Originally a private mansion constructed in 1905, the 41,000-square-foot Hayes Mansion sat on 700 acres of land, ostensibly operating as a self-sufficient estate with a farm and orchards as well as its own railroad, power plant and post office. Today, the mansion operates as a hotel and spa. The home is exemplary of late 19th century Mediterranean Revival architecture in the Santa Clara Valley. It stood as the home to the wealthy Hayes family until they sold it in 1964. The family amassed their fortune in the iron ore industry in Wisconsin and Michigan and then used that fortune to become a powerful, influential family in San Jose. Members of the family went into national politics, were heavily involved in the church, altered local and national policies, and brought the fruit industry to the region. And, for six years, the Hayes brothers owned every major newspaper in San Jose.
Backstory and Context
Originally a private mansion constructed in 1905, the 41,000 square foot Hayes Mansion how operates as a hotel and spa. The home is exemplary of late 19th century Mediterranean Revival architecture in the Santa Clara Valley. It stood as the home to the wealthy Hayes family until they sold it in 1964. The family amassed their fortune in the iron ore industry in Wisconsin and Michigan and then used that fortune to become a powerful, influential family in San Jose. Members of the family went into national politics, were heavily involved in the church, altered local and national policies, and they brought the fruit industry to the region. And, for six years, the Hayes brothers owned every major newspaper in San Jose.
In 1887, Mary Hayes Chynoweth settled in San Jose with her sons and their families. The family arrived with great wealth, which they had obtained from their iron ore mining ventures in Wisconsin and Michigan. (Mary believed that she held mystical powers that guided her two sons to the precise location of a substantial iron ore vein in Wisconsin). The family used part of their fortune to acquire the San Jose Mercury and other newspapers, among other area businesses. Indeed, for six years, the Hayes brothers owned every newspaper in the community. As well, they purchased more than 200 acres of property in San Jose and subsequently built a 22,000-square-foot mansion where they remained for ten years until a fire ruined the home.
The family replaced their first San Jose residence with the mansion now deemed historic. The imposing sixty-two-room, 41,000-square-foot home was made with the finest materials, including exotic woods, imported marble, and the most exceptional craftsmanship available. The home was built in the shape of a Maltese cross and featured a large center section containing an 18-foot wide solarium.
The Hayes family also owned 700 acres of land adjoining the mansion. The family planted an abundance of fruit orchards and used much of the rest of the land for general farming; the family had a staff of 40 ranch hands, too. Consequently, almost everything that the family -- and the staff -- had been grown and processed on the Hayes' land. Furthermore, the home also enjoyed the use of its own power plant, railroad station, and post office. And, as a consequence of the first home's fire, the new home incorporated the most up-to-date fire safety precautions available at the time.
However, Mary never lived in the house as she died a few months before its completion. Nonetheless, even by the time of her passing, she had left an indelible mark on the area as a devout religious leader in San Jose. Mary funded the construction of the Sandstone Chapel and established the True Life Church of San Jose on the Hayes estate in 1903. She also served as the church pastor until her death in 1905. Meanwhile, the two sons she raised and brought to San Jose went on to enjoy notable success in the area.
In 1898, Everis Hayes organized the San Jose Good Government League. In 1904 Everis A. Hayes was elected a member of Congress (and then re-elected six more times). He served as ranking Republican member on the banking and currency committee, as well as the immigration and naturalization committee. He was also very active in the formation of the Federal Reserve Act, the Farm Loan Act, and spearheaded the reorganization of the rules of the House of Representatives.
Jay Orley Hayes proved integral in the organization of the California Prune and Apricot Growers Association, and he served as its director for numerous years. In fact, both brothers actively participated in developing the fruit industry in the San Jose region, which significantly boosted the local area's economic livelihood (and profoundly altered the local environment and hydrology).
But, the Hayes brothers' largest investments involved their media purchases. As previously mentioned, the two brothers gobbled up every newspaper in San Jose, effectively "controlling" the media for six years.
The Hayes brothers sold the property in 1964, though it is believed they left the property years earlier. The mansion fell in disrepair until the city invested nearly $60 million in restoration and conversion of the mansion into a historic hotel and conference center. It has passed hands a few times in the past few decades, but the landmark mansion remains a destination, high-end hotel, spa, conference center, and wedding location.
"The History of Hayes Mansion." Hayes Mansion Website. hayesmansion.com. Accessed January 9, 2020. https://hayesmansion.com/history/.
Nash, Kathy M. "Nomination Form: "Hayes Mansion." National Register of Historic Places. nps.gov. August 1, 1975. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/bf7567a2-37fd-4fa2-9513-aabb064e7ffe.
Steinberg, Theodore. Down to Earth: Nature's Role in America's History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Woudenberg, Carina . "San Jose: Hayes Mansion slated for new name, major renovation." San Jose Spotlight (San Jose) July 25th 2019. https://sanjosespotlight.com/san-jose-hayes-mansion-slated-for-new-name-major-renovation/