The story behind San Jose’s Hayes Mansion

Let’s walk through the front doors of another grand South Bay mansion.

The front of Hayes Mansion in between two palm trees.

Let’s dive into the 130-year history of this infamous South Bay mansion.

Photo via @garden.gazing

Table of Contents

Today, we’re entering another grand (and not-so-haunted) San Jose mansion.

The Hayes Mansion, located in South San Jose, was built 120 years ago — and unlike the infamous Winchester Mansion that serves as a spectacle for tours, Hayes Mansion is operated by Hilton, giving its guests a premium, 4-star experience.

But much like the Winchester, Hayes Mansion wasn’t built overnight. In its century-old history, it’s been occupied by a well-known psychic and stood at the center of Santa Clara County high society. So, let’s enter, shall we?

A black-and-white photo of Hayes Mansion from the left-hand side of the entrance.

The Hayes Mansion remains one of the grandest pieces of late 19th-century architecture.

Photo via History San José

🏡 A false start

The Hayes Mansion story begins not in San Jose, but in Wisconsin. Mary Hayes Chynoweth was one of Wisconsin’s most famous psychics in the mid-19th century — and she channeled this supernatural ability to bring prosperity to her family after predicting wealth in iron ore mines.

After moving to San Jose with her two sons in 1887, Mary purchased 239 acres + a 22,000-sqft Queen Anne Victorian house — only for a fire to burn it down in 1899.

🏗️ A mansion reborn

In 1903, construction on the current Hayes Mansion began. Commissioned by Mary, and designed by architect George Page, the new 41,000-sqft, 240-room mansion was completed in 1905, only three months after Mary passed away at the age of 80. But with a new property, came new life.

Her two sons, Jay O. + Everis A. Hayes, had acquired three local newspapers, that merged to become the San Jose Mercury News. Both were involved in politics, with Everis serving as a member of the House of Representatives from 1904-1918, and Jay being the founder of the California Prune and Apricot Growers Association (now Sunsweet Growers), during a time where the county was a worldwide fruit producer. So, you could presume these brothers were pretty well-known.

The front of one of the Hayes Mansion entrances.

We’re absolutely loving the Mediterranean-villa style of the Hayes Mansion.

Photo via @garden.gazing

🕰️ From its heyday to the Hayes today

The Hayes brothers made the mansion a lively spot until their families decided to sell it in the 1950s, where the property then remained empty for years. It wasn’t until 1985, when the City of San Jose purchased the mansion and acres surrounding it, that it became a conference center that opened in 1994.

By 2002, the mansion boasted 214 guest rooms, 33,000 sqft of event space, and the lovely Edenvale Garden Park behind it. Today, the Hayes Mansion is listed on the US National Registrar of Historic Places and is a member of Historic Hotels of America.

If you enjoyed this tidbit of history, maybe a staycation is due? 🛎️

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