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Macon woman aims to save historic Black church in Pleasant Hill neighborhood

Historic Macon executive director Ethiel Garlington says the Bobby Jones Performing Arts Center has been on their Fading Five list since 2016.

MACON, Ga. — At the corner of Jefferson and Monroe streets sits a building with deep roots in Macon history.

"Bobby Jones was the first African-American tenured professor at Mercer University," said Tonja Khabir.

Khabir knows the building needs some work. She's afraid it will be destroyed and become lost Black history like other buildings.

"The situation with the Charles Henry Douglass and Tremont Temple which were located in downtown Macon, they were two historically-Black spaces and they were under serious threat of demolition," said Khabir.

The Bobby Jones Performing Arts Center was originally the first congregational church in Pleasant Hill built in 1917.

Historic Macon says the congregational church was started in 1868, and was working to improve Macon's Black community.

In 1998, the Booker T. Washington Foundation bought the building and named it for Bobby Jones.

Khabir says she's working with Historic Macon to make sure that the building can be refurbished and doesn't lose its history.

"This is another building that means so much to us as a community, as a Black community, for this historic area of Pleasant Hill," said Khabir.

Historic Macon executive director Ethiel Garlington said the center has been on their Fading Five list since 2016. The list keeps track of historic Macon buildings that may be demolished.

"Because we have not found a preservation solution yet for the building, it stays on the Fading Five until we find that new buyer or new use for that building," said Garlington.

Khabir hopes that keeping the building will reconnect the Pleasant Hill community.

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