2018 Patrons' Party

 Historic Macon celebrates our patrons at The Tubman Musuem.

Historic Macon celebrates our patrons at The Tubman Musuem.

As one of the newest members to the HMF staff, I am still getting acquainted with this versatile organization and our expansive work throughout the community and beyond. The deeper I wade, the more impressed I become. If someone were to ask me what HMF’s most outstanding characteristic is, I would need some time to consider the answer. Though I would be tempted to say the unique, innovative approach to revitalization through preservation or the highly skilled, professional, diligent team I work alongside day in and day out, ultimately I must concede that the members themselves stand out as the most exceptional trait.

From my very first day with HMF, members have surprised me with an astonishing level of involvement, whether it be time, money, energy, ideas, connections, or resources. How many organizations like ours can boast over 3,500 volunteer hours a year? And that number is only growing. HMF members continually amaze me with their passion for preservation and commitment to Macon.

It is for this reason I eagerly prepared and welcomed the Patrons’ Party this past January, hoping all would be just right for our faithful members. How excited I was to experience my first one, brimming with the friendly faces of those who have characterized my inaugural months with HMF. Despite months of preparation, much to my chagrin there were still slight hiccups throughout the night (like temporarily darkened restrooms, runaway name tags, or missing bourbon), laughter still resounded throughout the atrium, assuring me that our members were enjoying themselves nevertheless.

The Patrons’ Party can only communicate a fraction of our gratitude, but I hope the importance and value of your involvement was and is clear. Thank you for your membership, we wouldn’t be who we are without you.


Las Vegas: A Preservation Theory Mecca?

Most people probably don’t think of Las Vegas, Nevada as a historic preservation hotspot. However, I recently attended the National Council on Public History’s (NCPH) annual meeting in Las Vegas and found several opportunities to engage with important questions facing the entire preservation community.

We had many great discussions about preservation and architecture at NCPH, but one opportunity that stands out is a tour of the Neon Museum. The museum was founded in 1996, and their initial collection was the “Neon Boneyard” that belonged to the Young Electric Sign Company, more commonly known as YESCO. Today, visitors have the opportunity to take hour-long guided tours of the outdoor collection.

 The Neon Boneyard originally belonged to YESCO and it became the initial collection of the Neon Museum when the organization was founded in 1996. Today, the museum collects not just neon, but any sign from Las Vegas.  Image by Kim Campbell.

The Neon Boneyard originally belonged to YESCO and it became the initial collection of the Neon Museum when the organization was founded in 1996. Today, the museum collects not just neon, but any sign from Las Vegas. Image by Kim Campbell.

My group was lucky, in Las Vegas no less, to have Tracey Sprague, the Collections Assistant, lead our tour, so we talked a lot about preserving these signs. Although the Neon Museum does have an offsite indoor storage space, ninety-five percent of the collection is exposed to the elements of southern Nevada in the Boneyard. We asked Tracey how she felt about this fact, and she told us about the constant internal battle between keeping the signs visible to the public in the Boneyard and better preserving them in the private storage space. Since almost all historic buildings are exposed to the elements, we face similar issues of maintenance in historic preservation, though typically without the option of moving them to a more protected space.

Golden Nugget_Boneyard.jpg
 Although many casinos and hotels in Las Vegas are demolished to make way for totally new businesses, others have gone through several facelifts or “re-brandings.” The Golden Nugget is one of those casinos and is still open in the “Glitter Glutch” section of Las Vegas Today.  Images by Kim Campbell.

Although many casinos and hotels in Las Vegas are demolished to make way for totally new businesses, others have gone through several facelifts or “re-brandings.” The Golden Nugget is one of those casinos and is still open in the “Glitter Glutch” section of Las Vegas Today. Images by Kim Campbell.

Only a few of the neon signs in the Neon Boneyard now light up. When asked why this is the case, Tracey explained that the process of “restoring” a historic neon sign actually involves gutting the original electrical system and replacing it with a modern system to ensure it is safe. When rehabilitating historic buildings, we constantly face this same decision. Should we gut the building and essentially make it modern inside? How little can we remove while meeting minimum life safety requirements? This battle is ever present in the field, and while the Neon Museum has the option to strictly preserve some signs in their non-functioning state, preservationists are typically faced with the option to either allow a building to be demolished or make it functional for modern life.

 Whether or not signs are rehabilitated to function is decided on a case-by-case basis. La Concha’s sign was relit for interpretive purposes, since the visitor’s center is now housed in the moved original structure.  Image by Kim Campbell.   

Whether or not signs are rehabilitated to function is decided on a case-by-case basis. La Concha’s sign was relit for interpretive purposes, since the visitor’s center is now housed in the moved original structure. Image by Kim Campbell.  

The Neon Museum presented one final key preservation issue: that of a moved building. The visitor’s center and gift shop is an incredible example of a mid-century modern structure in the Googie style. Paul Revere Williams, the architect of the building, was the first African-American architect allowed in the American Institute of Architects. (To learn more about Paul Revere Williams, check out this great episode of 99% Invisible recommended to me by my coworker Lauren Mauldin.) This building was originally La Concha Motel on the Las Vegas Strip. When it closed in 2004, it was threatened with demolition because real estate on the Strip is so valuable. To save the structure, it was moved to the Neon Boneyard site. While preservationists are all for saving buildings, many in the field disapprove of moving structures, arguing they are not the same “place” once their setting changes. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, I think we can all agree that La Concha’s new home next to the Neon Boneyard was a major preservation win for Las Vegas.

Historic Macon Consulting in the “City by the Sea”

Historic Macon’s consulting department had the opportunity to spend a week in Brunswick the “City by the Sea” at the end of January assisting on a National Register of Historic Places update of their Old Town Historic District. Many towns in Georgia have National Register historic districts; these are historic areas that the federal government officially recognizes as “worthy of preservation” through their listing. Beyond this official recognition, the National Register is an important preservation tool, since being listed grants a property access to federal and state historic tax credits. Unfortunately, many districts in Georgia’s downtowns have not been updated since the 1970s and 80s, leaving decades of buildings that are fifty years old ineligible for preservation incentives and stalling the revitalization of historic town centers. This situation was the case in Brunswick’s Old Town Historic District. Our consultation enabled these newly qualifying, historic buildings to be added to the National Register. 


Brunswick Field Notes

by Caity Hungate

Mid-Century architecture is oftentimes overlooked and under appreciated. In fact, many consider Mid-Century buildings to be downright dreadful. I was among the many who felt this way. Fortunately, a trip to Brunswick, Georgia changed my mind. During that trip my colleague Kim Campbell and I drove or walked up and down every street in Brunswick’s Old Town Historic District. While many of the homes and businesses were built in the Victorian era or around the turn of the century, there were portions of the district that were developed during the 1950s-1960s. The modest Ranch houses stood out against the large Folk Victorian homes that surrounded them. At first I thought that these small and boxy houses lacked the complexity that was seen in the surrounding Victorian houses. Little did I know that Ranch houses are not only complex, but they vary in style. Eichleresque Ranches, for example, are long, angular, and feature exposed structural elements (similar to Craftsman style). Colonial Revival Ranches have many details that are similar to traditional Colonial Revival houses, such as columns, pediments, and decorative shutters. There are countless other styles and types of Ranch houses. Fortunately, I was able to learn about each one and gain a new appreciation for Mid-Century architecture. These houses and buildings are important. They represent an era in history— an era of transition and growth.

2017 Preservation Picks

Historic Macon Foundation has a far-reaching approach to preservation and revitalization in our community. Consequently, each member of our staff possesses a unique combination of background, skills, interests, and passions they bring to the preservation table. Get a glimpse into the minds of this all-star team with our first ever Preservation Picks. This collection of recommendations will give you plenty to read, watch, and listen to over the road trips and layovers of this holiday season!

The Bitter Southerner


"With articles ranging from haunted histories to food reviews, The Bitter Southerner does not disappoint. This website is rich with content and images from across all the Southern states. The Folklore Project in particular always pulls me in; it's the perfect Saturday indulgence."

Ethiel Garlington, Executive Director

99% Invisible


"If you're like me and really love obscure and fascinating stories about architecture, art, and design, then I highly recommend the podcast 99% Invisible. These short episodes are highly entertaining, and I promise you'll learn something new!" 

Top Recommendations: 

"The Architect of Hollywood" - featuring Paul Williams, the first African Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, who was instrumental in building iconic Golden Era of Hollywood buildings. 

"The Revolutionary Post" - follow along a timeline of the post office's fascinating history, and discover how the post office helped shape America. 

"The Great Restoration" - Stirling Castle's restoration of the Great Hall was highly controversial and shows a fundamental debate about historic preservation and restoration. 

Lauren Mauldin, Director of Revitalization

Oliver's Corner Bistro


"It's so exciting when something new opens downtown. Nothing compares to seeing historic buildings come to life with a new purpose. One of our latest additions, Oliver's Corner Bistro, just keeps calling me back. The food is fantastic, but it's the atmosphere that draws me in! It captures classy like no other."

Latachia Clay, Business Manager 

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries


"One of the issues we often run into in community revitalization and historic preservation is that many people find it hard to visualize what buildings, neighborhoods, and towns could be with some TLC. This show does an incredible job showing accurate, Victorian-era architecture, along with the bustling downtowns, and neighborhoods. The books by Kerry Greenwood are awesome, but the programme is so visually rich that it is perfect to demonstrate how much life we can bring back using historic structures." 

Kim Campbell, Director of Preservation Field Services 

Second Sunday Concert Series


"Photographer Jenna Eason perfectly captures the spirit of Second Sundays! This family friendly, monthly event does a lovely job of utilizing Macon's green space while also celebrating and preserving our rich musical heritage. Second Sundays are a wonderful way to engage the whole family in the beauty and culture of this town we love so much!" 

Trish Whitley, Director of Development

You Must Remember ThiS


"I love this podcast for so many reasons. It takes a closer look at some of my favorite entertainers from the 20th century. Longworth does her research; each episode contextualizes the life and art of its chosen subject, drawing connections I never realized before. For instance, did you know The Crucible by Arthur Miller was a parable for the Communist Red Scare? Me either. Listen to this episode to hear all about the events in history that inspired one of the most iconic plays to emerge from the 1950's."

Rachelle Wilson, Director of Engagement 

Haunted Houses: Preservation Help or Horror?

"This article talks about how 'haunted' houses benefit historic preservation. In the past haunted houses or houses that simply look haunted were considered to be a blight on the community. Now, with the rise of dark tourism, haunted houses have become more and more desirable. While some individuals like the spooky Adams Family/Norman Bates aesthetic, others genuinely love the history behind the house. These scary stories inspire individuals to not only purchase these once derelict homes, but to preserve them."

Caity Hungate, Education and Preservation Coordinator

Ocmulgee National Monument


"Macon has so much natural beauty that is well worth exploring and treasuring. The Ocmulgee National Monument is a great example of preserving and promoting one of our community's historic treasures. It's a great place to take the family but I also enjoy going alone to reflect and unwind. Whether you've never been or just haven't been in a while, put a visit on your calendar; you won't regret it."

Michael Phillips, Preservation Carpenter    


Custom Macon Maps


Historic Macon Foundation is all about celebrating the past and highlighting its relevance to the present. That is why we are proud to hang this modern depiction of our beloved city in our new downtown location! Artist Jennifer Beck of Modern Map Prints provides a bird's eye view of Macon in both black&white and orange. Feel free to stop by our offices at 338 Poplar Street to say hey and check out our orange map. If you want a modern Macon map of your own, use our link to purchase one. This allows you to celebrate your love of Macon in a modern way while also helping our foundation preserve the history that makes Macon the treasure that it is. 

Map B&W

Honoring the Sidney Lanier cottage

Built in 1840, the cottage located at 935 High Street in Macon, Georgia was the birthplace of poet, musician, and soldier, Sidney Lanier (1842-1881). Subsequently dubbed as the Sidney Lanier Cottage, this location has been home to Christmas celebrations, countless weddings and receptions, and Historic Macon Foundation's most recent office. During our transition this fall to a downtown location, HMF's staff reminisces on some of our favorite moments and memories in the quaint cottage that will forever have a place in our community and in our story as an organization.

First Impressions by Ethiel Garlington

  Snapped by Ethiel Garlington on his first visit to the cottage in 2014.

Snapped by Ethiel Garlington on his first visit to the cottage in 2014.

The Cottage will always have a special place in my heart.  When Michelle and I came to Macon in February 2014 for the interview weekend, the Cottage was the main venue.  Starting on Saturday afternoon with my presentation for the hiring committee in the double parlor to the reception with Trustees later that evening (complete with Bernard bartending from behind the Dutch door) - the Cottage was our introduction to Macon.  We were smitten.  

As the staff continued to grow over the next couple of years it was clear that the Cottage could no longer house our bustling organization.  As we begin our move to the new HMF headquarters on Poplar Street it's hard not to miss features of the Cottage.  I'm delighted that HMF continues to own and operate the Cottage.  I look forward to many more events and memories at the beloved Sidney Lanier Cottage.

Lifelong Friends by Trish Whitley

  The Barfield wedding reception in 1971.

The Barfield wedding reception in 1971.

Saying goodbye to the Cottage is definitely bitter-sweet. In 1971 my parent’s had their wedding reception at the Sidney Lanier Cottage. I attended summer day camps at the cottage in the 80s. As a young adult, fresh out of college, I promoted the Cottage as a tourist attraction in my job at the Convention & Visitors Bureau.  And now, I’ve spent the past three years upstairs in the Cottage with some of the best co-workers in middle Georgia, working to preserve Macon’s historic buildings and share the history of these places and their historic neighborhoods.

It’s been an exciting time for the staff of Historic Macon and an interesting, kind of quirky, time for the Cottage.  I’m sure the pioneers of the Middle Georgia Historical Society and Macon Heritage Foundation never imagined an upstairs full of computers, desks, filing cabinets, and so many people.  The work we’ve accomplished from the Cottage's second floor has been remarkable and we’ll continue that excellence – just a little further down the hill!

The Cottage Tour that was Stranger than Fiction by Kim Campbell

My favorite memory of the Sidney Lanier Cottage begins on a hot summer’s day in 2015. I was on site in the middle of doing field documentation, when I received a call from an unknown number with a foreign area code. Remembering our newest co-worker at the time is originally from South Georgia, I answered.

Upon saying hello, Lauren immediately launched into asking me if I could come back to the Cottage. I was quite frankly concerned something was seriously wrong based on her breathless demeanor. Lauren then said, “there’s this group of Germans here, and they want a tour. Emily’s trying to stall right now, but how soon can you be here?” That’s right, there was a group of Germans who showed up for a tour of the Sidney Lanier Cottage without warning, and there was no docent present to lead a tour. I hopped in the car and drove (faster than I will admit) back to the Cottage.

Sure enough when I flew through the back door there were 30 or so Germans and their translator waiting, not so patiently, for a tour while Emily told them facts about Sidney Lanier. Not wanting to keep the group waiting any longer, I immediately launched into my tour narrative. I had hardly finished welcoming the group before the translator/group leader said, “You must speak slower for me to translate.” While this request makes perfect sense, I already talk rather slowly. However, I did my best to do as the translator asked.

  The abnormally large rocking chair of the Sidney Lanier Cottage.

The abnormally large rocking chair of the Sidney Lanier Cottage.

The tour proceeded as my Cottage tours generally do, with the exception of the fact that I continually had to speak in smaller and smaller increments until it really felt like a sit-com. “This. . . portrait. . . is of. . . Mary. . . Day. . . Lanier. . .” After taking about twice as long as we usually do, we finally made it to the last room and time for questions. One gentleman asked me about the unusual size of the rocking chair in the room. When I had finished answering, the man looks at me and says in English, “You know, her translation of what you’re saying is totally wrong. She even used the wrong word for ‘rocking chair’!”

You may be asking why this seemingly wasted tour with what turned out to be a German Alcoholics Anonymous groups is my favorite memory of the Sidney Lanier Cottage. The answer is simple. Although I think only four or five people understood what I was saying that day, it was absolutely worth the time and effort to share this place with those few people. Some truths are stranger than fiction and always worthwhile to share; the stories of the Sidney Lanier Cottage, not to mention this particular tour, certainly fit that category.

Besides, how many people can say they’ve given a random group of Germans a tour of the Cottage?

  Taken by Rachelle during her and Caity's first porch party.

Taken by Rachelle during her and Caity's first porch party.

A Haiku by Rachelle Wilson

Rocking chairs in front

Cars and donations behind

Family inside


Short and Sweet by Caity Hungate

The Sidney Lanier Cottage will always be dear to me. While we've only been acquainted a short time, I made several cherished memories. I will always remember being greeted by Sidney the cat each morning. I will never forget the time that I found a stray turtle walking down the driveway. I am fortunate that future education events, like Sidney Salons, will bring me back to the Cottage on a regular basis.

Captivating by Latachia Clay

When I think about the Sidney Lanier cottage, what comes to mind is my first encounter with Sidney’s black and white guard cat. I was absolutely terrified when I arrived on my first day and found him sitting at the door, looking at me as if I was an uninvited guest. I was so terrified of the cat that I spent many mornings thereafter sitting frozen in my car in the back parking lot that I could barely navigate myself out of when it was time to leave. I guess it came as no surprise to my co-workers that I became acquainted with the on street parking in front of the beautiful Sidney Lanier cottage with the white rockers.

What captured my attention inside of the Sidney Lanier cottage, aside from the over-sided rocking chair that read Sidney’s chair, was the mirror in the double parlor. I just love the mirror and have spent many days passing by it purposely. It is truly hard to single out one memory about the cottage. I have had encounters with Sidney himself, indirectly of course. Days when I would be left alone that I constantly yelled, “is anybody there?” The wonderful moments spent on the front porch with my fabulous co-workers as we discussed everything from how the week went to plans for the weekend. Despite any fears I initially had, I have to say that I grew to love all of them.

After spending almost three years at the cottage, it has been like a second home. Even though our new location was needed to fit our growing needs, there will always be a special place in my heart for the Sidney Lanier Cottage, and I believe a part of my spirit, like Sidney’s spirit, will always remain there.

Memories by Sabrinna Cox

  The unique, memorable wallpaper of the cottage's entryway. 

The unique, memorable wallpaper of the cottage's entryway. 

What comes to mind when I think about the Sidney Lanier Cottage are Fridays on the porch in rocking chairs with co-workers; encounters with the Cottage ghost waiting for laundry to dry; the hazing delivered by the Education Committee my first week on the job (I totally believed there were going to be bouquets of bacon); the Cottage cat, Sidney, greeting me in the garden to ask for breakfast; the loose spindle that helped me up and down the stairs after a sprained ankle; the sound of squirrels in the walls; the post-event gossip in the kitchen.  All those moments come to mind but what is seared on my visual memory is the asymmetrical, yellow wallpaper with rows of diamonds and sprays of foliage that greets you when you walk through the front door!

Gratitude by Lauren Mauldin 

The Sidney Lanier Cottage has seen a lot throughout its 160+ years – births, celebrations, history, and lately, the home of Historic Macon Foundation. Not only has the Cottage witnessed a lot, but in a few short years, it’s seen this organization grow into a national leading preservation organization. The Cottage was our home when we received a $3 million investment from Knight Foundation, continued neighborhood revitalization efforts in Beall’s Hill, introduced Macon’s Fading Five, created Historic Macon’s Music Registry Plaque Program, and expanded to include 10 incredibly talented staff (just to name a few accomplishments). The Cottage was home to the organizations responsible for the preservation of Middle Georgia’s history and heritage, and its legacy will continue for years to come. As we transition into our new home on Poplar Street, I can’t help but be thankful for what the Cottage represents – our past achievements and growth – and am excited to see how the new office represents our ongoing success and continued growth. 

Thank you for joining us in honoring the Sidney Lanier Cottage. We'd love to hear your favorite memories of the cottage in the comments below!