Ethiel Garlington on Macon’s Fading Five 2020 List
Friday, August 28th, 2020
Executive Director of the Historic Macon Foundation Ethiel Garlington gives details on Macon’s Fading Five 2020 List. This program is designed to raise awareness of endangered sites throughout the community.
Historic Macon Foundation added two new sites to its 2020 Macon’s Fading Five list, including the former Roxy Theatre on Hazel Street.
The preservation nonprofit also removed two historic buildings — the Train Recreation Center and the Guy E. Paine House — from the list, deeming them no longer under threat.
Ethiel Garlington, Historic Macon’s executive director, made the Fading Five announcement in front of the Roxy building on Hazel Street Thursday morning.
“With the Macon community’s help, we are making progress year by year in saving our historic buildings,” he said. “Preservation promotes progress. We’re grateful for everyone who stands with us.”
The 2020 Macon’s Fading Five list includes: the Roxy Theatre building; the Coddington house, a Neil Reid-designed home at 2510 Vineville Ave.; the Dewitt McCrary house; the Coaling Tower; and the Bobby Jones Performing Arts Center.
Garlington said that another Historic Macon initiative, the Saving Places Index, actually helped identify the Roxy.
Also Thursday, Weston Stroud, who was recently awarded an Emerging Cities Champions grant, discussed his plans to create Roxy Park. The plan calls for using the area near the former theater as a park for food trucks and a pedestrian plaza, generating new opportunities for small businesses.
Historic Macon sifts through nominations each year to craft its Fading Five list. 2020 marks the sixth year of the program, which calls attention to historic sites across Macon-Bibb County that could be lost due to development or neglect.
To date, Historic Macon has listed 15 such properties. In all, nine of them have been saved and protected, while just one property has been lost.
Two sites came off the list this year: the Train Recreation Center and the Guy Paine house. Just last week, Macon-Bibb County commissioners approved spending nearly $900,000 to stabilize the Train building and renovate the exterior. Also last week, Historic Macon announced that it had bought the Guy Paine house, and it’s now on the market.
In 2014, the community lost two historic structures, Tremont Temple Baptist Church and the former Charles H. Douglass home, to commercial development, prompting the Fading Five initiative.
This year, Historic Macon’s Preservation Committee culled through nominations from its members as well as the general public to select the 2020 list. Through the program, Historic Macon crafts strategic preservation plans for each of the listed properties, working creatively with property owners, local leaders and supporters to find solutions.
A property remains on the list until the site is no longer under threat, the Preservation Committee determines that it has been appropriately preserved, or it is lost. A new list is announced annually, with updates for each site.
Thanks to the generosity of the 1772 Foundation and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, HMF has a revolving fund — the Fading Five Fund — dedicated to preserving endangered places in the community. These funds have been used to revitalize houses in the North Highlands neighborhood and acquire the Fire Hall No. 4 on Third Street, which will become Historic Macon’s new headquarters by next summer.
For more than 55 years, HMF has helped preserve hundreds of historic buildings. The Fading Five program is another tool to help promote the community’s rich, diverse heritage.
For more information and to get involved with Macon’s Fading Five, visit www.historicmacon.org or call 478-742-5084.
Here’s a closer look at this year’s sites:
ROXY THEATRE, 445 HAZEL ST.
In its heyday, the Roxy Theatre was a hub of community activity in what was known as the Tybee neighborhood, off what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
It was a movie house with a large marquee out front that advertised the films that were playing — or coming up — and it also was used for live music, talent shows and more. Phil H. Kaplan built it. Among the events there in the 1950s: The Teenage Party, where a young singer named Otis Redding took the stage. (The shows soon outgrew the Roxy and moved to the Douglass Theatre.)
Its style is known as a Quonset hut (named for Quonset Point, R.I., where it was first built). These prefabricated buildings were popular during and after World War II.
The theater opened in late 1949, during the Jim Crow era, and was specifically for Black patrons. At the time, The Macon Telegraph noted its “comfortable red leather cushioned seats which are spaced far enough apart to prevent your having to move each time another patron comes in.”
The theater closed about 10 years later with little notice. A Telegraph ad that ran Nov. 1, 1959, noted that the building was available “for rent or for sale.”
In 1960, the building was part of a lease-purchase agreement with a church, but in time that arrangement faded too.
The Roxy faces further decline due to neglect, vandalism and unsympathetic redevelopment. Historic Macon will try to find the legal property owner and develop a long-term use for this iconic property.
CODDINGTON HOUSE, 2510 VINEVILLE AVE.
The second addition to the 2020 Fading Five list is the Neel Reid-designed Coddington House at 2510 Vineville Ave. Reid is arguably Macon’s most famous architect, and his design aesthetic is visible every day in cities all across Georgia.
Reid designed eight houses in the Vineville neighborhood. Four of them are in the three blocks from the intersection with Pio Nono Avenue/Pierce Avenue to Buckingham Place. Two of the four are threatened by vacancy and neglect. This stretch of Vineville — with some of the larger and more elegant homes in the neighborhood — anchors the Vineville Historic District.
A total of 16 homes (five of them unoccupied); two small, historically commercial properties; and one church line the avenue. This part of Vineville is the most intact segment of the original Vineville suburb still remaining. It is in danger of losing several homes if action is not taken soon.
The Coddington House is unoccupied. It was briefly listed as in bankruptcy and was for sale, but it is now in limbo. The house is stable.
These three blocks are the last holdout of primarily residential properties that typify the corridor of the Vineville Historic District. The smaller and quieter cross streets are largely intact and form a vibrant residential neighborhood, but the pressures of increased traffic and commercial incursion along the primary corridor are increasing.
Along the rest of Vineville Avenue (and in other major cities like Atlanta), once a major thoroughfare is no longer a residential street, the adjacent cross streets begin to crumble as well. If attention is brought soon to these three blocks, Historic Macon believes that it can preserve much of the critical fabric of the Historic Vineville neighborhood.
The Vineville Neighborhood Association and Historic Macon Foundation would work hand in hand with the active group of current homeowners and to accomplish this goal.
DEWITT MCCRARY HOUSE, 320 Hydrolia St.
The DeWitt McCrary house, built in the 1870s and added to the Fading Five list in 2019, is a beautiful example of a Folk Victorian-style home. Located at 320 Hydrolia St. near the Mill Hill Community Arts Center, its most immediate threat comes from development pressure.
Mr. McCrary was born in 1859 in Lee County, near Albany, and graduated from Mercer University in 1876. He was a druggist and started a pharmacy nearby in 1881 at 336 Main St. During his life he was elected a city alderman and commissioner.
McCrary’s widow sold the home for $850 in 1945 to Peyton Balkcom. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and is part of the East Macon Historic District.
At one time, there was a plan to build a gas station on the lot and tear down two other houses. But the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission denied that application.
Historic Macon continues conversations with the owner to try to negotiate a bargain sale.
BOBBY JONES PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, 1389 Jefferson St.
This unique structure was used as a coal chute until 1965, when its current owner, Transco Railway, bought the tract that it sits on. The site, located in the county’s Industrial District, is now used for rail car repairs.
Built in 1910 for the Central of Georgia Railroad, the Coaling Tower is a relic of Macon’s booming industrial heritage. Sometimes referred to as a “tipple,” the structure was built to replenish coal for the busy rail yard close by. The chute sits on a 22-acre parcel that once housed the Georgia Railroad car shops and massive roundhouse complex.
The Coaling Tower, added to the Fading Five list in 2018, is threatened with demolition by neglect. When buildings or structures are no longer functional or serve a purpose, it is challenging to prioritize maintenance or upkeep.
Just last month, Macon-Bibb County’s mayor and commission set aside funds for a structural report to evaluate the prospects of saving it.
Historic Macon aims to continue the dialogue with Transco to try to secure a conservation easement on the iconic structure. And as a reminder how beautiful it is, check out Curtis Hertwig’s photo in the new Bright City exhibit at NewTown Macon.
To be included in our video interviews or if you need video services for your company, please contact us.