Macon was spared from destruction from the Union troops when, led by General William T. Sherman, they bypassed Macon on the infamous March to the Sea. Because Macon’s city structures and architecture remained intact, there are 14 historic districts encompassing more than 6,000 historic homes and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As featured on A&E’s “America’s Castles,” the keeper of the Confederate treasury, William Butler Johnston, left behind the real treasure, Hay House. Inspired by the mansions of Florence and Rome during a three-year honeymoon in Europe, Johnston and his wife, Anne, spent four years building an 18,000-square-foot Italian Renaissance Revival mansion that is now a National Historic Landmark. Considered the most advanced antebellum building in America for its style, craftsmanship and technological innovations, the magnificent seven-level Hay House boasts beautiful 18th-century furnishings, Italian Carrara Marble fireplaces, some of the country’s finest examples of marbleized and trompe l’oeil finishes, a music room with a 30-foot clerestory ceiling, exquisite plaster work with 24-karat gold leafing and spectacular stained glass. Today, the mansion is called Hay House for its last owners and residents, the P.L. Hay family, who conveyed the property in 1977 to The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
Open: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Saturday; 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday. Tours are on the hour with the last tour at 3 pm.
Admission: $11 for Adults; $10 for Seniors, Military and Students; $7 Children under age 6 are free.
While in town: Peek inside the Cannonball House and Sidney Lanier Cottage, the remaining two historic house tours Macon regularly offers. The Cannonball House is known for being the only home in Macon damaged by the Civil War, and the Sidney Lanier Cottage is the birthplace of poet, musician and solider Sidney Lanier, who is best known for “The Marshes of Glynn” poem.