Macon has a proud history, and many examples of that history remain in Macon for adventurous students to see and explore. So much can be learned about Macon and about our beautiful city’s past.
The Sidney Lanier Cottage is a great place with a fascinating history, making it the perfect place to visit. It is located at 935 High Street and is one of the oldest houses in Macon.
Macon became a city in 1823 and the house was built in 1840. What makes the house famous, however, is the fact that Sidney Lanier, the famous poet, was born there in 1842.
Sidney Lanier was born in February in the cottage rented by his grandfather. His family was from Griffin, Georgia, but moved here to give birth to Lanier because better medical facilities existed here.
A graduate of Oglethorpe University, Lanier served in the Confederate States Army in the 2nd Georgia Battalion. He became a prisoner of war at Lookout Point, Md. until he was released and walked home to Macon.
At the age of 25, he wrote his only novel, “Tiger Lilies.” His first book of poems was published in 1877 when he was 35 years old.
From 1878-1879, he was very productive in terms of writing. Some of his famous works include “Song of the Chattahoochee” and the “Marshes of Glynn,” both about Georgia bodies of water.
He eventually caught tuberculosis and it resulted in his early death in Lynn, N.C. in 1881 as he was writing poetry.
The cottage itself had its own interesting journey. After Lanier and his family left the house, it was sold to Mrs. O.H. McAfee who remodeled the house to make the building into a tea room.
It became a museum in 1975 with a donation from Lanier’s grandson. Then the house itself was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a National Music Landmark in 1976. In 2004 it was listed as a National Poetry Landmark.
Students are welcome to visit the Sidney Lanier Cottage during its open hours. The ticket costs for students is only $3 and the Cottage is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The cottage is more than just a museum, however, and it has some fun and interesting activities in the works.
“The Lanier Center has a regular schedule of literary events including Sidney’s Salons which feature authors and poets throughout the year,” stated Janis Haley, Director of Development for the Historic Macon Foundation.
“We are proud to have featured many of Mercer’s outstanding faculty – especially from the Southern Studies department. Students are always welcome to be a part of this great tradition! Right now we are planning a Winter Solstice Poetry reading at the Cottage on Dec. 22. It will be great fun,” Haley explained.
So go down to High Street and see what you can learn about Macon and about Sidney Lanier. Or go for a poetry event. It is a great way to experience the history and culture of Macon.