By Lauren Deal
Macon Community News
The Cannonball House offers one of Macon’s most entertaining historical experiences, combining beautiful Greek Revival architecture, period furnishings, and fascinating stories of the past.
Built in 1853 for Judge Asa Holt, Macon architect Elam Alexander designed the home as a retirement residence for the judge and his wife at the time, Mary. Judge Holt held a large property near Louisville, a former capital of the state of Georgia, but he dedicated his later years to his “townhome” in Macon. After the death of his first wife, and his marriage to Nora Burck in 1862, the couple continued to reside in the house, with the exception of a brief period of refuge in Louisville following the attack on Macon.
During the Civil War, Macon was an important industrial and commercial center: the Ocmulgee River was deep enough and wide enough to allow boats to travel up from the Atlantic Ocean with goods meant to support the Confederate war effort in Atlanta and beyond. Macon also had an extensive railway system to transport goods out of the city to northern distribution points.
The wealth of knowledge shared by the staff at the Cannonball House is phenomenal. Tour guide Joel Whitehead tells stories that engage young and old alike, and his passion for history is contagious. The 45-minute tour is the right length to hold the interest of school-aged children as young as kindergarten, and although the house is filled with beautiful antiques, there is ample room to accommodate visitors without the fear of bumping into (and breaking) anything.
One of Joel’s best stories, and a highlight of the tour, is his rendition of the Battle of Dunlap’s Hill in 1864, when Union soldiers under the command of General George Stoneman fired across the Ocmulgee River into the city of Macon, striking Judge Holt’s house and earning it the moniker “the Cannonball House.”
Tours of the Cannonball House are available on Monday through Saturday, from 10 am to 3:30 pm, with the last tour beginning no later than 3:30 pm. In addition to their regular tour schedule, the Cannonball House offers special events throughout the year.
On Saturday, November 10, 2018, the Cannonball House will host Candlelight Apparitions from 5:00 pm through 9:00 pm, with 45-minute tours beginning each hour. The last tour begins at 9:00 pm. Visitors will get to view the home by the light of candles and lanterns as they travel from room to room. Costumed actors will tell the stories of Macon’s most prominent historical figures and their relationships to the Cannonball House.
“The cast will be wearing costumes that are as accurate to the period as possible. We will be covering history from the 1860s through the 1970s,” explains Jessie Whitehead, the Cannonball House Guest Services Coordinator.
Judge Asa Holt will be among the historical figures that will be brought to life at Candlelight Apparitions.
Campbell Tracy was a prominent Macon native, a nearby neighbor of Judge Holt, and a member of the Home Guard, a group of militiamen tasked with defending civilians on the home front. Tracy was among the volunteers who were working to protect Macon from General Stoneman’s assault at the time a projectile struck the home, and his portrayal during Candlelight Apparitions will include the story of what happened during the attack.
Wesleyan College was the first college in the world chartered to grant degrees to women, and in 1851, students at Wesleyan started the Adelphean Society, which was the first women’s sorority. Today, the sisterhood is known as Alpha Delta Pi. The Adelphean parlor from Wesleyan College has been recreated in the Cannonball House, complete with the original fireplace hearth, furnishings, memorabilia, and portraits of the founding members.
Among these founding members is Ella Pierce Turner, who will be portrayed during Candlelight Apparitions. Her father, George Pierce, was the first president of Wesleyan College and later became a president of Emory University in Atlanta. Macon’s Pierce Avenue was named in honor of Ella’s father to commemorate his contributions to the city.
Ella was a student at Wesleyan College when her friend, Eugenia Tucker Fitzgerald, wrote in her diary about her plans for the world’s first secret sisterhood society for college women.
Adelphean Minnie Bass Burden, another Wesleyan graduate whose father was also a president of Wesleyan College, will also make an appearance at Candlelight Apparitions. On display at the Cannonball House is a diamond-shaped silver cake basket she received as a gift for her wedding in 1880, which was donated to the restored Adelphean Parlor.
After each tour, there will be an opportunity for visitors to enjoy light refreshments and meet some of the cast who will be portraying Macon’s past residents. Tickets for Candlelight Apparitions are $12.00 per person, through their telephone line at (478) 745-5982. Reservations are recommended, so call ahead to purchase tickets as they may sell out before November 10th. More information about Candlelight Apparitions is available online at the Cannonball’s House website, www.cannonballhouse.org.
If you’re unable to attend Candlelight Apparitions, you can tour the Cannonball House on Monday through Saturday, from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. Tickets are available at the cost of $8.00 for adults, $4.00 for children and college students with a school ID, and $6 for adults over age 65 and individuals with a military ID.
You can find more great programming at the Cannonball House on their website, at www.cannonballhouse.org, or on the Cannonball House Facebook page.