Tour Stop #8: Barfield Lofts
596 Cherry Street
596 Cherry Street Before Renovation
Do you recognize this building? It has been vacant for more than a decade despite its prominent location and large windows offering breathtaking views. This charming three story gem recently underwent a complete historic rehabilitation that can certainly be coined as a labor of love. NewTown Macon and local developer, Ryan Griffith, entered into a joint venture and worked closely to revive this prominent corner of downtown. This building is an example of our mission in action -it adds 4 loft units to the market to help meet the surging demand for downtown loft housing and converts a once vacant storefront into a potential retail or restaurant space in one of our target blocks.
Don’t believe us, come see for yourself! This project is open for tours, including a loft on the third story with some of the best views in the building.
596 Cherry St. is represented in the 1860 City Macon Directory, the earliest directory available for the area, as the location of Joseph Clisby’s Georgia Telegraph newspaper. Clisby, born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1818, purchased the Georgia Telegraph in 1855. As the owner of the newspaper, Clisby served as editor and transitioned the paper from a weekly periodical to a daily paper in 1860. Health issues resulted in Clisby selling the paper in 1864 to William A. Reid, although he returned as editor in 1868 and served in that capacity until 1881. Clisby died in 1885. 596 Cherry Street served as the location of the various incarnations of the paper, whose name changes included the Daily Telegraph, the Macon Telegraph, and the Telegraph and Messenger, from at least 1860 to around 1880.
The building’s next occupant was Jacob H. Hertz’s clothing and furnishing store and his clothing manufacturing company, the Eagle Shirt Factory. These businesses were located at the building from 1884 to 1895, although Clisby, and later his family, appear to still own the building during this period. Clisby’s son, Joseph W. Clisby, operated a series of shoe stores at the building from 1896 to around 1915; from 1896 to 1903, the shoe store was owned by the partnership of Clisby and William McKay Jr. before Clisby struck out on his own. By 1917 the building was being utilized by the Bibb National Bank of Macon before being used again as a shoe store owned by Thomas DeWitt McAn in 1927.
McAn’s shoe store, called Thom McAn, operated there from 1927 to 1932 before being joined by Louis Kell’s Marilyn Slipper Shop. McAn’s shoe store operated there until at least 1950, while the Kell’s shoe store remained until around 1960. By 1965 the building was occupied by Walters Jewel Box, a jewelry store, and Pearle Vision Center, an optician’s office and glasses store. Around this period the windows on the first floor of the side elevation were blocked in to install a billboard for Pearle Vision on the side of the building. The building was used by various jewelry stores in one space and opticians/optometrists/optical goods stores in the other space until 2000. The building has been vacant since at least 2003.
The rear commercial space appears to have been built around 1905, when cobbler John Schelling is listed in that year’s directory as operating his business there. The space was utilized by a variety of commercial occupants throughout its history: cobblers, real estate and insurance offices, a jewelry shop, a soda stand, and a photography studio, to name a few.The space appears to have been largely vacant from the 1960s until today, with the exception of a temporary art studio in the mid-1990s.
400 block of Cherry Street, 1948, Thad E. Murphey Collection.