Designed by the architectural firm of T. Thomas & Son for Macon entrepreneur William Butler Johnston, this 18,000-square-foot Italian Renaissance Revival mansion was built between 1855-59 by James B. Ayres. Macon’s grandest residential landmark, it’s also considered one of the finest houses in Georgia, known as the “Palace of the South” upon construction. It was the most modern house in mid-19th-century Macon, featuring hot and cold running water, gas lighting, central heat, an in-house kitchen and other innovations far ahead of their time. The Johnston’s daughter Mary Ellen married William H. Felton (later a judge) in 1888 and they soon moved into the house. After the deaths of the Feltons, Parks Lee Hay bought the house in 1926. When Mrs. Hay died in 1962, her heirs established the P. L. Hay Foundation and operated it as a private museum. The Hay House was transferred to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation in 1977 and is operated as a house museum and event venue. The Georgia Trust has spent decades researching the history and architecture of the house.
National Historic Landmark