Through a nondescript door on Second Street, up the narrow stairs to an untouched and forgotten space, guests found what could have been a hidden speakeasy during the 13 years of prohibition in the early 20th century.
On Feb. 11, bartender Ryan Smith served up drinks reminiscent of those years for Historic Macon Foundation's History by the Glass, a "pop up speakeasy" fundraiser for the Design, Wine and Dine Festival, which will be held in June. Smith, former food and drink editor for "Southern Bon Vivant," channeled his role with aplomb -- complete with arm bands and a handlebar mustache -- as he prepared signature potions for Eleta and Alex Morrison.
This is one of many events co-chairs Susannah Maddox and Canaan Marshall have planned, with the help of Historic Macon's events committee, to promote the third annual week-long calendar of visits by experts in the fields of design and gastronomic creations for the design festival.
The Friday following the throwback to the flapper years, a house on Calhoun Street in Beall's Hill was open to interior designers and decorative artists who are interested in transforming the late 1800-era residence to the Design House, centerpiece of festival week.
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Susan Raza, Shauna Davis, Judy Hodgens and Sally Draughon were among the area professionals who will select a space in the charming, late Victorian cottage that stood neglected and vacant for years before Historic Macon saved it from the wrecking ball.
HISTORIC CITY AROUND A PARK
Beall's Hill, the neighborhood behind Alexander II Elementary School and bordering Mercer University's campus, is the result of a revitalization effort facilitated by Mercer, Macon-Bibb County, Historic Macon and the Macon Housing Authority 10 years ago.
Where abandoned houses and a public housing project were razed, new houses -- designed to be compatible with the neighborhood's historic integrity -- were built to complement existing houses that have been restored or renovated.
Tattnall Square Park, the public facility that has undergone total restoration, has been open to all residents since Macon received its charter in 1823. The 16-acre park is the 26th largest public park in the nation and surpassed in Georgia only by a few larger parks in Savannah.
Originally designated as a place where farmers could sell their produce and families could safely enjoy leisure time, the park is now bordered by two neighborhoods that have seen a resurgence of investment in downtown living. Huguenin Heights, on the opposite side of the park from Beall's Hill, started its decline after the interstate divided the neighborhood in the late 1960s. Infused with money from grants and from loans in the mid 1990s to Mercer employees who would live in the neighborhood, the streets now are alive with young families.
The Mulberry Market, on Wednesdays, revives one of the traditions of the original plan, offering fresh produce. Fresh meats, handcrafted cheeses and other home-grown products make grocery shopping a delightful outing just a brisk walk from home for residents of the entire College Hill Corridor.
STRESS FREE VALENTINE'S DAY
Since Valentine's Day fell on a Sunday, only those who planned in advance were fortunate enough to secure reservations at the few open, upscale restaurants in Macon. The parking lot at Natalia's overflowed while Dovetail's lucky diners took every parking place on Cherry Street and for blocks around the restaurant. The Rookery and Bearfoot Tavern, recently relocated to Second Street, entertained their jeans-clad customers with music, food and drinks for a dressed down, laid back evening.
A few imaginative friends who chose not to stand in line for hours, cooked for each other a banquet fit for Cupid. In a downtown loft apartment, glasses were raised in sympathy for the pedestrians walking the streets. Away from the madding crowd, Evelyn and Joe Adams toasted 46 years of marriage, and dined on the most delectable tenderloin, prepared by Phyllis Farmer, with other guests supplying hors d'oeuvres, salad and vegetables to cap off a memorable day for friends and lovers.
On the eve of Valentine's Day, the local chapter of USA Dance sponsored a semi-formal dance at the Howard Community Club where Deidre and Bob McMichael danced to the romantic strains of big band music. At intermission, dance instructor Diane Kent and Ron Smith demonstrated the steps to the most graceful dance of all -- the waltz -- to encourage others on the floor to embrace the romance of Valentine's Day!
Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.