The Napier Heights Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on August 6, 2020. The nomination was sponsored by the Historic Macon Foundation, and consultant Victoria Hertwig prepared nomination materials.
The Napier Heights Historic District is a largely residential area located approximately two miles west of downtown Macon. The district is roughly bounded by Interstate 75 to the east, various residential streets to the south and north, and by historic properties directly west of Brentwood Avenue to the west.
The Napier Heights Historic District comprises several neighborhoods, platted and developed in a largely gridded pattern from 1887 through the early 1940s in response to population growth, growing demand for homes outside the urban core, and improved modes of transportation. The subdivisions within the Napier Heights Historic District include Huguenin Heights in the northeast portion of the district; Napier Heights East and Napier Heights West on the east and west of Pio Nono Avenue, respectively; Gray Commons in the southernmost portion of the district; Montpelier South, just north of Gray Commons; Sheridan Tract, in the east central portion of the district; and Cherokee Gardens in the west central portion of the district.
With the introduction of the electric streetcar in Macon in 1889, which replaced the horse-drawn streetcars introduced in 1871, further suburbanization to sparsely developed areas outside of the city core became more feasible and popular. Development of the Huguenin Heights subdivision began in 1887 during the use of the horse-drawn streetcar, but by the time the Napier Heights Historic District expanded significantly with the Napier Heights East and West subdivisions platted in 1895, Napier and Montpelier Avenues had active streetcar lines, and Macon in general had twenty miles of electric streetcar lines. This development continued through the 1940s aided by the streetcar and later the automobile. The Napier Heights Historic District is significant at the local level in the area of community planning and development under Criterion A as a good, representative example of a contiguous area of suburbs that were platted and developed in Georgia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, first demonstrating characteristics of the streetcar suburb and later evolving to reflect the influence of the automobile on suburban development. The physical characteristics of the neighborhoods within the district, as well as the patchwork pattern by which they developed, mimic national residential building patterns affected by fluctuating economic conditions between the 1920s through the 1960s. The effect of factors that influenced development of the district, such as new transportation modes, changing cultural values, evolving real estate sales and marketing practices, and new construction methods are evident today.
The district is also locally significant in the area of architecture under Criterion C for its intact collection of significant architectural residential types and styles, as identified in Georgia’s Living Places: Historic Houses in Their Landscaped Settings, a statewide context. Houses in the district are good examples of the interpretation of these house types and styles by builders for moderate to upper middle-class housing in Macon. House types include a variety of cottages (gabled-wing, Georgian, Queen Anne, pyramid, side-gabled, English) as well as the Georgian house, shotgun, bungalow, American Small House, and Ranch house. Architectural styles present in the district include Queen Anne, Folk Victorian, English Vernacular Revival, Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Spanish Colonial Revival, and Dutch Colonial Revival. Additionally, the district is significant for its association with prominent Macon architects, including Claude W. Shelverton, William F. Oliphant, W. Elliott Dunwody, Jr., Alexander Blair, and Ellamae Ellis League.
The National Register of Historic Places is our country's official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts worthy of preservation. The National Register provides formal recognition of a property's architectural, historical, or archaeological significance. It also identifies historic properties for planning purposes and ensures that these properties will be considered in the planning of state or federally assisted projects. National Register listing encourages preservation of historic properties through public awareness, federal and state tax incentives, and grants. Listing in the National Register does not place obligations or restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property.
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