The Palace of the South

Did you know?

One of the most famous structures in Georgia rests inside downtown Macon.  If you’re from Middle Georgia, the Johnston-Felton-Hay House (we will mainly call it the Hay House from here on) needs no introduction.  Also, the supposed “hauntings” have a life of their own as well, but what about its history.  What is its connection to Rose Hill Cemetery? We’ll discuss both, but as always, we must first explore the history.

934 Georgia Avenue is home to the “Palace of the South” and is more than likely the most famous “haunted” structure in Macon, if not the state.  More importantly, it is also, arguably, the most well-known historical building in the state.  Having four stories and boasting 18000 square feet, this home was brought to existence by William Johnston.  Johnston was an extremely wealthy investor who was also a rarity due to the fact that his riches did not come from the cotton industry.  According to many different sources like Wikipedia (you have to take that with a grain of salt) the idea for the Hay House came from a trip that he and his wife, Anne, took through Italy.  There is a sense of romanticism we find touching, if that’s true.  It appears they were both lovers of history and Italian Style architecture, which would explain why the Hay House is as gorgeous as it is today.

Consisting of Italian Marble and many other state-of-the-art features for its time, the Hay House took around four years for its construction to be complete, beginning in 1855 and ending in 1859.  According to Wikipedia, its design came from a New York architect named T Thomas and Son.  Also adding to its unique design, all of the craftsmanship and works of art were supervised by a local “master builder” named James B. Ayers.  The home also has over 20 rooms!  Its amazing symmetry is, in addition to what we’ve already mentioned, a testament to why this home is and always will be a wonder.  In 1974 it was declared a Nation Historical Landmark.

The Front Steps of The Hay House. Photo Courtesy of MGHH

Taking all of that in, it’s worth noting that some of those “rare features for its time” were “speaker tubes” for communication throughout the house, running hot and cold water, an in house kitchen and even a sophisticated ventilation system.   That information comes straight from its own website, which we will share later.  To us, when viewing history, it becomes fascinating just how much of our current way of life we take for granted in today’s time.  Just cut off a teenager’s wifi today and see what happens (don’t do that, it’s hazardous to your health).

So why is it abbreviated as The Hay House today?  Remember, it’s actually called the Johnston-Felton-Hay House.  We’re sure the last name “Hay” is used because it’s just easier to sayMaybe there’s a real reason for it (let us know if so). It still carries all of the other names because those are the families that lived in the home throughout its time before it became the venue/museum/amazement that it is today. 

As all of you are well aware, this building and architectural miracle has a much darker side as well, or so it’s said.  The “hauntings” in this home are as unique as its hidden passage.  In addition, it would be quite impossible for us to go over all of them, so we’ll leave you to do your own research on the subject.  Our interest, of course, is history, so what does it say?  It says that there have indeed been deaths in the home.  It’s also of interest to point out that out of 6 of the Johston family’s children, only two survived into adulthood.  Could that play a role in its current legend?  Again, you be the judge.

There is an interesting connection between the Hay House and Rose Hill Cemetery.  In one of our previous stories about the supposed (but 100 percent not true, go read it) vampire buried in Rose Hill, Joseph Bond, you’ll recall that his grave neighbors that of Mr. William Johnston’s and the Johnston family grave/mausoleum.  Johnston’s grave is marked with an incredible italian marble monument.  Not only that, the back side of his and Bonds grave/mausoleum (made famous by the Allman Brothers Band album cover) is designed to mimic that of the Johnston-Felton-Hay House.  That’s how much William loved his home.

Hey!  We hope you enjoyed this post about the Johnston-Felton-Hay House.  We purposefully left out a TON of information because we want to encourage you to visit the place and its website at  If you can’t book a tour, no need to fear.  There is a virtual tour of the home on its website.  Our source for this article was mainly its own website (where the two black and white pictures come from) and Wikipedia,  along with many other sites we’ve explored over time.  Also, if ghost and hauntings are your thing, they do ghost tours there as well. Check them out, support them and your local history! Also, every time we mention a cemetery, especially Rose Hill, we must warn you to NEVER GO TO CEMETERIES AT NIGHT and to NEVER VANZALIZE PROPERTY THAT YOU DO NOT OWN. you will be arrested.

Photo Courtesy of


%d bloggers like this: