard) up, so we can clean that up as well.”

The reborn land was the grave of the brick factory, which opened at the beginning of the 20th century, employing several hundred people who resided in now defunct town of Haldeman.

“The brickyard produced bricks for the area and was the heart of the community during its time," Craig says. "It had everything for the workers: on-site doctors, housing, cafeterias. It even had a tennis court.”

The Haldeman Brickyard went through several owners before officially closing in 1958, extinguishing the flame in its ovens and indirectly draining the town’s life force. That flame is smoldering again, as Craig works with community leaders to offer the center for the area.

“It comes from what I learned in the military,” Craig says. "I don’t say I’m gonna do something and not do it. I’m a man of my word."

IMG_2

Craig Riggsby, 55, likes to get animated when he talks. His baritone voice fills whatever room he happens upon; his hands follow suit.

IMG_3

Craig and Susan Riggsby adore all the dogs they have: six total with two indoors and four outside. They like to make faces to their dogs after a day at the shop.

IMG_4

The Haldeman community center serves as a place where kids can attend after-school activities and stay out of trouble. "Once I have my property ready, I’ll be able to host the kids and help out the community organizers at Haldeman." Craig Riggsby said.

IMG_5

The construction underway at the former Haldeman Brickyard has attracted a variety of individuals looking to support the project. Craig Riggsby spoke with Michael Cox who offered his assistance any way he can to support the construction endeavor.

IMG_6

Craig Riggsby carries a pistol in his suspenders for many reasons but especially to confront looters. "People from around the community come to my property to try to sneak one of the Haldeman bricks home with them, either for a foundation they’re working on or just to have a piece of history," Riggsby said. "I like to make sure they’re not stealing what’s mine."

IMG_7

When the days seem to stretch at the shop, Netflix and DVDs are a source of entertainment for Susan and Craig Riggsby.

IMG_8

Craig Riggsby stands by proudly as his bubble machine fills the air with bubbles.  Riggsby wants to create a welcoming center that takes the place of the long defunct Haldeman Brickyard and the bubbles are his way of creating atmosphere for events. "It can be used for a variety of occasions like concerts, weddings and birthdays we could possibly host," Riggsby said. "More importantly though, the kids will love it."