The Waterworks: A weird and wonderful house in Macon
Carey Pickard and Chris Howard describe their historic home as “decaying grandeur.
“I don’t mind the crumbling bricks. We actually haven’t painted any of the walls in the 21 years that we’ve been here,” Pickard says. “Most of our things evoke memories that either belong to family members, or they were picked up on trips abroad.”
The home is decorated warm and collected. Trinkets and treasures are everywhere you look but everything has its place.
“My sister says I’m a magpie, “which may be true,” Carey Pickard says smiling. “We do like silver, but a lot of our art is connected to artists that we’ve known as friends who are active artists. A lot of I would say most of the furniture belongs to now gone family members. So it’s, there’s a sense of remembrance. And the house is really rich with memories for both of us.”
The structure was built in the mid-19th century as the waterworks for the city of Macon. In a news article from 1874, the building was mentioned as “an old moss-covered building. By the early 20th century, it was abandoned until it became an antique shop in 1934 where people would buy wedding presents and birthday gifts.
“It became a home for us in 2001,” Pickard says. He and Chris Howard are the first people to live in the structure and call it home.
“We’ve had people actually open the door, not realizing it was a house, and start turning things over in here,” Chris Howard laughs.
Howard and Pickard put a lot of work into turning the brick structure into a home.
Most of their renovations happened in what had been storage for the antique store. They added plumbing and turned the storage area into a galley kitchen, half bath, full bath, and bedroom.
The building is only 1,600 square feet, with more than half of that space in the living room.
“The living room is over 42 feet long by 21 feet wide with 14-foot ceilings,” Pickard says. “So it’s a small house with a giant entertaining space, and we do like to entertain.”
They have hosted seven weddings and countless fundraisers.
“I think it’s a real comfortable place. There’s nothing here that we don’t use. I put my feet up on the furniture every night. Every single thing that you can see in this house is used to either entertain ourselves or entertain others. There’s nothing precious,” Pickard says.
Their most exciting find? A deep 30’x30’ cistern in the backyard that had at one time held the city of Macon’s water supply. They excavated a few feet down and now the area is the hardscape for their garden, which is often included on garden tours.
The history and glamour of the past is present throughout the home.
“I say, as a recovering museum director, it’s really not a museum,” Pickard says. “It’s a hands-on living house.”
This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with the Macon Newsroom.