Happy New Year! Looking back through 2017, we saw some amazing Old Homes in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi! This would have published earlier but I’ve been recovering from the Rose Bowl – what a game. Go Dawgs! Getting to just 10 homes is difficult – would rather use a top 100 but figured that post would be way too long LOL. These are in no particular order!
Macon – Bibb County – Time to visit more great antebellum homes in Macon, including a couple that are always open to the public for tours! This week we will see more white columns, a mansion that could not be given away, find out about a secret room, and a house hit by a cannonball. If you missed last week’s houses, you can see them here:
The Cowles-Bond House below has many stories. Over the years, this hilltop home has been home to several prominent families, served as a private school for nearly 20 years, was owned by Mercer University, then the city of Macon, then Mercer again…
The house has a commanding view of the surrounding area, and was seized when Macon was occupied in 1865. Henrietta Bond, a widow, was told her house was being seized. She advised she was putting her valuables in the dining room closet, and expected them to be there when she returned! According to the family, her valuables were still there.
This Macon antebellum mansion could not even be given away!
During the 20th century, the last owners tried to give the house away – but no takers, imagine the upkeep on this mansion. In 1960, it became Stratford Academy, a private school. In 1978, Mercer acquired it and deed it to the City of Macon. In a nutshell the city couldn’t afford the restoration of this mansion and gave it back to Mercer. The Woodruff Foundation stepped in and it was restored to its former glory.
The Judge Asa Holt built this house in 1853, and it’s better known as the Cannonball House. Best of all, it is a house museum. You can check out their site here. I got a SENIOR DISCOUNT when I toured the house (hey, it saved me $2 so I am good with it!). It is well worth a tour if you are in Macon. Now how did it get its name? A cannonball was fired in 1864 and ricocheted off the second column, through the front parlor – and landed in the hallway. It never exploded!
Entry hall of Cannonball House – that is one huge mirror, nearly to the top of the 12 foot ceilings. The 1850 Weber Square grand piano was donated by the Old Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville. The last family descendent made an apartment upstairs, and the downstairs was used for functions. She stayed in her upstairs apartment, and would lower a key to the house in a wicker basket for people to come in!
One of the parlors in the house below gives you an idea of how grand this home is.
The mansion below was known for many decades as “Bonnybrae”, and it has many names associated with it over the years. Prominent architect Neel Reid created a huge addition to the home, including a ballroom with 20 ft high arched ceilings. Over the years it was converted to apartments, served as a clinic, and then back to a single family home. It was sold to a family from North Macon and they are in the midst of the massive renovation of this showplace! Can’t wait to see this when it is finished.
Macon’s “Bonnybrae” has 18 columns, 22 fireplaces, and 32 rooms
Neel Reid lived in this home during the years he lived in Macon. This house was built for Dr. Richard Randolph, one of the pioneers of Macon (remember, Macon was established in 1821). Inside this home are double pocket doors that open up to a total of 12 feet wide. This hilltop beauty was built for entertaining!
The North-Tinsley house below did not want to be photographed – but even from what we can see, this is one beautiful Mississippi Delta-Style home. Neel Reid did renovations to this house as well. I would love to see this one inside, with its 14 foot ceilings.
Now this antebellum home, built between 1855-1859 has been called the palace of the south. I took this picture a while back when I toured the house. Operated by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, it is open for tours. You can find all the details here. They offer a behind the scenes tour, and you get to see every bit of this mansion – all the way to the very top! Secret room here? There is an alcove on the landing of the stairs that opens to a hidden linen closet. Many stories about this room, gold being hidden here, etc. If you get a chance, it really is a great tour.
The original owner of the Beall-Jordan-Dunlap house wouldn’t recognize it today. Originally built in the Italianate style, it was renovated in the early 1900s to the current trend of Classic Revival. The 18 columns were added at that time. There are 15 fireplaces in this mansion. I couldn’t figure out why there weren’t windows on the right side of the house? Turns out there is a huge staircase against that wall inside. Over the years this house became a boarding house, tea room, then a restaurant, then restored….lots of changes to this home!
Often times people think of antebellum homes and picture Greek Revival homes with white columns. There were many of those, but also the Italianate style was becoming popular during this time as well – the arched windows and porches on this 1860 home are trademark Italianate style. And – the Allman Brothers first album cover was photographed here.
Finally we are looking at Sylvan Lodge. built around 1841. This home, like one we looked at last week, originally faced Vineville Avenue. With a new street in the early 1900s running alongside the house, the owner wanted the house to face it…but you can’t just pick up and move a brick and stucco home. The Small-Napier mansion across the street was turned to face the street. Here they created the front entrance on what had been the side of the house. The columns are said to have been moved from the original front of the house.
Thanks so much for taking this trip to see a few more antebellum homes in Macon. I really appreciate you reading the blog!
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.
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.
Found this picture from the 1930s that shows the amazing staircase in the Raines-Miller-Carmichael House. Wow!
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.
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.
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
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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, GA – Have I got a house for you! It’s huge, it has a secret room, missing gold, and numerous people say it’s haunted. Thought we’d head to Middle Georgia and go check out the Hay House, another property run by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. We are going on their behind the scenes tour that is offered once a month, which ends waaay up on top of the house outside that cupola. This one took 5 years to build, and is considered Italian Renaissance Style. Not your normal white columned mansion. Believe me this is one big old mansion, with around 24 rooms and it’s a total of 3 stories! Yes, really! And this house has a secret room too.
And high tech (for it’s day) – they had a very early form of central heating, a 20,000 gallon water tank in the attic that had spring water pumped into it. That means running water! In the 1850s! And let me tell you, it’s one opulent house too.
Of course it’s an unusual design for Georgia, especially at that time. Turns out the original owners of the house, William and Ann Tracy Johnston had just returned from their honeymoon in Italy in the 1850s. I’m sure however they got to Italy was more comfortable than economy seats on Delta, huh? He was in several different businesses, banking and manufacturing – then during the Civil War he was in charge of the gold depository here. It had over $15 million in gold at one point (wonder if it was in that hidden room?)
You get an idea how big this place walking up to the massive front doors. They’re several inches thick and weigh over 500 lbs each – yet they are effortless to open and close. Things aren’t built like that these days!
Luckily it was a beautiful morning when I toured this place. You get an idea of how big it is with the side view. The large stained glass window in the center is in the dining room.
So the dining room – check out that stained glass huh? It’s an enormous room, as you can tell. What surprised me in here? The rug! It’s not a rug! It’s a painted cloth. I haven’t seen that anywhere else that I’ve toured. That Eastlake dining table with 14 chairs? It’s original to the house.
The music room is 50 feet long as was recently restored. The ceiling is 30 feet high in here. Very opulent. The only thing I could relate to were the white floor fans.
Heading up the stairs another great stained glass window…and we’re really close to the secret room too! So, this thing about folks saying it’s haunted. First, really glad I didn’t read up on that until AFTER I went to the house. People say they’ve seen an elderly lady in 1800s nightclothes roaming the hallways, felt cool spots in the house, and felt something breathing on their shoulder. Had I experienced any of these, I promise y’all I would’ve run like the wind right out of this place!
Here’s where I can appreciate this is a house under restoration. Once you get upstairs you can tell there’s still much more work to be done. The bedrooms are nice enough, but a stark contrast from the fully restored first floor. I think they have spent over $8 Million restoring this house so far.
So of course I was not really thinking much about going up to the octagonal cupola. Looking down the winding staircase up there I started thinking “hey this is pretty high up here!”
But once you get to the top and walk around outside, you are treated to phenomenal views of Macon!!! Great panorama of the city.
If you happen to be anywhere near Macon, this is a really interesting tour! And an unusual style of home for the antebellum south.
Thanks so much for coming along to see the Hay House, I appreciate it!