Discover Middle Georgia: Hay House
MACON, Georgia. (41NBC/WMGT) – Coleman Hill in downtown Macon is known for its scenic view of the city, but it also boasts historical homes with exquisite architecture.
The Hay House was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973 for its architectural uniqueness and advanced technological amenities developed in the mid-nineteenth century.
“Hay House is something of a symbol of Macon,” said Jonathan Poston, Director of the Hay House.
At 18,000 square feet, Poston describes the home as one of Macon’s “oldest and grandest.”
While many Maconites know this museum as the “Hay House” three different families actually called it home.
The history of the home dates back to the 1850’s.
In 1851, Ann Clark Tracy, a well educated woman from a predominant family in Macon, married William Butler Johnson, a well established man who made his fortune from a variety of business and industries.
The two set off on a three year grand tour of Europe, where they admired European architecture in England, France and Italy.
Upon their return to Macon in 1854, the Johnston’s began construction of an Italian Renaissance Revival style home.
By 1860, the ‘Palace of the South’ was completed and consisted of three bathrooms with running water, a central heat system, call system and elaborate ventilation system.
The Johnston’s had two daughters, Mary Ellen and Caroline.
“Mary Ellen married the youngest judge in the state, Judge William Felton, and they inherited the house,” says Poston
The Felton’s passed away in 1926, leaving behind one son, William Felton Junior, who sold the house to Parks Lee Hay.
The Hay’s raised three of five children in the home and resided in the mansion up until the 1960’s following the death of Mr. & Mrs. Hays. The children passed ownership of the house over to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation in 1977.
In the late 1970’s, the Georgia Trust began a 40 year restoration of the home.
In the past two years, studies have been done to restore the upper level rooms.
One bedroom upstairs has been restored, while the hallway is currently being restored back to the Johnston period.
The museum offers tours of the house Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.
On October 30th, the Hay House will host a special “Legends & Lore” tour of the home recounting stories of supernatural experiences people have had in the mansion. The tour will also discuss the legends of the house – like tunnels that supposedly run to the river and lost confederate gold.