One of the most interesting houses to see when you are visiting Macon is the Johnston-Felton-Hay House. Built from 1855 to 1859 this Italian Renaissance Revival home was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
There are four levels and a three-story cupola making this 18,000 square foot house a true treasure from this time period. Not only was the workmanship outstanding but the technological amenities were unsurpassed in the mid-19th century. It had hot and cold running water, central heat, a speaker-tube system, in house kitchen and an elaborate ventilation system. Anyone that has been in a home from this time period realizes that all of these were just not available in the homes of the day. Ventilation was usually done with windows that opened, the kitchens were usually in a separate building and running hot and cold water were just a dream for most. The cupola serves as part of the ventilation system, acting as a chimney which helps to draw the hot air up and out of the house.
When you have a house of this age you would think that it had been home to a number of different families but in this case there were only two different families that lived in the Hay House over three generations. The majority of the museum’s furnishing date from when the Hay family lived in the home from 1926 – 1962. There are a few pieces that belonged to the Johnston family who lived in the house from 1860 – 1896. One of the most treasured pieces may well be the 1857 marble statue, “Ruth Gleaning,” by American expatriate sculptor Randolph Rogers.
The Johnstons, William and his wife Anne Clark, had the house built after they returned from an extended honeymoon in Europe. They had collected numerous items and fallen in love with the Italian architectural style so when they returned they wanted a home they could display their collection in and yet be as beautiful as some they had seen on their trip. Mr. Johnston obtained his substantial wealth through investments in banking, railroads and public utilities rather than from the agrarian cotton economy.
The Johnston’s daughter and her husband and their extended family lived in the home with the Johnston’s and took over ownership when Mrs. Johnston died in 1896. They remodeled and redecorated parts of the house, updated the plumbing and added electricity.
When the Felton’s passed away in 1926 the house was sold to Parks Le Hay, founder of the Banker’s Health & Life Insurance Company.
After Mrs. Hay’s death in 1962, her heirs established the P.L. Hay Foundation and operated the house as a private house museum. In 1977, ownership of the house was formally transferred to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
There are more than 16,000 square feet in the 24 principal rooms. The house is chiefly characterized by arches and curves which give it a beautiful, flowing style.
For more information, contact:
934 Georgia Ave. Macon, Georgia 31201
Open Tuesdays-Saturdays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Tours are on the hour with the last tour at 3 p.m.
Closed Sundays in January, February, July & August
Closed Mondays and the following major holidays: New Year’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
Open daily during December and the Cherry Blossom Festival
Seniors (Ages 55+) and Military with ID: $7
Christmas Tour Rates (Nov. 20, 2010 – Jan. 2, 2011):
Adults – $11
Seniors (55+)/Military – $10
Students (Age 6 – College) – $7
Under 6 – Free
Group Tours (20+ with reservation): $9
School Groups (K-12 + College with reservation): $3
School Groups – Additional Adults – $6
Children under 6: Free
Georgia Trust Members: Free
National Trust Members: Free
AAA discount available
Special rates available for groups of 20+ with reservations