One of Macon’s most historic homes, once used by the Allman Brothers Band for their debut album photo cover, is now owned by Mercer University, thanks to the generosity of a Savannah family with close ties to Mercer. The Bell House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was gifted to the University to benefit its School of Engineering by Mercer Trustee Gus Bell, of Savannah, and his family in memory of his wife, Amanda Hancock Morris Bell.
From Left to Right: Gus Bell, his daughter, Adair Woods, and son, Holmes Bell, all of Savannah at the dedication of The Bell House in Macon to Mercer University in honor of Amanda Bell.
The Bell family chose to dedicate the house to Amanda Bell – wife, mother and grandmother – who was very involved in Independent Presbyterian Church. The house was dedicated as a tribute to her life and the lives of family members and friends whom she touched.
In a dedication ceremony held April 10 at the home, which was built in 1855, Mercer President William D. Underwood cited the many community organizations in which the Bell family has made vast contributions.
“I think the world of Mercer,” said Gus Bell, a member of the Mercer Board of Trustees. He said, among many reasons, he wanted to make the gift to Mercer for the Engineering School where his son, Holmes, received his degree in 2001.
The original house was built in 1855 in the Victorian Style by Nathan Beall, son of Robert Augustus Beall. Robert Augustus Beall was elected mayor Macon in 1835. In the early 1900s, drastic changes were made in the façade by renovating the exterior to the Greek Revival style with 18 Corinthian columns.
The house was operated for about 20 years as Beall’s 1860 restaurant until it closed in the 1990s. The Bell Family purchased the home in 2001 and meticulously renovated the interior of the house to serve as offices for a variety of professional businesses.
Gus Bell serves as chairman of Savannah-based Hussey, Gay, Bell & DeYoung, The Bell Companies, an ENR Top 500 engineering and architectural firm with offices in Georgia and South Carolina as well as Saudi Arabia. In addition to serving on the Memorial Health University Medical Center’s Board of Directors in Savannah, Bell was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to sit on the Georgia Water Council. He also is a past member of the Georgia Power Board and the Georgia State Chamber of Commerce.
Holmes Bell is CEO of Hussey, Gay, Bell & DeYoung. Like his father in previous years, he serves on the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Board. He also serves on the Board of the Savannah Music Festival and is a member of the Leadership of Georgia Class of 2008.
Underwood said the house will further Mercer’s commitment to students receiving an engineering education.