Macon, Georgia: Antebellum Homes for the Cost of a Mint Julep

In Going Home, the faces behind CIRCA share our personal stories of the old houses and historic places that have shaped our lives. Today Chelcey takes us on a tour of the beautiful (and cheap, cheap, cheap!) old houses for sale in her hometown of Macon, Georgia. (Photo above shows the Woodruff House on the Mercer Campus College and is by Lamar.)
 
When one thinks of the old South, one envisions streets teeming with plantation-style homes and all the elegance of a lost time. My charming little hometown of Macon, Georgia, has all of that and then some. As a child who grew up in a subdivision located in a neighborhood where every other house looked exactly the same, I remember being in complete awe when we would go to the historic city on the weekends. I eventually moved to Macon for college and lived downtown, smack-dab in the thick of the city’s historic housing stock. And what a stock it is! If you act fast, you can snag an Antebellum home there for a song.
 

 
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St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in downtown Macon. Photo courtesy of the InTown Macon Neighborhood Association.

 
Snapshot of Macon’s history: Settled in 1822, cotton manufacturing was the driving force behind Macon’s economy. Centrally located between Atlanta and Savannah, Macon is also conveniently next to the Ocmulgee River, which meant easy access to steamboats, stagecoaches, and eventually trains. The town was a major thoroughfare and known as the ‘Heart of the South.’
 
 
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One of the many beautiful homes along majestic College Street.

 
Much like my current home of Brooklyn, today Macon retains a large historic downtown. Its numerous main streets are all built of brick. (I’m convinced it’s where the art of brick corbelling was unofficially mastered). It has a musical history that’s still palpable, home to Otis Redding, Allman Brothers Band, Little Richard, and the founding members of REM, to name just a few. Macon is walkable and bike-friendly. There are three schools of higher education, parks everywhere, delicious eateries and a bar for every type, with my personal favorite being the Humming Bird. Its proximity to Atlanta (at just over 90 minutes away) makes it very attractive to commuters.
 
The biggest difference between Macon and Brooklyn? Well, for one, Macon is AFFORDABLE! Though, the housing prices are steadily increasing, so act fast.
 
Ahem, we don’t have buildings like this in Brooklyn:
 
 
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The Swoon-worthy Johnston-Felton-Hay House. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

 
… or this:
 
 
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Villa Albicini

 
Each time I visit Macon, I hear more and more about the amazing revitalization happening downtown. I’ve kicked myself before for not scooping up a couple of mansions each time I’m there. If a big ol’ mansion is not your cup of sweet tea, then hold on to your Warby Parkers: Lofts, lofts, and more lofts – am I speaking your language yet? Many of these beautiful spaces once played a role in success of the city’s cotton manufacturing industry — think massive old wooden beams securing heart pine ceilings.
 
 
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The Sterchi Lofts on Cherry Street. Photo courtesy of Live Downtown Macon.

 
We’ve all heard the story before: Historic urban centers suffered from post-war, post-industrial decline. Suburbanization and the “mallification” of America pushed out mom-and-pop shops, leaving behind a slew of neglected industrial buildings and storefronts in our country’s cities. Fortunately for Macon, the city is experiencing a period of reinvestment; people and businesses are moving back downtown. As a self-proclaimed history nerd obsessed with 19th-century architecture, I get very inspired when I think about Macon’s future.
 
There are even efforts to attract more ‘makers’ downtown. (Hey Etsy, new southeast headquarters?) Groups like NewTown Macon, College Hill Alliance and Historic Macon have made it their mission to restore and reinvigorate downtown. National companies like Benjamin Moore are also getting involved, giving Second Street a new paint job under their “Main Street Matters” competition.
 
As an historic preservationist and a former resident of Macon, my hat goes off to those organizations fighting to make the city a more attractive, livable place. While I gawk from afar at cheap real estate listings galore (see below for more of that) I am proud to toot Macon’s horn and advocate for you to check it out. Thank me later for all the eye candy below, in the form of a crisp mint julep served from your so-very Southern wrap-around porch. You can click the top photo of each listing to be taking to the listing site.
 
 

2082 Vineville Avenue, $198,499

 
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1073 Georgia Avenue, $275,000

 
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3007 Ridge Avenue, $99,900

 
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165 Cleveland Avenue, $79,500

 
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2327 Clayton Street, $76,900

 
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123/127 Cleveland Ave, $72,500

 
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167 Pierce Avenue, $54,900

 
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1012 Tattnall Street, $52,000

 
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134 Rogers Avenue, $44,900

 
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144 Culver Street, $39,900

 
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2525 English Avenue, $31,900

 
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119 Hines Terrace, $409,000

 
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1275 Linden Avenue, $250,000

 
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969 Nottingham Drive, $259,900

 
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758 Orange Terrace, $129,900

 
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423 Spring Street, $279,500

 
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1035 Oglethorpe Street, $99,900

 
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2448 Clayton Street, $298,000

 
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381 College Street, $309,000

 
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808 College Street, $109,900

 
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424 Orange Street, $219,500

 
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416 Orange Street, $214,900

 
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340 College St, $725,000

 
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1088 Magnolia Street, $199,900

 
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303 College Street, $495,000

 
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206 Buford Place, $198,000

 
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1464 Twin Pines Drive, $689,000

 
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2353 Vineville Avenue, $159,500

 
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3438 Ridge Avenue, $154,175

 
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158 Euclid Ave, $149,900

 
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116 Stonewall Place, $144,500

 
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136 Cleveland Avenue, $139,900

 
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132 Alabama Avenue, $133,900

 
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206 Albermarle Place, $329,000

 
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979 Highland Terrace, $119,000

 
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590 Wimbish Road, $109,500

 
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147 Forest Avenue, $90,000

 
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Chelcey-photoAUTHOR CHELCEY BERRYHILL

Chelcey’s passion for old houses sparked from growing up in Georgia, surrounded by antebellum homes constructed of the local heart pine. Now, while working professionally to preserve the beautiful character of New York’s Upper West Side, Chelcey co-authors the website The Wooden House Project, a community for owners and fans of Brooklyn’s underappreciated but very lovable wood-framed row houses.

 
 



  • Donna Walters

    Chelcey,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your article. Thank you for loving our home, Macon, GA. It is the best place to live. I love it.
    Donna Walters

  • Phyllis Martin Farmer

    Fabulous show of what Macon is about. Thank you for showing us off. You have done us a grand service because we have something special in Macon, Ga!!!!

  • Joanna Floyd Jones

    Chelcey! Thank you for your amazing article and for showing these fantastic homes in our hometown Macon,Georgia. I’ve been in just about all of them and just like you cherish their beauty! The prices are unreal!
    You did a terrific job and made us proud!!
    Many thanks and come home soon!
    JoJo Jones
    #BeatTheHouse @HGTV

    • ckberryhill

      JoJo, thank you for the kind words. It makes me so happy to read your comment, AND Mary, Toni, Phyllis, and Donna’s! Macon is a wonderful place and such an important piece of Georgia’s history. We’re so lucky to have all of those amazing homes still standing and so fortunate that there is a dedicated community to preserving them. I hope to meet you all when I’m back down there. In the meantime, please keep doing what you’re doing to promote this beautiful city!

  • Toni Murphey

    Thank you so much for this. The photography is outstanding ………..I love the old Homes and wish I could buy every one of them and keep them up for all the world to see. I loved looking into the past and wondering how life was in each one. The character of these old house is to be treasured for all the painstaking effort it took to design and build such functional as well as beautiful structures. I love that they always made “function” beautiful. So many memories look like they are still alive within these walls…….dancing when “no body is looking” …….Thanks for developing this and make it available to us ..here in Macon ………and to others to enjoy!

  • Mary Virginia Gage

    Thank you for doing such a wonderful piece on Macon. I have just moved back to my home town and am working with the Historical Society renovating a home on Cleveland Ave. I was happy to see 3 of the homes on our street featured in your article! I am so proud of what Macon is doing to preserve the history here and glad that I can be a part of it. Thank you for sharing our little piece of heaven with the rest of the world.

  • http://stangunter.com stan gunter

    I got a Gopro and ride my bike around town doing videos of old homes in macon and post them on youtube. I’m getting better as time goes on. Have seen all the homes on your site and your photography is good. One thing I have noticed is that the wood frame homes require a lot of upkeep and people seem to work on them all the time. I prefer brick or stucco.

    Stan Gunter

  • Wayne Jenkins

    Macon is my hometown too, although I’ve been away for decades. The homes you pictured, plus many more, were daily fare as I rode my bike or traveled with my family. Macon’s architecture, and horticultural beauty at that time, profoundly influenced me. Thanks for taking and posting the photos.
    Wayne

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