Otis Redding Foundation and other things Macon ……

February 5th we continued touring Macon, which has a rich and varied music heritage. Phil Walden founded the South’s premier R&B booking and talent agency and Capricorn Records in the 60s. Macon is the home of Little Richard Penniman, Otis Redding and where James Brown, The Allman Brothers and many others congregated to make some wonderful music and showcase their talents.

Historical areas to visit include: The Tic Toc Room, Douglass Theater, Red Lamp Lounge, The Rookery, Elizabeth Reed Music Hall, Hippie Crash Pad, and the “At Filmore East.” So much history, so much music, and so much love in this city.

We visited the Otis Redding Foundation, which is run by his wife, kids, and grands. We spoke at length with Justin Andrews, Otis’ grandson and learned a lot about how they are helping youth realize their potential. The mission of the foundation is: “Empower, enrich and motivate youth through education in music and the arts.” They are doing a good job. I bought the Collectors CD of his music and Justin threw in a Dream CD as a gift. I invite you to check out their works at https://www.otisreddingfoundation.org/, you will be glad you did. Mr. Redding’s legacy carries on!

We also grabbed a bite to eat at The Rookery on Cherry Street. The Rookery was founded in 1976 and is a local favorite. They have signature sandwiches (you get a choice of meat) with names like “the Jimmy Carter Burger,” with peanut butter and jelly, “the Allman Burger,” with Swiss cheese and mushrooms. It was a very good experience and the food, service and atmosphere was worth the walk. More information here: https://www.rookerymacon.com/

To close out our day we visited Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church. It is a Neo-Gothic design built in 1841. The towers are the tallest twin towers in Macon and measure 200 ft to the tip. The architecture is exquisite. If you love architecture and church history this is a must see.

This was our last day in Macon, the next morning we moved on to Montezuma, Georgia. The weather and the travel have been good and I can’t say enough about the people of Macon, who made us feel so welcome. I highly recommend a trip to Macon to visit the sights, meet the people, and enjoy the richness of it’s history. You will be glad that you did.

Tubman Museum

Our journey continues. February 5th on to the Tubman Museum on Cherry Street. The museum is a lovely building and the staff was excellent. The Tubman Museum is the largest museum in the nation dedicated to educating people about the Art, History and Culture of African Americans. There were several exhibits of artists and inventions. We covered the museum in about 4 hours. The first floor had an array of textile art by Winnie McQueen. The pieces were outstanding and each panel told a story. The following are examples of her work.

Artifacts from Jim Crow were also on the first floor. Some of these images gave me visceral feelings as I do remember this time even though I was a small child. I thought, “This isn’t right.” One memory I have is as a child of around 6 years old. We were “pickin’ cotten” and granddaddy had hired our local crew. They brought along a little girl about my age and we hit it off immediately. We decided that I would teach her to ride my bike. A neighbor stopped by and talked to my dad. Shortly after I received a switching and was told I was never to play with the girl again. I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now. It made a lasting impression. Following pictures are some of those artifacts.

Other artifacts from the first floor:

The second floor had several eclectic art exhibits and a tribute to Harriet Tubman. I was really moved by the work of Steve R Allen. Beautiful, bold, work. He never received formal training but has an amazing gift. Examples of his work follows:

A random sampling of art work follows:

Little Richard’s piano. The plaque says, “Do not play Little Richard’s piano. He will KNOW!” Loved that.

Harriet Tubman:

The poster has amazing symbolism of the open hands and the bird flying bird. Representing freedom!

When we finished the museum we went down to the gift shop. We were told that the artist Steve R Allen had arrived and was up in his exhibit. We promptly went up and met a most talented man. We engaged in a lengthy discussion of his works, his childhood in Raleigh, NC and also met his brother who was just beginning to paint at 66 years of age. What a bonus to our day. Lovely!

I highly recommend making a journey to visit this museum. It’s well worth it. Entry is just $8/person. Go!

Ocmulgee National Monument / Hay House

February 4th day trip to Ocmulgee memorial to the peoples of antiquity. 17,000 year record of human life on the Macon Plateau. This place felt sacred and the artifacts and mounds of these people were breathtaking. This is a 702 acre site with Temple, ceremonial earth lodge, and funeral mounds. Most artifacts are from the years 900-1200.

These people were known as Creeks and are from the Mississippian period. We spent hours exploring these wonderful artifacts.

Me at the entrance to the Ceremonial Earth Lodge Mound.

View of Ceremonial Earth Lodge

Inside Ceremonial Lodge. The floor is 1000 years old.
Chieftains seat inside ceremonial lodge. Eagle effigy carved in floor in front. Once a year the sun shines through the door and highlighted where the chief sat. Truly this meant that he was THE Chief!
Ray going up to the Temple Mound.
Ray on steps to the Temple Mound.
View of Macon from the Temple Mound.
Enjoying the weather and the top of the Temple Mound.
The funeral mound with more than 100 graves. Much of this mound was lost when the railway went through in the 1830s.

After hours learning about human history, we moved on to tour the Hay House historic site in Macon. They Hay House is a beautiful 17,000 square foot marvel, built from 1855 to 1859 in the Italian Renaissance Revival Style, with all the modern conveniences. It was built by William Butler Johnston. He also became the keeper of the Confederate Treasury. There are rumors that Confederate gold is hidden in the walls and secret places of this home. To date, no one has found it. Johnston married at the age of 40 and took his bride on a 3 year honeymoon (called a grand tour) in Europe. The design for the house and the furnishings came from those travels.

Back of Hay House 1.
Back of Hay House 2.
Bryon Stained Glass in Stairwell.

Formal Dining Room.
Pantry Door from dining room.

Ball Room.
Double Living Room.
Sitting Room.

This ended our day. One of the takeaways from our two days in Macon: The people are the some of the most friendly and gracious that I have encountered in a very long time. Looking forward to what our tours tomorrow will bring.