January 18, 2014

Little Richard’s boyhood home in to be moved


— Work should begin soon on moving the boyhood home of rock ‘n’ roll singer Little Richard and turning it into a community center, according to the project’s leader.

The house at 1540 Fifth Ave., where young Richard Penniman lived after he was born in Macon in 1932, has been fenced in and had its roof wrapped in plastic to prepare for the four-block move to a new park on the opposite side of Interstate 75. The relocation work should be underway in the next two months, said Clinton Ford, the project’s manager for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“Everything’s just moving along according to the schedule,” Ford told the Telegraph of Macon.

Penniman, now 81, became famous under the name Little Richard. Hits such as the 1955 single “Tutti Frutti” earned him a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His boyhood home is among 27 houses in Macon’s Pleasant Hill neighborhood that the state DOT plans to relocate to make way for expanding the interchange where I-75 meets Interstate 16 to Savannah.

Penniman’s house will be moved to a new park on Craft street. After renovations are finished, the home will be turned over to the Macon-Bibb County government for use as a community resource center. Ford said design work on the park is “probably 90 percent complete.”

The Pleasant Hill neighborhood was divided decades ago by construction of 1-75. State officials are planning $10 million in improvements as part of the current expansion project.

A second park will be added and named for Jefferson Long, a Pleasant Hill resident who became Georgia’s first black congressman. Plans also call for replacing a chain-link fence in the neighborhood with solid sound and sight buffers, plus an improved pedestrian bridge spanning the interstate, said Jeff Dickerson of Enviro-Resolution, a private firm working with the state on the project.