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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Southern mansions open doors to Macon history

Courtesy Hay House Museum

Although Macon was the Confederacy’s official arsenal, Gen. Tecumseh Sherman spared the city on his fiery march to the sea for fear of a unified Rebel attack. The only architectural casualty was a 1853 Greek Revival home, struck by a Yankee cannonball fired from across the Ocmulgee River.

That cannonball can be seen today in the wall of the four-columned Cannonball House. The home’s formal garden and museum of Macon and Confederate history are among several off-site venues in historic homes.

Another appeared on A&E’s “America’s Castles” and is often referred to as the “Palace of the South.”

Built in the late 1850s, Hays House is an 18,000-square-foot, seven-story Italian Renaissance Revival palazzo with 24 rooms. A $7.1 million capital campaign recently restored its three-story cupola, ground floor and main level.

When constructed, the home had hot and cold running water, an intercom system, central heat and an advanced ventilation system, all amenities that were far ahead of the times.

Trompe l’oeil that looks exactly like real marble is used on many walls.

“The owner could have afforded the real thing without a second thought,” said Ruth Sykes of the Macon-Bibb County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “But because the fake-marble effect was in fashion at the time, he went with the less-expensive alternative.”

The home’s second floor, including the dining room and a spacious ballroom, can host receptions for up to 250.

A behind-the-scenes tour takes groups through every historic nook, the cupola and a catwalk with views of downtown Macon.