Douglass House torn down due to "structural damage"

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An excavator tore through the bricks of 872 Pine Street. The shell of a home belonged to Charles Douglass, a wealthy African-American businessman and community leader.

Douglass, born in 1870 to former slaves, made his fortune in Macon from humble beginnings. He grew up in a one room house built by his father and began a bicycle rental and repair business in 1898.

Following a stint as director of the Georgia Loan and Savings company in 1901, Douglass got his start in entertainment with his organization of the Florida Blossom Minstrels and Comedy Company in 1907. The crafty businessman took advantage of the Theatre Operators Booking Agency, a network of over 40 theatres which provided African American performers with a major source of employment.

Douglass built his theater in 1921 and it would serve a major source of entertainment for decades. Ida Cox, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Little Richard and James Brown graced theatergoers.

Because of this rich history, the Macon-Bibb Planning and Zoning Commission voted against demolition by a 3-2 margin last month. However, structural damage to the property posed safety risks that allowed for destruction despite the vote.  Lou Patel, owner of the property, plans to use newly cleared lot to provide more space for a planned Dunkin’ Donuts shop.

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