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If archaeology fascinates you, don't miss the Ocmulgee National Monument, 1207 Emery Highway, 478-752-8257. Known as the largest archaeological site east of the Mississippi, Ocmulgee has a museum with exhibits about the people who lived here from 10,000 BC to around 1700, the People of the Macon Plateau film, an earth lodge, a reconstruction of a ceremonial building, a trading post site, an 8 foot high cornfield mound, and the burial mound that was used as the last resting place for over 100 village leaders. In the museum you'll find exhibits featuring artifacts from the 6 Native American groups who lived here.
If you love to take walking tours, head to the Convention and Visitors Bureau office where you can find information on a Victorian Walking Tour, the White Columns Walking Tour, and the Downtown Walking Tour. All of these will point out neat historical buildings and homes, some of which are not open to the public. If you'd rather have the fun of hearing a costumed tour guide fill you in on the stories of these historic sites, call the friendly folks at the Macon Convention & Visitors Bureau, 478-743-3401, 800-768-3401, for suggestions one tour companies.
If you'd like to see how the wealthy lived in the 1800s, head to the Hay House, 934 Georgia Ave, 478-742-8155. After whisking his bride away on a 4-year European honeymoon (no-the "4" is not a typo), William Butler Johnston came home in 1860 and spent five years overseeing the building of their Italian Renaissance Revival mansion. As you tour this magnificent home, you'll see indoor bathrooms, hot and cold running water, an intercom system, an intricate ventilation system, hand carved marble mantles, fantastic plaster work, and an elevator. All of which were way ahead of there time.
For a look inside more historical homes visit the Sidney Lanier Cottage and the Woodruff House. A stop at the Sidney Lanier Cottage, 935 High St., 478-743-3851, will give you a chance to see where this famous poet was born in 1842. On the grounds you'll also find an old-fashioned garden much like the original. Only open by appointment, the Woodruff House, 988 Bond St., 478-744-2715, was built in 1836 for Jerry Cowles, a local banker. In 1847 Colonel Joseph Bond bought the house. Colonel Bond became a household name around these parts 10 years later when he made the world's largest record setting cotton sale of 2,200 bales for $100,000.00. During 1865 when Macon was occupied by Union troops, General Wilson chose this house as his personal residence. Adding to the historical significance of this home is that fact that Confederate President Jefferson Davis and is family were entertained here in 1887.
Next head to the Grand Opera House, 651 Mulberry St., 478-749-6580. Built in 1884, in its day this theater had the largest stage south of the Macon Dixon line. It was so huge that it was able to feature Ben Hur, complete with horses running on treadmills to create the feel of a chariot race! Then stop by the Neel Reid Garden Center, 730 College St., 478-742-0921, where you'll find a 1907 mansion surrounded by beautiful gardens and landscaping.
If you enjoy the history found in old cemeteries, you need to visit Rose Hill Cemetery, 1091 Riverside Dr., 478-751-9119. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this cemetery features terraced hills that slope down to the banks of the Ocmulgee River. On the grounds you'll find the final resting places of Duane Alman and Berry Oakley of the Alman Brothers Band, along with some 600 Confederate and Union soldiers' in Confederate Square.
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