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! 

9 (More) Reasons to be a Flea Market Volunteer

It's time once again to prepare for Historic Macon's annual Flea Market. The Flea Market is Historic Macon's largest fundraiser of the year and brings in over $40,000 in funds each year. This is made possible through our generous and hard-working volunteers. They clean, sort, price, and pick-up inventory for months prior to the Flea Market.

There are many reasons to be a Flea Market volunteer. Read on for nine good reasons or check out a post from last year for more.

1. Family bonding time.


The Flea Market is a family affair for many of our volunteers. Mothers and daughters, sons and fathers, sisters and brothers -all these folks volunteer at the Flea Market. They have the opportunity to form that extra special bond over uncovering weird donations and picking up heavy furniture during pick-ups.

2. You think you don’t need anything else, but you’ll find some really special items you can’t live without (bonus: you can purchase said items during the volunteer pre-sale and luncheon on Friday, November 4).

Just ask one of our dedicated volunteers. They sort through boxes and boxes of donated items every year, wondering how anyone could have so much stuff. But our donations are pretty great so it's hard to resist taking at least something home.

3. Flea Market friends are lifelong friends.


The act of sorting through donations and working the Flea Market creates interesting conversations and bonding moments, resulting in lifelong friendships. Our volunteers see each other every year during workdays and the sale, strengthening their bond one Flea Market at a time. 

4. You might see some really cute babies....

5. .....and Santa!


He's always watching. So you better be nice.

6. You’ll burn a few calories working in our new location


That's right, the Flea Market has a new home at 357 Oglethorpe Street. The 10,000 square foot warehouse is filling quickly with donations and this year's sale will be better than ever!

7. And you can treat yourself to a locally made brew after you burned those calories at the Macon Beer Company.

Photo by Jess Miller, via

Photo by Jess Miller, via

Our new location comes with the added bonus of great new neighbors, including the Macon Beer Company and the Macon Water Authority. Which will make for fun Saturday workdays and a great Preview Party.

8. Those green aprons though....


Yes, you get to wear one of the coveted green aprons. Which means you have some authority on the day of the sale. And it looks good on everyone. Especially after you’ve burned those calories during the work days. Right?

9. At the end of the day you can kick your feet up and know you made a difference.

93¢ of every dollar spent at the Flea Market does right back to Historic Macon. Those funds allow us to do what we do best: revitalize our community by preserving architecture and sharing history.

It's easy to volunteer.

If you're convinced that working at Historic Macon's Flea Market is one of the best volunteer gigs in Macon, we'd love to have you on board. Start by coming to weekly workdays on Wednesdays and Fridays of every week from 8am to 11am.

If those times don't work for you, sign up to work during the Flea Market November 3-5, 2017.

Have questions? Want to be added to the Flea Market volunteer email list? Email Rachelle Wilson at or call 478-742-5084.

Watson Brown Foundation Junior Board Awards Historic Macon $10,000 Grant


On Tuesday, August 9, two chipper youths and their advisor arrived to the Sidney Lanier Cottage with a large check in tow from the Watson-Brown Foundation. The Watson-Brown Foundation Junior Board of Trustees awarded Historic Macon a $10,000 grant to help fund the listing of Napier Heights as a district in the National Register of Historic Places.

Historic Macon applied for the grant from the Watson-Brown Foundation in March of 2016 to list the area commonly known as Napier Heights in the National Register. Napier Heights is roughly bounded by Interstate 75, Montpelier Avenue, Pio Nono Avenue, and Roff Avenue, though the exact boundaries of a National Register district are determined after research is complete. The area's wonderful building stock and the neighborhood’s excellent location between Mercer University, the Vineville Historic District, and the Cherokee Heights Historic District make it an excellent candidate not only for National Register listing, but also for revitalization.

Historic Macon staffers took the Junior Board of Trustees on a tour of the proposed district in early spring. The trustees asked many questions about the project and were intrigued by Historic Macon's commitment to revitalizing our community through historic preservation. The trustees saw the merit in listing Napier Heights as a historic district and awarded Historic Macon with $10,000 to get the job done.

Historic Macon will use the funds to conduct the extensive research required for the district proposal. The listing of the economically depressed neighborhood of Napier Heights in the National Register of Historic Places allows Historic Macon to employ its proven block-by-block, street-by-street revitalization approach to the neighborhood. Historic Macon anticipates a time in the near future when our neighborhood revitalization work in the Beall's Hill neighborhood will be complete. Napier Heights is be the ideal area to extend Historic Macon's nationally recognized real estate and preservation tactics, creating a more vibrant neighborhood for long-term residents. 

Historic Macon appreciates the recognition and trust of the Watson Brown Foundation Junior Board of Trustees in this project. Continue to follow our blog for updates on the Napier Heights listing and our many other projects.

Summer Intern Perspective -Sara Doll

Elaine and I sharing a moment of accomplishment.

Elaine and I sharing a moment of accomplishment.

#MaconisPreservation at my shotgun

#MaconisPreservation at my shotgun

My summer spent working in Macon turned out to be quite different than what I expected. I went to Macon with the idea that I was getting away from Missouri to partake in an internship over the not-so-thrilling topic of tax credits. Little did I know what awaited me. My spring 2016 school semester was my first introduction to historic tax credits, and what I gathered was they were complicated and pretty boring. However, right from the start Historic Macon Foundation (HMF) showed the potential of utilizing tax credits to help improve the city through historic districts. I never imagined the outstanding improvements possible through historic tax credits without experiencing it on a larger scale. It was not an experience you can get in the classroom.

Preservation is a team effort. Not only did I witness first-hand the importance of communication between the staff at Historic Macon Foundation, but also with their clients, members, volunteers, and fellow preservation foundations, just to name a few. All of these groups were factors in making sure each project or event ran smoothly. It’s always stressed in grad school that you should be a team player in preservation, but until you see it in action the concept is often taken for granted. I knew communication was important coming into my internship, but seeing the benefits of working together to make something happen really showed me the power of collaboration.

Tax credits are only a small part of historic preservation. Without communication between the individuals involved in each scenario, it would be impossible to achieve goals.  Even though tax credits can be daunting, the finished projects are always incredible and well-worth the process it takes to make them happen.

Summer Intern Perspective -Elaine Sullivan

A corner of the potential Historic District we surveyed.

A corner of the potential Historic District we surveyed.

My time at Historic Macon Foundation has been filled with many different learning opportunities and experiences. There were historic tax credits, a National Register district survey, easements, and various field trips to name a few. Most of all, I was given to opportunity to see how effective HMF is at preservation and revitalization throughout the area. I was initially drawn to Historic Macon Foundation because of how active it seemed to be within the preservation scene locally. The idea of revitalizing the community with the goal of encouraging renewed and diverse neighborhoods was something that I was most excited about and hoped to be a part of.

One of the little glimpses into Macon’s history and revitalization I was given the opportunity to experience was in the form of a biking tour brochure. The whole concept was based on bringing attention to the Industrial District and the history it had to offer.

In honor of my Railroad Depot research, here's the engine at the entrance to Central City Park.

In honor of my Railroad Depot research, here's the engine at the entrance to Central City Park.

For this project, a particular topic I took an interest in involved the vast amount of railways and depots that were once a part of the area and how it shaped the landscape. Since the railroads are an integral part of Macon’s history, I enjoyed learning the history behind all of the rail lines and depot locations. Observing how the commerce of the area worked hand in hand with the railroads to become the backbone of Macon’s economy made me excited for what the future of preservation and revitalization of the Industrial District has to hold.

If I’ve learned anything at HMF, it's the power of taking an opportunity to intentionally hone your effort to research and preserve history. A little encouragement and knowledge goes a long way.

The City Directories, aka the only books I looked at in the library.

The City Directories, aka the only books I looked at in the library.

Mill Hill: The Art of Revitalizing a Neighborhood

Michael Phillips, Historic Macon's Preservation Carpenter, prepares for work in  Mill Hill

Michael Phillips, Historic Macon's Preservation Carpenter, prepares for work in Mill Hill

For the first time in our 52 year history, we are working simultaneously in two (three, if you count Downtown), neighborhoods. Our experience taught us that focusing on neighborhoods block by block, street by street, house by house bears the most impact on revitalization. We’ve seen this success in Hugenin Heights, Tattnall Square Heights, and now Beall’s Hill. That being said, when opportunities present themselves to do more good, we’re always interested.  

In 2012 I spoke on a panel at a statewide preservation conference in Kentucky. One of the other panelists spoke about how Paducah, KY had married arts and neighborhood revitalization with splendid results. That session always stuck with me knowing that artists have pushed the boundaries of revitalization in cities across the country.

Last year, a contingent of Maconites visited Bradenton, Florida. From that visit, the Mill Hill Arts Village was first conceived. Since 1999 Bradenton’s Village of the Arts (VOTA) has been wildly successful by creating a thriving community of residents and businesses that support a creative spirit. True to Macon’s entrepreneurial spirit, the delegation quickly set to work creating a similar arts endeavor in our community.

As with all successful ventures, Mill Hill: East Macon Arts Village is a partnership. HMF was invited to participate to develop the housing portion of Mill Hill. Our organization will do what we do best –fix up dilapidated houses and bring back vibrancy to the area. Thankfully we’ve been able to hire an additional staff member, Michael Philips, who is overseeing our work in the neighborhood. Sabrinna Cox has also joined our staff as the new Preservation Designer. Under the leadership and direction of the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and the Macon Arts Alliance we are bound to succeed.  

I hope this isn’t the first time you’ve heard about Mill Hill. This may be the first you’ve heard about HMF’s involvement, but you’ll hear more as construction continues in earnest this summer. We anticipate completing the first phase of three houses by the end of April and will host a walking tour in May for National Preservation Month.  

Needless to say, it’s thrilling for HMF to be working in concert with the Macon Arts Alliance and the UDA on a new endeavor in East Macon. More importantly, we’re excited to demonstrate a new approach to neighborhood revitalization, one that capitalizes on creativity. The East Macon Arts Village is one more example of how successful we can be as a community, when organizations collaborate.