A rich history of Macon’s architecture.

The Johnston Felton Hay House


Macon is thought to have evolved from an outpost built by English traders taking an Indian path that followed the Fall Line from inside what is now Alabama to the Savannah River near Augusta.

In 1806, Fort Hawkins was built on a hill overlooking the Ocmulgee Fields but fortunately never had to be used to defend the settlers from an Indian attack before or during the War of 1812.

A community known as Newtown sprang up around the fort. Eager pioneers arrived regularly from the Carolinas, Virginia, New England and elsewhere to settle along the Ocmulgee River.

On December 9, 1822, the county of Bibb was created by the Georgia General Assembly. The new county’s commissioners were instructed to found a town, “Macon,” to be named after an illustrious North Carolina statesman. The new town was laid out on the flat land on the western side of the river. Streets paralleling the river bore the names of trees, such as Cherry, Mulberry and Walnut. All of the thoroughfares were to be broad, alternatively 180 feet and 120 feet wide. Large squares at the intersections and alleys would divide them. Parks and trees were included in the plan.

Macon began to expand its boundaries northward along the continuation of Mulberry Street to a spot that would later be called Georgia Avenue. The higher elevations of the plateau above the river valley were attractive to families looking for sites that could catch the cooling river breezes. In 1839, the Georgia Female College (later Wesleyan), designed by master builder Elam Alexander, was built on the site called “Encampment Hill.” This area became known as College Hill, an important cultural and social center for the town. Alexander also designed what is today referred to as Woodruff House, one of the stops on this tour.

Photo by Chris Smith

River trade dwindled in the mid-1800s. Delegates to the Railroad Convention in Macon in 1836 planned three routes to crisscross Georgia, with Macon as the center. Macon became the rail center of the Southeast, referred to in one report as the “Queen Inland City of the South.” Several of the houses on this tour were built for residents who prospered during this time.

About the Tour

The South of the United States is the ideal place to explore the architecture and history of 19th and early 20th century America. Several cities have historic neighborhoods boasting hundreds of beautiful homes carefully maintained, with dozens on the National Historic Registry. Macon is a perfect example of a small Southern city, centrally located in Georgia and less than an hour from Atlanta, that has many historic homes restored for public appreciation.

If you’re looking for a manageable and enjoyable day trip from Atlanta, or just fun things to do in Macon, try our history walking tour. We’ve done the research for you, and have nearly 180 beautiful, unique homes and mansions for you to discover and explore. Our tour is special in that each home has been lit up with lights for evening viewing as well, allowing you the flexibility of choosing your tour when it suits you best.