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Just Curious: How does a site enter the National Register of Historic Places?

Plenty of places across Central Georgia are officially listed on the national registry, but here's how they received that distinction

This report has been contributed by Elizabeth Tammi, a student from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

There are plenty of historic houses, parks and sites across Macon that all share one distinction -- they’re listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the National Park Service, this register has been in place since 1966.

Some sites in Macon have been listed for decades. Others, like the Ruth Hartley Mosley Memorial Women’s Center, entered as recently as September 2017.

I visited the Cannonball House, which earned its spot on the register in the 1970s, to learn more about why a site like this qualified for the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1853, the house was damaged during the Civil War from Union forces, which led to its title as “Cannonball” House. It’s one of over 93,000 sites listed on the register.

Wayne Dobson, an employee at the Cannonball House, said that it’s more than the damage it sustained at war.

“Of course, that’s its claim to fame,” he said. “But it’s one of the very good examples of Greek revival architecture in Macon.”

Dobson said there are plenty of homes in Macon similar to the Cannonball House in design and historic value.

“But there are very few where you can come in like this,” Dobson said. “This one and the Hay House are really the main two that are open on a daily basis.”

In order for any site, like the Cannonball House and the Hay House, to be added to the National Register of Historic Places, it must first be nominated to the respective State Historic Preservation Office.

According to the website for the National Park Service, a site is evaluated by its age, integrity and significance.

They said sites should be “generally at least 50 years old” and “still look much the way it did in the past."

Additionally, nominated sites need to be “associated with events, activities, or developments that were important in the past.”

Dobson said that Macon has no shortage of history present on its streets.

“Maybe things don’t stand out as much in Macon like this because, as you know, the movie industry films a lot here in Macon,” Dobson said. “I think one of the reasons they do that is, if you want a building that’s been built in the last 150 years, we’ve probably got it.”