PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION HOW IT GOT ITS NAME WHY IT IS IMPORTANT
The Hays House, as it is now preserved, is a frame home appearing as it would have during the period 1813-1825. It consists of two rooms on the ground floor with a center staircase leading to three rooms on the second floor. In addition, the home would have had a 14' x 16' log kitchen and other out-buildings. (See Future Plans ).
The original part of the Hays House was build in 1788-1789 by John Bull. It consisted of one room with a stairway from the first floor to two rooms upstairs. Constructed with a gambrel roof, it afforded two floors of living space, but was taxed as one and a half stories. The house is one room deep with front and back doors and windows directly opposite each other. The ceilings on the first floor are high, and together with the placement of the windows and doors, the design allows maximum air movement and cooling on hot summer days.
An additional room on the first floor and a room above was added about 1814. Sometime between 1825 and 1840, a two story stone ell, placed at a right angle to the frame structure was built. The house remained in this configuration until 1960.
Most of the interior trim is original, and subtle differences in the trim can be seen between the original house and the 1814 addition. The staircase has a low, molded handrail and fully raised paneling below. Pintels, for hanging the original door on wrought iron strap hinges, are still in place on both the front and back door jambs. The front door transom has its original wide muntins and 8"x 10" lights. Also, original to the house and only found on the north side is hand-split white oak weatherboarding. Siding on the front, back and south side was replaced during the 1814 addition, and the house was also given new windows and doors at that time. The shutters are thought to be the oldest in the County.
The Hays House is named for Thomas Archer Hays, a prominent attorney and merchant of the town of Bel Air, whose family lived in the house for one hundred and forty years. Thomas Hays made it his home from 1811 to 1861. At his death the house passed to his unmarried daughter, Pamelia, who lived there until her death in 1875. By the terms of the will and since Pamelia had no children, the home passed to her sister, Elizabeth Hays Jacobs. The house remained in the Jacobs family until 1957 when it was sold to Anna McCleary. Ms. McCleary sold the home in 1959 to the Safeway Company. Threatened with demolition in 1960 to make way for a supermarket, the house was saved and moved to its present site.
The Hays House is the oldest home is Bel Air, but it is not on its original site. It demonstrates the living conditions of a family of rural gentry in the County seat from 1788 to 1825. Currently, it is used to teach children and adults about the life of a family, and the living conditions during that time period, and the history of the colonies and the early United States. A photograph of the Hays House (1996) before recent additions is given below.
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|Scheduled Events at the Hays House||Blanch Hall Lee Sampler|
|Reserve the Hays House for Your Special Event||Encampment of Living History|
|How You Can Help or Become a Tour Guide||Future Plans|
|About the Hays House||Furniture|
|Exterior of the Hays House||Interior of the Hays House|