Exhibit tells Macon's architecture history

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MACON, Ga. (AP) - Tucked away in a small corner of an architecture exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Sciences is the story of "lost Macon."

There was a Lanier Hotel once on Mulberry Street, gone now, razed to the ground in 1975, but it was an example of 19th century architecture and Macon history that looked like an MGM movie set.

So, too, went the Exchange Bank building on the corner of Third and Cherry streets to the wrecking ball. The Victorian Era bank sported decorated chimneys and a corner cupola when it was built in 1891.

For architect and Macon history buffs, the most recently and notably famous is the story of the Goodall-Collins house on Orange Street, built in 1859 and demolished in 1975. This historic home spurred locals to take a long look at Middle Georgia architecture.

This trio of photographs was enough to motivate 17-year-old Ashley Parker to think about her future Saturday as she pondered the exhibit.

"I guess it would be interesting to be an architect," Parker said. "I'd like to be outdoors though. Do they work outside?"

When told yes, Parker's face brightened. "I could do that. It would be better than accounting or some boring job," she said.

Museum science curator Jim Greenhouse hopes Ashley isn't the only one moved by the exhibit, on display until January.

"This is something we have been planning for years, and the intent was to capture not only the history of architecture but also Macon's uniqueness as a city," Greenhouse said. "There are some historically interesting pieces of architecture from many time periods right here in Middle Georgia that people can see during an afternoon drive."

Some examples range in style and periods from the iconic Hay House on Georgia Avenue on Coleman Hill, which was built over four years starting in 1854, to the Fickling and Walker Building - originally built by Georgia Power in 1969 - an example of a more modern office building.

"You go by these places all the time, but who knows why they look (the) way they do?" Parker said.

The exhibit isn't confined to Macon, and has examples of architecture periods from across history and the world.

A particularly absorbing video shows the Tacoma, Wash., Narrows suspension bridge begin a "wave" of twisting, swaying movement through the roadway portion of the bridge and shake itself apart, flinging a car into the Pugent Sound.

It's an example of when physics meets bad engineering work, and it also makes a viewer leery of traveling over long bridges.

"When a wave like that gets started, there's really no way to stop it. It'll keep going back and forth, whipping through a structure like a suspension bridge or a wire until it snaps ... that's what happened with the (Tacoma) bridge," Greenhouse said.

Greenhouse hopes the exhibit will help boost the museum's attendance, which tops about 80,000 a year presently.


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