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Historic Macon: Three properties on 'Fading Five' list saved

Ethiel Garlington, Historic Macon's executive director, said from a podium on the porch of 1107 Oglethorpe St. that the foundation helped save three of five properties just four months after the Fading Five list was announced.
Ethiel Garlington, Historic Macon's executive director, said from a podium on the porch of 1107 Oglethorpe St. that the foundation helped save three of five properties just four months after the Fading Five list was announced. lcorley@macon.com

This past summer, the Historic Macon Foundation called attention to five properties that had seen better days. The foundation hoped the public attention from its inaugural "Fading Five" list ultimately would help save the significant structures.

On Friday, just four months after putting out the list, Historic Macon announced that three of the properties -- the Bonnybrae-Bedgood House, the Ware House and Schofield Iron Works -- have been purchased and will be saved.

"I'll be honest, I didn't think we'd have this much progress this soon," Ethiel Garlington, Historic Macon's executive director, said from the veranda of the blue, two-story Ware House at 1107 Oglethorpe St. "This house will be a single-family residence, and we'll incorporate it into our Beall's Hill initiative."

Garlington said the foundation will renovate the house, which had Plexiglas in place of windows, and sell it to a family. Covenants will ensure the house will remain a single-family dwelling, he said.

Rob Apsley, 64, was among about a dozen people present for Friday's announcement.

"I've been watching this house for years," said Apsley, a 15-year member of the foundation. "It's just got such great detail, and it just has been calling out for help for so long."

Apsley stood with Stephen Reichert, a brother of Mayor Robert Reichert who said he provided a three-year grant to help pay for staff to identify the foundation's annual Fading Five properties to "raise awareness in the community of what we could lose if we're not careful."

"If we'd put Tremont Temple, and of course the (Douglass House) next door, if they had gotten the attention and the focus that these properties have, we might have a different story," Reichert said of the now-demolished historic structures that were near the Medical Center, Navicent Health. "So, (if we) learn from our past ... then perhaps we can prevent some (demolitions of historic structures) in the future. Saving these (buildings) is what makes this community unique."

THE BONNYBRAE-BEDGOOD HOUSE, 1073 Georgia Ave.

Magnificent white columns adorn the front of one of Macon's last antebellum houses that hasn't been extensively renovated. The home had been on the market for two years with very little activity until October, when it was purchased by John and Stephanie Chipley, a couple living in north Macon.

"The sellers were two sisters who inherited it and really wanted to see that house saved," Garlington said. "A lot of us in the preservation community had sort of decided the house was never going to be a single-family house."

However, the north Macon couple plans to move into the home and has already installed a new roof, Garlington said.

SCHOFIELD IRON WORKS, 500, 513 and 521 Fifth St.

In a state of demolition by neglect, the old multi-use, bank-owned industrial complex had been vacant since 1995. It was purchased by the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, Garlington said.

The complex is located in the same block as the recently announced Lofts at Capricorn, a $25 million project that's expected to include apartments, offices and retail stores. It also shares the block with the historic Capricorn Studios building, which Mercer University recently promised to rehabilitate and return to its original use as a music venue and rehearsal space.

"I really think that's the epicenter of development in downtown Macon," Garlington said.

THREE DOWN, TWO TO GO

Though three properties on the Fading Five list were saved within four months this year, Garlington said the focus of the foundation will be saving the last two properties before announcing the next Fading Five list in August 2016.

Alexander IV Elementary School, at 3769 Ridge Ave., and the Cotton Avenue Historic District remain unsaved. However, Garlington said the foundation received a grant from the Elam Alexander Trust "that will actually help us continue to try to find a developer or a solution" for saving the old school. A grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation will help the foundation save the Cotton Avenue Historic District.

"In February we're ... unveiling a walking tour of the neighborhood," Garlington said. "You'll be able to go to H&H (Restaurant), have breakfast, take this brochure around the neighborhood and actually learn more about the buildings. ... Because of the incredible African-American legacy of that neighborhood, it's important that people actually hear those stories and know those stories behind those buildings."

To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4334 or follow her on Twitter @Lauraecor.

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