Historic Macon Foundation keeps Sidney Lanier’s legacy alive with literary event series

Arts / Article

The Sidney Lanier Cottage, a historic museum in Macon, Ga.

While many of us know Sidney Lanier as a poet, he lived a full life in such a short time. Lanier was born in Macon, Ga. in 1842. In addition to being an author and educator, he was a Confederate soldier, musician and lawyer. Although Lanier died at the age of 39, his accomplishments inspired people to name bodies of waters, schools and monuments in his honor. And in Macon, his birth home has been preserved, currently serving as a museum called the Sidney Lanier Cottage.

It’s amazing how well the landscape and interior decor of the cottage have been maintained. Inside the rooms, there are many personal belongings from Lanier’s family that make you feel as though you’ve traveled back in time. The Sidney Lanier Cottage is the headquarters for the Historic Macon Foundation, a Knight Arts grantee. One of Historic Macon’s ongoing programs is Sidney’s Salons, a series of readings that is currently focused on books exploring Macon’s past

The Sidney’s Salons series is a program of the Lanier Center for Literary Arts, which was formed to support well-known and emerging authors by hosting a regular series of book signings. Some of this year’s Sidney’s Salons have featured authors and storytellers Ed Grisamore, Sam Macfie and Wimberly Treadwell.

Book cover of  “Images of America: Macon” by Matt Jennings and Stephen Taylor.

Next month, there will be a book signing and author talk about “Images of America: Macon” by Matt Jennings and Stephen Taylor. Jennings and Taylor use text and photographs in the pages of their book to capture key moments from the past 200 years of Macon’s history. From the stories of the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds to the city’s music-making heritage, the authors create a timeline that highlights how Macon prospered with the slave trade and cotton industry, and what happened after the fall of both. The book goes on to focus on how Macon became an industrial hub of the South, in addition to an incubator for churches of many different denominations.

The Historic Macon Foundation has a mission to “revitalize the community by preserving architecture and sharing history.” The Sidney’s Salons series play a major role in bringing that mission to life. Each of the storytellers creates his or her own unique way of exploring Macon’s past. These events provide a platform for dialogue about sensitive situations on race and other social issues that are not always easily discussed. Therefore, the Sidney’s Salons produce an atmosphere to help the community heal the ills of Macon’s yesteryears. This method of learning about the past has a therapeutic role and helps the citizens of Macon unite to form creative ways to address issues that can often divide cities.

The room where Sidney’s Salons receptions are held.

The Sidney’s Salons event highlighting “Images of America: Macon” by Matt Jennings and Stephen Taylor will take place on September 8, starting at 5:30 p.m. with a reception. The author talk will commence at 6 p.m. and last for an hour. Admission is free to Historic Macon Foundation members, $5 for non-members and $3 for students.