Fort Hawkins opens new visitors center | News
Considered the birthplace of Macon, Fort Hawkins has a rich history.
Friday, the Fort Hawkins Commission officially opened the doors to its new visitors center in a ribbon cutting ceremony.
It was built using about $530,000 of SPLOST money.
Marty Willett, Fort Hawkins Project Coordinator, has been involved with the site since 1985.
He says the project is important to him, because it shines a light on a time in history that many might not know about.
"It's been so overlooked," says Willett, "And so misunderstood, and so nearly forgotten."
He says this is not just a local lack of recognition, but a national one.
"Fort Hawkins has a great early American History. Macon and Middle Georgia should be so proud that we've got a frontier history here," says Willett.
Fort Hawkins was established in 1806 by Thomas Jefferson. It was known as the "Pentagon of the South" during the War of 1812. It had a strategic location because it was high up on the hill, close to Native American Territory, and located on the first federal road.
During the War of 1812, the village was called Fort Hawkins. In 1819, as the army moved out, it became Newtown. A few years later, the village became a city and was officially dubbed Macon.
Willett says one of the interesting facets of Fort Hawkins history is that it had no paperwork on record.
"We believe that when the British burned the capital in the War of 1812, they burned our records," he explains. "This U.S. Army fort and factory has none."
This meant they had to dig a little deeper.
Now, the center showcases thousands of archaeological artifacts, and over 40,000 have been uncovered on the site.
Willett along with the other members of the Fort Hawkins Commission work completely voluntarily.
"The passion comes from the fact that this place needs to be better appreciated," he says.
Willett hopes the visitors center marks a new chapter in Fort Hawkins history.
The visitors center will be open free to the public Saturday, August 30th, Sunday, the 31st, and on Labor Day.