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Historic home, blighted bank join Historic Macon's 2021 Fading Five list

The Willingham-McBrearty House on College Street and the former First National Bank and Trust Co. building on Houston Avenue have been added

MACON, Ga. — A grand century-old home and a decaying bank building are the newest members of Historic Macon's Fading Five. The 2021 list was released Thursday.

The foundation goes through nominations annually to put the list together with the intent of drawing attention to sites across Macon-Bibb County that could be lost due to development or neglect.

"With the help of our partners and the Macon community, we are making steady progress in saving our historic buildings,” said Historic Macon executive director, Ethiel Garlington. “This preservation work is important to our neighborhoods and the very fabric of Macon. We’re grateful for everyone who stands with us."

With the addition of the Willingham-McBrearty House on College Street and the former First National Bank and Trust Co. building on Houston Avenue, two sites on the previous list have been removed -- the Coddington House on Vineville Avenue and the Dewitt McCrary House on Hydrolia Street.

That means the 2021 list is: the Willingham-McBrearty House, First National Bank and Trust Co., Roxy Theatre, Coaling Tower and the Bobby Jones Performing Arts Center.

Here’s a closer look at 2021's new sites:

Willingham-McBrearty House at 381 College Street.

The Willingham-McBrearty House has a Classical Revival style, with a full-width front porch with full-height Corinthian columns. It's near other historic, high-profile homes and buildings, like the 1842 Inn and the McDuffie Center for Strings.

The house was built by Calder Willingham in the early 1900s, when he married Eunice Williams. He was president of the Willingham Cotton Mill and, later, the Willingham Loan & Trust Co. The property remained in his family until about 1942.

The next owner was John F. McBrearty, who bought the home in 1945. Members of the McBrearty family owned the house until 2005, when it went through a period of short-term owners before Quantum Dynamics, a business management consulting company on Second Street, bought it in 2011.

The house has sat vacant in recent years and needs some repairs to the gutter system, which has caused erosion of the roof cornice.

The main threat facing this building is long-term vacancy and the associated maintenance issues. The ideal solution would be its purchase as a single-family home, with maintenance commensurate to that of adjacent properties.

The First National Bank and Trust Co. at 2791 Houston Avenue.

This building was built about 1957 as the southside branch of The First National Bank and Trust Co. It was the first branch bank that First National opened. The bank appears to have stopped operating there by 2000. Vivian Wiley bought it in 2002 before it transferred between LLCs in 2008 and 2019.

It is a mid-century modern building, making it the first such structure on the Fading Five list.

The building combines mid-century elements with modern takes on traditional bank architecture. The cast-stone panels on the side elevation, the paired horizontal metal sash windows and the metal, storefront system entrance are all mid-century features. The building also has modern takes on historic themes and traditional bank architectural style.

The building faces several different threats, including vacancy, vandalism and demolition through neglect.

The solution would be a sale to a proactive owner who will repair it, put it back into service, and then maintain it.

For more information on Macon’s Fading Five, visit www.historicmacon.org or call 478-742-5084.


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