The Massee | c. 1920s photo of The Massee Apartments

Established 1924, with the sophisticated spirit of the New South

In the early 1920's, William Jordan Massee Sr and Oliver Jerome Massee commissioned architect Neel Reid to design a new apartment hotel for 347 College Street in Macon, Georgia.  The result was an impressive building that reflected the sophisticated and expansive spirit of the New South.

 

William Jordan Massee Senior was an exuberant businessman and entrepreneur, with a bigger-than-life personality and extroverted nature.  In addition to building The Massee apartments, he owned a railway, a brickworks and other Macon businesses throughout his life.

 

Many people believed that Mr. Masse Sr inspired Big Daddy, the plantation owner in Tennessee Williams' play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Massee Sr was a friend of the playwright, and according to Lyle Leverich (author of Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams), he had been dubbed "Big Daddy" by his granddaughter and often used the expression "nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof."

 

As for The Massee's architect, "(f)or several generations Neel Reid was the best-known residential architect in Atlanta, Georgia.   His houses enjoyed a pedigree, level of prestige, and quality that made them the most sought after in the city.  Owning a Neel Reid house, with its refinement of style, was thought to be a mark of taste and social acceptability. 1 "

 

Having grown up in Macon, Reid was no stranger to the place, and The Massee Apartments are an outstanding example of his work in this fine city.

The Massee is right at home in College Hill, where Macon’s upper class citizens constructed a number of landmark houses.  These houses are very large and generally date from the 19th century; many are the work of prominent Macon architects.

 

"Reid (and his partners in Hentz and Adler) founded the Georgia school of classicists after study at Columbia University and abroad. Many sources influenced Reid’s architecture, and his interior and garden designs. His travel diary, sketchbooks and scrapbooks, and extensive library reflect this. His early-twentieth-century interest in historic preservation and contextual design, in architectural education and professional standards of practice inspired others long after his tragic early death of a brain tumor in 1926. 2 "

Suggested reading...

Accepted Fables
Autobiography by the son of William Jordan Massee Senior.

 

Accepted fables

Jordan Massee ; compiled and edited by Richard Jay Hutto.

Published 2005 by Henchard Press in Macon, GA .

J. Neel Reid : Architect
Biography giving new life to Reid’s rich legacy, keeping his influence fresh in this new century.

 

J.Neel Reid Architect

Of Hentz, Reid & Adler & the Georgia School of Classicists

Published October 1997 by Golden Coast Publishing Company.

1

 

References...

(1) Craig, Robert M. "Neel Reid (1885-1926)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 30 April 2013. Web. 03 November 2013.

(2) The Georgia Trust.  "The J, Neel Reid Prize." The Georgia Trust. Web. 03 November 2013.