Former shop will be Fort Hawkins visitors center

One day — and it can’t come too soon for fort supporters — an empty former auto shop on Emery Highway will be a visitors center for a rebuilt Fort Hawkins adjacent to it.

Plans call for a fireproof vault to store artifacts unearthed at the fort, where Macon was established in the early 1800s. A classroom is part of the plan, Fort Hawkins Commission Chairman Marty Willett said.

But for now, the commission is raising money to renovate the building and to turn the fort site itself into a vibrant tourist attraction. Tuesday, Mayor Robert Reichert held a news conference to call attention to the effort and to thank partners who helped the city to purchase the former convenience store and auto shop.

That was done in a land swap involving the city, Bibb County Commissioner Lonzy Edwards, who owned the property, and the Peyton Anderson Foundation, which provided some funding.

Reichert handed the keys to the building over to Willett on Tuesday, but only for a moment. The mayor said he needed them back to make a copy, and the city, which the Fort Hawkins Commission is a part of, still owns the building.

Still, Willett called it “a glorious day for Fort Hawkins.” He invited people to visit the commission’s Web site, www.forthawkins.com, to view the group’s master plan.