Gregg Allman and Cher’s Macon hideaway
Away from the bright lights of Hollywood and far from concert halls, Gregg Allman and Cher had a love nest deep in the woods of northeast Macon.
In the mid-’70s, Allman bought the “Grand Topper” house on a secluded cul-de-sac lot on Long Ridge Place.
Designed by trailblazing female architect Ellamae Ellis League, the home was built in 1970 to be auctioned off in a Macon Arts Council fundraiser to restore the Grand Opera House.
According to current and former residents, Allman was the second owner of the house in the Wood Valley subdivision nestled between Upper River and Old Clinton roads.
In 1975 when Allman brought his famous newlywed bride home to Macon, Syl and Connie Thuente were raising two young girls around the corner on Wood Valley Road.
“They would sit on the street corner and stay there and wait for him to come home,” Connie Thuente recalled. “He was always very nice, and he always waved at them.”
When Tara was about 5 years old, she bumped into Cher at the Piggly Wiggly store in Northeast Plaza.
“They just thought that was the greatest thing,” Connie Thuente said.
One time, the girls spotted Allman driving behind their station wagon at Spring and Riverside.
“All I could see were their two heads and hands waving out the back window all the way home,” Thuente said. “And he waved back. I thought that was so nice. I think it’s nice for people to know he had a kind heart.”
Chris Dunn, of Warner Robins, also was about 5 years old when Allman moved in behind his childhood home on Long Ridge Drive.
He knew there were celebrities living nearby, but he was too young to appreciate the Allman Brothers Band.
“I could hear music and his parties, but didn’t really know who they were till I was about 14 years old,” Dunn said. “There’s all kinds of stories about that house.”
As his interest grew in recent years, Dunn found an old color photo of Allman standing in front of the Long Ridge house with his 1939 Ford “Midnight Rider.”
Dunn pinned it on Pinterest.
C. Terry Holland, who lives with his partner Jeff Logan in Allman’s old house, had a different reaction when he saw the photograph.
“What’s that big car doing in front of my house?” Holland thought.
Holland and Logan have been in the house about a dozen years.
Holland, an interior designer who has a degree in architecture, actually met members of the Allman Brothers Band on his first job-hunting trip to Macon.
When he returned home to Auburn, Alabama, his roommate was playing one of their records.
“I just met those guys today in Macon,” Holland said.
“What? It’s impossible,” the roommate exclaimed.
Holland admits he was more into Motown when the Allman Brothers made their mark.
“I’m a Diana Ross fan,” Holland said.
He fell in love with the house in 2005, when it still belonged to Stanley Elliott, who moved in when his father, A.V. Elliott, moved out.
Stanley Elliott believes there was one owner between Allman and his father, who found some stashed memorabilia in the home.
“They left a lot of stuff in the attic, pictures and writings,” Stanley Elliott said. “I think my father gave it to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.”
He’s not sure where a box of nude photographs submitted by Allman’s fans wound up.
“I think I’ve got them somewhere,” he said with a laugh.
The Elliotts added decks and a pool behind the house, which backs up to a deep ravine.
A 1969 Telegraph article described the home’s “prominent shingled roof line with exterior of pink-beige brick and redwood. ... The house will be among the most luxurious in the Wood Valley area.”
The design “adapted to the contour of the lot and will take full advantage of the wooded view.”
“It’s like living in the mountains,” Holland said.
When he moved in, the kitchen had the original harvest gold appliances that were popular in the ‘70s.
Holland and Logan removed one bank of kitchen cabinets to cut an opening to the living room and upgraded the appliances.
They repurposed some of the old cabinets when they replaced the range with a cooktop.
“My throwback to the ‘70s is the orange sink,” Holland said of the upgrade, which included glass door cabinets.
The hideaway, just minutes from downtown Macon, is so beautiful that it’s difficult to leave, he said.
Holland said he’s heard that Cher would cruise through the hilly neighborhood in her MG convertible, but would seek solace at the Hilton hotel to get away from groupies.
Locals on Lake Sinclair say the former Mrs. Sonny Bono also bought a place on the water near Milledgeville.
Her marriage to Allman got off to a rocky start and lasted just 20 months, but the time was unforgettable, according to Cher’s recent social media posts.
Their cozy celebrity enclave has its place in history — and may have left a genealogical legacy, Holland said.
“Elijah Blue could have been conceived here.”