Georgia's Temporary Capitol Building
The building that houses Macon's City Hall was constructed in 1837 as headquarters for the Monroe Railroad and Banking Company. In 1845, the Greek Revival temple-style building was converted into Macon's first "fire-proof" cotton warehouse. It was one of the largest such facilities in the state, capable of accommodating 6,000 bales of cotton. The City of Macon acquired the building in 1860 and, after extensive renovation, made it the seat of city government in early 1861. Flanking wings were added to the original structure in 1904, and further alterations were made later in the twentieth century.
As Federal armies poured into northwest Georgia in September 1863, Macon increasingly became a Confederate hospital center. Between then and November 1864, City Hall was pressed into service, becoming known temporarily as "City Hall Hospital." Housing approximately 150 casualties from the fighting at Chickamauga, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, and especially from the battles around Atlanta, it included a dispensary and other offices on the first floor, with patients in five wards spread over the first and second floors.
Then as Union Major General William T. Sherman's forces moved on the Georgia capital of Milledgeville in mid-November 1864, Governor Joseph E. Brown and the General Assembly removed to Macon. After asking that patients be transferred to other facilities, Macon's Mayor Stephen Collins was able to offer City Hall as a temporary State Capitol Building. He described it as having "two large rooms suitable for the Legislature and five smaller rooms for offices, besides a large enclosed and covered space for store room." Governor Brown accepted, and Georgia's last legislative session under Confederate authority was held here from February 16 to March 11, 1865. The March term of the Georgia Supreme Court was also conducted here.
As the forces of Union Major General James H. Wilson entered Macon on April 20, 1865, a Confederate sentry guarding City Hall was shot and killed on the porch by members of the 17th Indiana Mounted Infantry. Later that night, Confederate Major General Howell Cobb and four subordinates, Major General Gustavus W. Smith, and Brigadier Generals William W. Mackall, Hugh Mercer and Felix Robertson, surrendered unconditionally to Wilson at this site.
(Sidebar): Along one side of this intersection at First and Poplar Streets is a monument erected in 1911 to honor the women of the Confederacy. Its figures represent women's contributions to the war effort in the areas of sewing, nursing and domestic service. And fronting Civic Square on First Street is the 1884 Gothic Revival building which housed the Macon Volunteer Armory. The Volunteers were Macon's first "home guards", or militia unit, organized in 1825. Their dedicated service in defense of the Confederacy is commemorated in the terra cotta masks of Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J (Stonewall) Jackson in their places of honor above the Armory's central doorway.