The historic Hay House, one of Macon’s most visited tourist attractions, experienced damage to a beloved feature in a windstorm on Saturday, July 9 at approximately 2:15 pm. The winds shattered large sections of the original enameled/painted glass window (“the Lord Byron Window”) in the Walnut Hall of the house.
In the immediate aftermath, staff and several board members with help from several technicians followed Historic Preservation principles that direct historic sites to do the following: Assess the damage, Document all damage, and Stabilize existing fabric.
Within a matter of hours all fragments, no matter how small, of the window were retrieved and complete photo and written documentation of the event was completed. With the assistance of James Henigman, stained glass conservator with Henigman Remodeling and Glass in Forsyth, separated sections were stabilized with special architectural tape and the broken areas were secured both inside and outside. Other damage to the house included wind damage to the original bowed window in the Music Room and wind-driven rain forced through the clerestory windows. These areas were secured as well.
Due to the team’s efforts, the house was fully stabilized by 6:30 pm the same day. Jonathan Poston, Director of Hay House expressed his gratitude for the very quick storm damage response from so many people. He especially thanks the team of board members Aubrey Newby, Darin McClure, and James Barfield, as well as to Jaime Webb, carpenter John Wilson, conservator James Henigman, and Ramsey Yawn of Rental Concepts who brought the Boom Lift truck, and Georgia Trust staffers William Aultman, Jessica Thompson with husband Eric, Sarah Hall, and Jamie Bond for actions that mitigated further damage to the historic building.
Hay House, also known as the Johnston-Felton-Hay House, was built by William Butler Johnston and his wife Anne Tracy Johnston with plans by the New York architects Thomas Thomas and Son, beginning in 1855. Johnston and his architects ordered all the materials and directed various specialized craftsmen in the construction. The Lord Byron Window may be one of (or the) oldest, major, stained (painted or enameled) glass windows in a Georgia house, since it is believed to be original to the building and probably the work of one of three New York firms that William Johnston or his architect secured during construction in 1855-1860. The window features a painting of the English poet, George Gordon Byron (Lord Byron), in its topmost panel and was apparently selected for the house due to Anne Johnston’s great affection for the works of this author. Such decorative and figurative painted or stained glass windows came more into general fashion for residential uses after the Civil War.
Hay House is a property of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and is open to the public every day.
The house closed after this event but has reopened as of July 12th 2016. As Insurance proceeds are not expected to cover all damages, Hay House would be grateful for donations for this cause and to provide for other measures to protect these windows and the noted “Seasons of the Vineyard” window from future danger.
Please click HERE and donate to their cause!