Created: Wed, 06 Aug 2014 06:43:00 EST
Updated: Wed, 06 Aug 2014 07:41:56 EST
A piece of Downtown Macon's underground history is revealed Wednesday as construction continues on the Second Street Corridor Project.
Crews are smashing sidewalks and uncovering a basement stretching under Second and Cherry sreets. It was once part of the Clisby building which was built in 1857 by Joseph Clisby, owner and editor of the Macon Telegraph. Today, Clisby’s great granddaughter, Louise Barfield owns the building.
“The area below the sidewalk was excavated by my grandfather, Joseph Ward Clisby, Joseph Clisby's son, who was granted permission from the city of Macon more than 100 years ago for the development of retail space,” she wrote in an email to WGXA-TV.
Clisby was allowed to develop and lease the space but the City of Macon maintained ownership. Over the years, various businesses have occupied the space ten feet below the sidewalk that has at least five rooms and plumbing for two bathrooms.
Currently a fire place is built in one corner while sixties inspired art and words are on the walls, likely from the days the space was used as a bar, general contractor Chris Sheridan said.
Sheridan’s company, Sheridan Construction Company, is opening the lower level in order for Georgia Power to place one of three vaults on Second St. It's part of the Second Street Corridor project to upgrade the current electrical system to support growth of Downtown Macon.
Once the project is complete, Sheridan’s crew will fill the basement with gravel.
“Of course, I was terribly upset to have to let it go, but it did not belong to me,” Barfield wrote to the station. “The future of Second Street and Downtown Macon is very exciting, and I'm extremely happy to be a part of it.”
Josh Rogers of non-profit organization NewTown Macon said there are other buildings that have extended basements under the sidewalk and even the street.
“One thing that terrifies me is to see people driving on the sidewalks because everyone just assumes that the concrete is sitting on earth and almost every case it’s suspended over an open basement," he said.
Rogers adds these basements are a bit of a mystery but allowed many owners to store mechanical equipment and coal to heat furnaces years ago.