Macon – Antebellum Homes – Part 1

Macon – Bibb County – Spending a day in Macon was not nearly enough time to look at all the beautiful old homes around the city.  This week we will look at antebellum homes, so get ready to see lots of white columns, hear about Doris Duke, and a room full of hats!

First up is one of the oldest houses in the area.  The McLeod-Melrose House was built in 1802 or 1815, depending on who you ask.  It is older than Macon itself.  The lower floor of this house once was an Indian trading post, and the walls were 2 feet thick for protection against an Indian attack.  The house grew into this mansion over the years as the upper floor was added.This beautiful home once had a 2 mile long driveway to the Ocmulgee River.  Over its 200 year existence, this house has been a home, a hospital, and a jail…and back to a family home.

Antebellum Macon
McLeod-Melrose House, circa 1802-1815

The circa 1848 Raines-Miller-Carmichael House was almost demolished in 1940 to build a gas station!  Glad that didn’t happen to this unique house.  The house is basically built in the shape of a Greek cross, with 4 rooms off of an octagonal central hallway.  Having 3 sides exposed means better ventilation in those rooms, and bet that helped in the days before air conditioning.  Kitty Carmichael Oliver was a teenager when her father bought this house in 1942 – then she and her husband were caretakers of this home for many years.

Raines-Miller-Carmichael House, circa 1848

Found this picture from the 1930s that shows the amazing staircase in the Raines-Miller-Carmichael House.  Wow!

Stairwell of Raines-Miller-Carmichael House

The Greek Revival Mansion below dates to 1843 and was built for Judge James Nisbet.  He was a member of the Board of Education and president of the gas light company in town.  He lived here until 1851, when he sold it to the Huguenin family.  Lila Huguenin’s name is etched into one of the dining room windows!  The laurel wreath design along the top is uncommon  – I noticed it on several other Macon homes have them.  Did some digging and it turns out this is the identifying mark of the architect, Elias Carter.

Built around 1843 – the Moultrie-Nisbet-Huguenin House

Every old house has a story – and the Holt-Peeler House below has a story of Doris Duke, who was known as the “world’s richest little girl” upon her birth in 1912.  This house was built in the 1840s for Judge Thaddeus Goode Holt.  His granddaughter, Nanaline Holt, grew up here.

Nanaline Holt, mother of Doris Duke, grew up here

Her mother, Nanaline Holt (1870-1962), was a celebrated beauty who grew up in this house.  At that time, the family was not as well off as it once been…in 1907 the young widow married James Duke.  Talk about amazing wealth – they had several homes including a 49 room “cottage” at Newport, Rhode Island.

Nanaline Holt Inman Duke was on the cover of Time Magazine in 1931

1931 Time Magazine (found the picture on eBay)
Nanaline Holt Inman Duke Portrait
Holt-Peeler House in 1936. Library of Congress, HABS.

The columns on the side of the house were added on at a later date.  Nanaline was the last generation of Holts to live in the home, it was sold to the Peeler family.  By the 1950s, Mrs. Peeler had one of the big upstairs bedrooms solely for hats.  Hats were her hobby, and they got their own room!

Side View Holt-Peeler House (and a flamingo too!)

Macon has been called “The Heart of Georgia”

The colorful Victorian cottage below is older than it looks.  It was built around 1854, and the Victorian additions to the home were done in the 1870s.  This one gets your attention with the great use of color!

Willingham-Hill Cottage, circa 1858

The 1846 Napier-Small mansion below has only had 3 families in it in its 170 years.  At over 6,000 square feet, it is huge with 20 X 20 main rooms.  Originally, the house had 325 acres and faced Vineville Avenue, with a long cedar lined drive to the house.  In the early 1900s, a new street was run through, the house was put on logs and a mule team turned it 90 degrees to face the new street!

The 1846 Napier-Small Mansion

This home has enormous proportions.  The downstairs hallway is 12 X 40 feet.  Even better, it is for sale – just waiting for a new family to fill this house.

Entrance Hall, Napier-Small Mansion

There are some enormous mirrors in the house and equally large chandeliers.  The picture below gives you an idea of how large this place is.

Dining Room

Now the Rock Rogers House below is notable for its double front doors.  He brought these all the way from Connecticut – first to the coast at Darien, Georgia – then all the way up the Ocmulgee River by steamboat to Macon.

The 1840 Rock Rogers Hous

The Gresham Mansion below stopped me in my tracks.  John Gresham built this house in 1842 and lived in it until 1900.  He had quite the life – Mayor of Macon, an attorney, a judge, started up a mill, and a cotton merchant! The house was modified into apartments in 1930, and nearly demolished in the early 1980s before a group saved the home.  It is now a B&B/Inn, you can see more of it here.

Gresham Mansion, circa 1842

More of Macon in my next post.  Thanks so much for reading the blog, I sure do appreciate it!  The second part of the tour is here:

Macon Antebellum Homes – Part 2

Thanks again!

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