A country house is moving to the city. Thanks to an agreement executed on April 30, the historic James Hyde Porter house will be moved from its current location on Allen Road to the Tucker Road entrance on the campus of Wesleyan College.
One year ago, the trustees of Porterfield Baptist Church reluctantly voted to demolish the historically significant 1927 James Hyde Porter House on Allen Road. The church was built around the house after Mr. Porter’s death. Porterfield Baptist used and maintained the French-chateau-inspired Normandy-style home until a 2008 storm damaged the roof and forced the church to vacate the building.
Without funds to complete the restoration, demolition seemed to be the only option to keep the church campus safe. Fortunately, a partnership among Wesleyan College, Historic Macon Foundation, and the James Hyde Porter Charitable Trust is set to move the house to Wesleyan’s campus and fully restore the building.
According to Doug MacMillan, Wesleyan College’s Vice President for Institutional Development, “Wesleyan is positively thrilled about being able to help move, restore, and preserve James Hyde Porter’s country home. Doing so strengthens our ability to tell the story of one of Wesleyan’s greatest supporters. In addition, we are returning an important middle Georgia landmark to a place of prominence. We are grateful for our partnership with the James Hyde Porter Charitable Trust and Historic Macon, and we look forward to future projects that will strengthen our shared service to the city of Macon.”
Porter Trust Committee Member Jane Miller said, “It is so exciting to partner with Wesleyan College in the moving and restoration of my great, great uncle's home. The building will provide an opportunity for people to learn about James Hyde Porter, a visionary whose legacy continues to enrich the entire community of Macon.” Known as one of Wesleyan’s greatest benefactors, James Hyde Porter was a trustee of the College for many years. His generosity has influenced the lives of generations of Wesleyannes through the many projects and numerous good works he funded at Wesleyan.
Emphasizing the importance of this agreement, Historic Macon Executive Director Josh Rogers continued, “The Porter House is unique in all of Middle Georgia and is one of W. Elliott Dunwody’s most unusual and attractive commissions.” Several of the buildings on the Wesleyan campus are also the works of W. Elliott Dunwody, including the Porter Fine Arts Building, Huckabee Hall, the Jones and Hightower residence halls, the Murphey Art Building, and the Willet Library.
This fall, the house will be placed on steel rails and moved by truck to its new location. The move and the restoration of the house are being funded by a grant from the Porter Trust to Wesleyan College. Wesleyan will furnish the house and install a significant memorial to Porter in recognition of his support for Wesleyan in life and afterwards. A public ceremony will be held to commemorate the restoration of the house as soon as the project is complete.
“Saving this house is major win for historic preservation efforts,” Rogers concluded.
About the James Hyde Porter Testamentary Trust Managed by Stephens Lamb, Senior Vice President of Private Wealth Management with SunTrust Bank, the Porter Trust was created in 1949 by the estate of prominent citizen and Macon philanthropist James Hyde Porter and supports various charitable organizations in Bibb and Newton counties that provide human services, education, cultural programming and artistic value. During the past 25 years alone, the Trust has granted more than $15 million to support the work of over 150 organizations.
About Historic Macon Foundation Historic Macon Foundation is a nonprofit organization in Macon, Ga., created by the merger of the Middle Georgia Historical Society and the Macon Heritage Foundation in 2003. Historic Macon’s mission is to revitalize the community by preserving architecture and sharing history. The organization advocates for Macon’s historic and architectural heritage, facilitates preservation and revitalization efforts in the community and maintains and promotes the Sidney Lanier Cottage. Historic Macon’s offices are located in the Sidney Lanier Cottage at 935 High St., Macon, GA 31201. For more information, visit www.historicmacon.org or call 478/742-5084.