For nearly 30 years, The Georgia Trust has been researching and conducting restoration work on this National Historic Landmark. After several years of extensive research and structural analysis upon receiving the Hay House from the P.L. Hay Foundation in 1977, work began in 1980.
Outside, woodwork was restored and masonry repainted. New heating, electrical and plumbing systems were installed.
Inside, professionals set their sights on painstaking details. In the Walnut Hall, paint was carefully uncovered and damaged areas unpainted to blend with original finishes. Missing patterns on the stenciled ceiling were repainted in tones matching the soft, faded hues of the original. The patinated bronze archway over the stained-glass window with the Lord Byron portrait was restored to its original color.
Two main objectives were developed for restoration of Hay House: first, provide a broad interpretation of the entire range of the site’s history and its architectural evolution and secondly, use the highest possible standards in restoration of this National Historic Landmark.
It has always been important that the house be presented as an example of “living history,” as nothing in this world exists in a static vacuum. Hay House is not just an example of a fine structure, it was also home to many people. What’s left behind are examples of the mundane and the sublime parts of daily life.
The outside of the house was restored to c. 1930 instead of returning it to its original mid-1880s gray stucco. Returning it to its original state would have destroyed the red stucco, which is quite unusual in the South. It would also necessitate the removal of the historic kitchen and loggia addition that was added to the house around 1900.
In a somewhat unconventional move, it was decided that different rooms in the house would be interpreted to different periods of time. For example, the dining room and entrance hall will be restored to their original late 1800s grandeur, the library and the front porch will be interpreted to the turn-of-the-century styling of the Feltons, and the music and living rooms will be transformed into their later era Hay appearance.