Hundreds tour historic homes in Macon

Hundreds tour historic homes in Macon

wcrenshaw@macon.comDecember 8, 2012 

Before gated communities and subdivisions lined with cookie-cutter homes, people built houses on actual city streets, each one uniquely different.

This weekend, InTown Macon is offering a look back into that era with its Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes, held every two years.

The tour included 10 homes in the College Street area, with the oldest being the home of Al and Kay Gerhardt. Kay Gerhardt said it is believed to have been built in the 1840s.

In the 1870s, the two-story home was moved a short distance to its current location on College Street by rolling it on logs with mules pulling, she said.

“It’s amazing they could move a house like this back in those days,” she said.

When they bought it in 1995, it had been divided into apartments and had fallen into severe disrepair. They worked on it for six months before moving in, but have continued to work on it through the years.

A distinctive feature of most all old homes is the high ceilings, which are 14 feet in Gerhardt’s home. It’s not exactly efficient for heating and cooling, but she likes it.

“You have a feeling of spaciousness,” she said.

Restoring an old home can be a daunting and expensive process, but tour co-chair Lesley Volpe called it “a labor of love” for the owners.

“A lot of these people have lived here many years and have worked on it room by room,” said Volpe. “We consider ourselves caretakers of these homes.”

An estimated 300 to 400 people are expected to take the tour, which continues Sunday from 1-7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at 535 College St.

Charles and Pat Williams came from Tallahassee, Fla., for the tour. Charles Williams, a physician, got his undergraduate degree at Mercer and learned about the tour when he was in Macon for an alumni event earlier this year.

“They have just been gorgeous,” he said after visiting a few of the homes Saturday. “What’s most interesting is the history and the background behind them.”

Boy Scouts lined the sidewalks along the tour with luminaries to light the way in the evening.

The tour is a fundraiser for InTown Macon, a group that works to promote the historic residential area referred to as InTown.

The brick home of Jessica Walden and her husband, Jamie Weatherford, is on the tour. It features an upright piano in the front room that was once used by Otis Redding to compose songs.

They bought the home, built about 1875, two years ago. Walden, who works with the College Hill Corridor initiative, said she is glad to open her home to help promote the area.

“We welcome people in,” she said. “We just want people to know that it’s an accessible, attractive neighborhood that’s safe.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw call 256-9725.

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