Macon’s Got Curves: Neoclassical Edition
April 26, 2018
Neoclassical architecture has its beginnings as early as the mid-18th century. The style’s inspiration came from early Rome, aspects of 16th century Renaissance Classicism and our perception of Ancient Greece.
In the United States, the build style was refashioned under the new identity of “Federalist architecture.” Great structural examples of this reformatted design are the White House and the Baltimore Basilica in Maryland.
What the American South knows well as Greek Revival and Italian Renaissance Revival buildings of the mid-19th century are technically versions of neoclassical architecture. However, some argue that these approaches aim to build exactly to the proportions of ancient Greeks and the later Renaissance movements.
Neoclassical architecture in general is not as concerned with building to exact proportions, but rather incorporating the ornate elements of the Classical period.
It would not be until the architectural and arts movement of the “American Renaissance” from c. 1876 to 1917 that the term neoclassical would widely be used when referring to architecture design in the United States.
Inspired by the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, these American structures are often referred to as Neoclassical Revival due to their late popularity. The style would remain in demand until the 1950s.
Here in Macon there are many first-rate examples of Neoclassical Revival buildings, from downtown municipal structures to private homes. These are our five city standouts. Of course, in no particular order.
1. Federal Building and Former Main Post Office
Once the site of Macon’s main post office, this handsome building is constructed out of Georgia marble built in the Roman-Ionic style. The federal building was erected after 3 years of construction. It now houses the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia and continues to operate as a downtown branch of the United State Postal Service.
2. Bennett House
Built by Eugene Harris, the house sits over the historic spring of the former W. B. Johnston estate, now know as Hay House. The front porch features a parade of columns creating a temple style facade paired with neoclassical ornamentation. The home is currently being restored.
3. A. B. Hinkle House
This former house built by A. B. Hinkle features a curved front porch with detailed columns and a unique wrought iron balcony. The home incorporates mid-19th century Italianate style. The house has now been converted to well-maintained apartments.
4. Washington Memorial Library
The downtown library incorporates early Federalist style in its design with the simplicity and squareness of shape. The building was erected as a memorial to Hugh Vernon Washington, son of former Macon mayor James H. R. Washington. The Neoclassical Revival structure boasts classic inspiration with the use of ornamentation and columns.
5. Turpin-Grace-Hart House
This Neoclassical Revival home shares many similarities with the earlier Greek Revival structures that grace Macon’s Antebellum neighborhoods. The house features a simple Juliette balcony above the front door and a parade of Corinthian columns. However it is almost entirely constructed from brick. This was once the home of John Freeman Hart Jr. of Hart’s Mortuary and founder of the Middle Georgia Historical Society, now Historic Macon Foundation.