The Black Broadway of the South
Located in the heart of Georgia, Macon is a city of 160,000 that is well known for its music heritage. Associated with a number of musicians, including the Allman Brothers Band, Otis Redding, Little Richard and James Brown, Macon was also a hub for Southern rock.
Long known as Broadway and 5th Streets, Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard is a corridor that was once filled with a large collection of theaters, hotels, taverns, restaurants and juke joints catering to the city’s Chitlin Circuit and Southern Rock scenes. As early as the 1930s, it was considered to be a contemporary to Beale Street in Memphis, Auburn Avenue in Atlanta and Ashley Street in Jacksonville.
Featuring a collection of museums, cultural heritage destinations and a mix of supporting uses within a pedestrian scale setting, the corridor can serve as an example for communities seeking to revitalize cultural heritage districts of their own. Here is a virtual tour of a part of Macon that many call the Black Broadway of the South.
Gateway Plaza at 300 Mulberry Street is a six-story, 114,156 square foot office building. Completed in 2004, it occupies the former Richmond Hotel and Hotel Dinkler sites on Broadway.
The Capital City Bank at 325 5th Street.
The 43,000-square-foot Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is the country’s largest state sports museum.
Tubman Museum of African-American Art, History and Culture The 49,000-square-foot Tubman African American Museum is located across the street from the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and Macon Terminal Station.
The Macon Terminal (right) is a Beaux Arts style railroad station that was completed in 1916. It was designed by architect Alfred Felheimer, who also designed New York’s Grand Central Terminal, Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, and Buffalo’s Central Terminal. At its height, the station handled as many as 100 trains each day. Passenger rail service at the Macon Terminal came to an end in 1975. Today, the structure is managed by the Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority and used as a transportation center, offices and event space.
The Neoclassical Poplar Street railroad overpass was erected in 1916 as a part of the Terminal Station designed by architect Alfred Fellheimer. It is a contributing resource to the Macon Railroad Industrial Historic District that was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
Completed in 1921, the Douglass Theatre was a popular Chitlin Circuit venue built by Charles Henry Douglass, Macon, GA’s first Black millionaire. Artist and musicians that performed here include Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, James Brown, Otis Redding and Duke Ellington.
The Lofts at 401 Cherry are located in the Bibb Building. The Bibb Building was completed in 1918.
Cherry Street extends from the Macon Terminal and a cluster of cultural attractions (shown above) through to the heart of Macon’s 19th century core. Characterized by wide sidewalks and ample on-street parking, it has served as the city’s traditional main retail corridor.
Looking south along Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The Sterchi & Kessler Lofts building at 382 Cherry Street, is located on the corner. The five story building was originally the J.P Allen & Company Department Store.
Ann’s Tic Toc Lounge, a restaurant and nightclub that was one of Macon’s first openly gay bars, once operated in this building. Little Richard Penniman often performed at this venue.