Tram takes passengers to old sites in Perry

awoolen@macon.comJune 4, 2014 

PERRY -- Ellie Loudermilk described the tour as not an ABC tour but an AOH one.

In other words, the tram tour of historic homes was not to see another beautiful church, but another old house.

The open-air tram, normally used for transportation during the Perry Music Festival or other events, was filled to capacity Thursday evening. There is a waiting list for people who want to take the tram tour, said Catherine Edgemon, Main Street coordinator for the city of Perry.

Ironically, the tour started in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church of Perry off Main Street. The parking lot formerly was home to a Gothic-style church built in 1878, but was torn down to make room for the parking lot.

Loudermilk, president of the Perry Area Historic Society, narrated the tour down Main Street and through neighborhoods past homes of some of Perry’s famous residents, like the home where former Sen. Sam Nunn grew up.

The tour was put together by Edgemon as part of an effort to educate the community about Perry’s past.

May is National Historic Preservation month, and the idea was to “do something enjoyable,” Edgemon said.

On Beckham Drive, stately homes, some built in the late 1800s, are surrounded by modern facilities like the Houston County Board of Education. Behind it, a small white building, the Springhill School sits. Built in 1905, it now hosts meetings and tour groups.

According to documentation, 29 buildings in Perry were moved within the city limits.

One of those was the Beckham home, which was built in the 1850s.

“It was rolled here with logs and a mule,” Loudermilk said.

The Houston County Courthouse was always on its current site, although the current building is the third structure built at the corner of Main and Ball streets.

There were two famous trials held there.

Tom Woolfolk was convicted of murdering his family and was sentenced to hang. About 8,000 people attended the hanging in 1890, Loudermilk said.

The second was Carl Isaacs’ retrial, where he was convicted of murder in 1988.

Perry was also a tourist stop. Loudermilk said there were four 16-room hotels in downtown Perry.

The New Perry Hotel, formerly the Old Perry Hotel, was a stagecoach stop.

Amanda Toomer’s house on Carroll Street is the only galvanized medal home in downtown Perry. Built in 1905, the house was a store before becoming a funeral home for many years, Loudermilk said.

With a brief stop for water and air conditioning at the Perry Area Historical Museum, the tram dropped its passengers back at the church.

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