Old Water Tower at Tower Park
|Permission to use this photo is required from the
Middle Georgia Archives and a credit line is due them with each
picture. To ask permission: Write to Peer Ravnan/Willard Rocker
Washington Memorial Library 1180 Washington Avenue
Macon GA 31201.
There can be no profit involved with the use of these pictures, that they are purely in the interest in preserving the history of Macon, GA.
A Little More History
The neighborhood of High St. UU Church is interesting. Washington Park was a major water supply for early Macon. Wesleyan College stood at the top of the hill where the Post Office sits. On the other side of Washington Park was the College Garden. The springs there produce a stream which is now almost entirely underground that eventually reaches the Ocmulgee. The Lamar house next door is quite old and historic. Most prominent early Maconites were entertained there at some point. The front of the house is now the back. Sidney Lanier, prominent musician, writer, and poet was born in the Sidney Lanier Cottage down the street and met his future wife at the Lamar House. The Georgia Academy for the Blind was where the apartments are on Orange St. now. Conveniently, the railroad depot was where the Episcopal Church is now on Forsyth, in fact, the church incorporated the old depot in its building. Another interesting observation is that St. Josephs and First Baptist on High Place were being built about the same time as our building. They are all very similar in materials used and we could probably garner some good ideas from their maintenance people. The bricks paving Orange and High probably came from the water tower when it was taken down. That water tower was built mainly to fight fires, and that is also why open spaces, now parks, were left between streets in the area. Usually there was a well on a street corner that anyone could use.
Report by Bretta Perkins
Here is an article on some historical research I did on our church building
and its previous occupants as well as the house next door.
Historical Background on Our Building
The actual dedication of the building was 1899, so 1999 is the 100th anniversary.
I recently spent several hours in the Washington Library looking up information on our church building. There is a folder on the first congregation, who built the building, "First Christian Church," newspaper articles, and the Macon City Directory.
First Christian Church (the denomination is Disciples of Christ)
formed in 1886 following an ad in the newspaper by L. M. Erwin who had moved to Macon from South Carolina. The church met in the Masonic Hall, then built a house on Walnut St. (L. M. Erwin donated the lot and built the building). Erwin's brother, J. D. Erwin, served as minister. In 1894 they had a "revival" meeting for 11 weeks in a tent which seated 1500 in the park at the corner of High St. and Orange (Tower Park), presumably in the shade of the big water tower which stood there for many years. There were so many new members that the building of what is now the UU Church on High St. was planned and Alexander Blair secured as architect. The building was dedicated on November 5, 1899. I think the now illegible dedication plaque read: FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH, 1898, MARION ERWIN, A. W. SMITH, J. S. SCHOFIELD TRUSTEES, H.C. COMBS-MINISTER, L.M. ERWIN-ELDER, ORANGE ST.,MACON. The Macon Telegraph reports the dedication in 1899, but the plaque evidently read 1898 because all information from the church lists 1898 as the year of the dedication. Either the plaque was ordered many years later and the correct date was not known, or, more likely, it was ordered in 1898 for presentation as a testament to Pastor H.C. Combs, who was moving to another church. He did come back to preach the dedication service in 1899. It is interesting that we held the church's 100th anniversary celebration in 1999, which is exactly 100 years from its initial dedication. The original design included a steeple (probably with a bell) on the corner tower and high roofs on the other towers, but these got cut from the budget.
The first Boy Scout group was organized in 1923.
Renovations were done several times. An upstairs room was added in 1910 for Sunday School classes. In 1913 the interior of the church was remodeled and a pipe organ installed (hand-pumped). A fire in January 1914 spread to the church from another house on High St. and water damaged the piano and pipe organ. The basement was hand dug in 1914-1915 by fifty men who agreed to dig two nights a week if the women provided good hot food.
In 1926 the house next door [below] was purchased and renovated as children's Sunday School space. It was called the Foster Educational Building. However, by 1943, it was converted into a parsonage and the kids went back to the basement. Sale of the former parsonage on Rembert Ave. was made to pay off the expenses for the Foster House. Soon however, times improved and the Foster Building was paid for. The church was redecorated in 1933.
History of the House Next Door
I could not easily find the date the house next door was constructed, but t evidently pre-dates the church and could be as early as 1885. People didn't seem to like to live their long, or else were renting.
By 1892 it was the residence of the Harry J. Bruce family. Bruce was a cotton buyer. By 1896 a lawyer named William Brunson, Jr. lived there. By 1899 the family of a merchant, W. N. Fleetwood, Jr. of Fleetwood & Co., Wholesale Liquors, Etc. lived there. However, by 1901 it was the Jesse H. Hall family. By 1925 it was the W. S. Payne family home, who sold it to First Christian Church, who sold it to the Georgia Christian Missionary Society. I did not find out its history thereafter, but it has probably been apartments just about ever since.
Report by Bretta Perkins
Page authored by Lindsay Holliday
3091 Ridge Ave. 31204
360 Spring Street Macon, GA 31201
for more info:
A Stone Plaque on High Street Unitarian Universalist Church in Macon, GA