We’re pleased to share this guest post from Emily Hopkins with the Historic Macon Foundation about their participation in this year’s national #LoveThatLot campaign.
A once-vacant lot in the Beall’s Hill neighborhood of Macon, Georgia, experienced a lot of love on Sunday, February 21. Parents and their children, couples with their dogs, and friends on their Sunday bike ride dropped in to an open house of four newly constructed homes on Ash Street hosted by Historic Macon Foundation. The open house on Ash Street, a #LoveThatLot event, was an opportunity to show the Macon community Historic Macon’s progress in revitalizing the Beall’s Hill neighborhood and possibly to attract prospective homebuyers to the neighborhood.
Over 50 people toured Historic Macon’s newly constructed home that Sunday afternoon. Neighbors, with children and dogs in tow, came out to talk to interested buyers about the neighborhood and the benefits of purchasing a Historic Macon home.
“In a lot of ways, it’s like living in a 1950s neighborhood where you let your kids walk down the street without worry,” Matt Harper, a neighbor on Calhoun Street, told some prospective buyers who asked about safety. Beall’s Hill neighbors shared testimonial after testimonial with prospective homebuyers, expressing their love for the neighborhood and the people they have gotten to know through community picnics, clean-up days and neighborhood association meetings.
Prospective home buyers had many questions as they toured the homes, primarily about the sense of community in the neighborhood and Mercer University’s down payment assistance program. Beall’s Hill, situated between Mercer University and Macon’s commercial downtown, is the prime location for Mercer employees to purchase a house. Paired with Mercer’s $20,000 down-payment assistance that is forgivable after five years and the ongoing renaissance in the neighborhood and in Macon as a whole, buying a home in Beall’s Hill is a no-brainer.
Since 2007, Historic Macon has been working to revitalize Beall’s Hill by completing 33 houses to date. Historic Macon, a nationally recognized nonprofit preservation organization, carries out its mission of revitalizing our community by preserving architecture and sharing history by concentrating its efforts in targeted neighborhoods, working block by block and street by street. The story of Beall’s Hill is typical of many historic neighborhoods that experienced decline and blight in the 1970s. The once-charming cottages that housed middle-class workers fell into disrepair as residents moved out of the neighborhood and found housing in the suburbs. Macon Heritage Foundation, Historic Macon’s predecessor, began working to rebuild the historic neighborhoods and successfully revitalized Tindall Heights and Huguenin Heights in the 1980s and 1990s, neighborhoods on the cusps of Beall’s Hill. Historic Macon took on the task of revitalizing a much larger neighborhood in 2007, committing to transforming 32 blocks in Beall’s Hill by rehabilitating historic houses and building in-fill housing on vacant lots. Historic Macon never displaces current homeowners and only purchases homes that are vacant for rehabilitation. Profits earned from selling the houses go into a revolving loan fund that ensures more homes can be completed.
In 2014, Knight Foundation generously invested $3 million into Historic Macon’s revitalization efforts in Beall’s Hill. This investment allows Historic Macon to complete the intended 32 blocks by the end of 2018 and also funds a low-interest loan program that encourages Maconites to the take the power of preservation into their own hands with façade improvement and energy efficiency loans.
Through private-public partnerships, Historic Macon has taken blighted and vacant lots and transformed them into homes for professors, ministers, and hospital nurses. Whether it’s new construction, like the homes on Ash Street, or rehabilitated historic cottages, Historic Macon creates beautiful new options for housing, attracting more residents who are committed to maintaining the diversity and character of the neighborhood.
The open house was more than an opportunity to show off these charming new cottages to prospective buyers. The open house allowed potential homebuyers to connect with neighbors, for Historic Macon to reinforce its commitment to the neighborhood, and for anyone interested in journeying across the railroad tracks to see how a lowly lot can become a well-loved home for families of all shapes and sizes. Beall’s Hill has lots to love.
About Historic Macon Foundation
Founded in 1964, Historic Macon Foundation is a nonprofit organization that revitalizes Macon by preserving architecture and sharing history. For over 50 years, Historic Macon has been engaged in community revitalization efforts and has led the nation in innovative tactics for historic preservation. For more information or to become a member, visit www.historicmacon.org or call 478-742-5084.