Poet Sidney Lanier was born in Macon in 1842 at 935 High Street. Today, his birthplace is the home of the Historic Macon Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of and education about Macon’s heritage.
Macon Education History
Macon’s history is rich in education, which is still true to this day. There are no less than four colleges and the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon. The colleges are Mercer University, Wesleyan College, Mount de Sales Academy, and Middle Georgia State College. Of those four, three are well over 100 years old – Mercer is nearing its bicentennial, and young Middle Georgia State College is nearly 50. The Georgia Academy for the Blind is also well over 100 years old. Education history? Macon has it!
Three years prior to Lanier’s birth, Wesleyan College opened its doors at 451 College Street, where it remained until moving to another location in 1928. In 1963, the original building burned to the ground. Now the main post office sits on the site. Across the street is 397 College Street, a magnificent home built and used by the president of Wesleyan. Later, it would be remodeled by famous architect Neel Reid.
Georgia Academy for the Blind
A block from Sidney Lanier’s birthplace the original location of Georgia Academy for the Blind was established in 1852, across the street from Wesleyan, where it remained until 1906 when it moved to its current location. In 1882 the “Negro School” opened on a separate site, and remained there until it merged with the main campus in 1981. While the school is gone, the superintendent in 1875 built a beautiful home across the street, which still majestically stands at 575 College Street.
Mount de Sales Academy
Just a couple of blocks down from Wesleyan and the Georgia Academy for the Blind , another college for women opened up. This one, the Mount de Sales Academy, was Catholic. Of the three colleges surrounding Lanier’s Cottage, the Mount de Sales is the only one to remain on its original grounds. In response to the tragedy of 9/11, the neighboring Medical Center of Central Georgia created a labyrinth in the tiny Rose Park across the street as a gift to the people of the region as a way to help them through those difficult times; a visit is highly recommended.
Macon’s largest historical college is Mercer University, originally established in Penfield, Georgia in 1833 by Jesse Mercer, a Baptist minister. In 1871, Mercer moved to Macon where it has endured for nearly 150 years, turning out exceptional students.
Macon’s history extends beyond the 19th century education, helped by the explosive music scene of the 1960s. Rock and Soul have big roots here, with greats such as Little Richard, James Brown, and Otis Redding starting their legendary careers right here with WIBB radio station, the first black-owned radio station in Georgia, recording and playing their music.
About this post:
My participation in a Digital Humanities Seminar class included creating a final interactive project. This is it: Macon: Then and Now GeoHistoric Project, which was inspired by Historic Macon Foundation’s traveling exhibit titled “Macon: Then and Now“; it includes places of historical significance, buildings of note, and people who played a part in Macon’s history. The project is designed so YOU can play along! While not necessary, the following will enhance your enjoyment: Google Earth and Google Maps, PDF reader, GPS, a QR Code reader, and a sense of adventure.
Hidden in some links in this blog are a couple of geocaches. Each place also has a link to a map of their location where exists a physical QR Code that can be used to reveal a website with additional information. If you don’t have a QR Code reader, never fear: simply write down the 6-character code on the QR Code and enter it in the form below. Under the form some downloads: a PDF crossword puzzle with answers you’ll literally have to seek, a Google Earth download of all locations, and an OpenStreetMap download of the area. Have fun!
- Google Earth KMZ file of Macon: Then and Now – The GeoHistoric Project
- OpenStreetMap-of-Macon.osm – an OpenStreetMap file