Explore architecture of Neel Reid during annual ramble hosted by Federated Garden Club of Macon

April 18, 2014 


The Neel House, which now houses the Federated Garden Clubs of Macon, was architect Neel Reid’s first job after graduation from Columbia University just after the turn of the 20th Century.

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Neel Reid led a short life but left a lasting mark on Macon.

The highly regarded architect designed more than 40 Macon buildings before his untimely death in 1926 at age 40. Many of the local buildings are still standing and will be featured in the Federated Garden Clubs of Macon’s Neel Reid Ramble.

The event will happen at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and will include a tour of a private home on North Avenue.

“(Reid) was very well known up and down the East Coast,” said Flo Mellard, who is president of the garden club, which is headquartered in the Neel House at 730 College St. “He was a Macon boy and his family was very good friends with the Joseph Neel Family and he designed (the Neel House) for them. Because of it, he also designed many houses in Macon. We have wonderful examples of his architecture.”

This includes the Massee Apartments at 347 College St. and the American Federal Building at 544 Mulberry St.

“Those two structures are still standing as well as approximately 30 houses,” Mellard said. “He designed a lot on College Street and then he went out into the Vineville area and Cherokee Heights and also this house over on North Avenue, which is very much the Tudor look that he liked.”

The ramble will involve a narrated bus tour of buildings designed by Reid. The group will then tour the 1913 Miller-Bates Home and gardens on North Avenue.

“(The owner) is in the process of redoing this house and has gardens that have 127 rose bushes,” Mellard said. “He has brought these gardens back from a jungle. ... It really should be beautiful.”

The tour will end with a cocktail party at the Neel House. Reid, who was known for his elaborate wood carvings and mantles, designed the home as well as several pieces of furniture that are still there.

“The Neels moved into it in 1910 and we have owned it for the last 57 years,” Mellard said. “We bought it from the Neel family. Because he did design so many homes in Macon, we decided to start featuring the homes he designed in a ramble.”

There have been three previous rambles, which involved tours of two homes on Oakhaven Avenue and another home on College Street.

“We’ve had excellent response for each event,” Mellard said. “They are all different. We’re going to hear the history of some of the others that we’ve not heard before. So this ramble will be a little bit different.”

The Neel House regularly is open from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and by appointment.

“We have a very fine, award-winning architectural venue upstairs at the Neel House that highlights his work and his life,” Mellard said. “He did beautiful classic architecture. The Neel House is one of three in the state that is open to the public.”

Neel Reid Ramble

When: 5:30 p.m. April 24

Where: Meet at the Neel House, 730 College St.

Cost: $40 for Federated Garden Club members and their guests; $50 for non-members

Information: www.fgcmacon.org, 478-742-0921

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