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Hay Lore

Antique toys return for Christmastime at ‘The Palace of the South’

By W. Aubrey Newby, chair-elect, and Jonathan H. Poston, director of Hay House

Photos by Paul and Delise Knight.

Christmas at Hay House has long been about tradition. The celebrations of Christmases past for the Johnston, Felton and Hay families are all key components of the interpretation of this storied mansion to the public – from simple holly sprigs and evergreen garlands in the 19th century, to Louisa Felton’s 1920s Christmas tree and the stockings her sons hung on the bookcase in the basement parlor, to the grand flocked tree and numerous tabletop decorations by Mrs. Hay in the mid-20th century.
Now, as Hay House celebrates more than 50 years of life as a house museum, the Georgia Trust has begun to celebrate its own traditions of Christmas at “The Palace of the South.”
It would be difficult to recall a more celebrated tradition than one which began at Christmas in 1988, with the addition of antique toys from the collection of Macon residents Paula and Howard Knight. What began as a simple request for toys to place around the grand tree in the main floor living room (double parlor) began a tradition and a relationship that has lasted for 30 years.

In 1990, Macon Magazine’s November/December cover article featured the toys and the displays at Hay House. Since that time, dozens of these treasured toys have made the trip nearly every Christmas to Georgia Avenue, encouraging visitors to recall memories of their own childhood and rekindle the spirit of Christmas in us all.
With great excitement, the Georgia Trust is delighted to announce that the toys are returning for yet another year to Hay House. This year, however, marks an even more significant milestone, thanks to the kindness and generosity of the Knight family. In honor of the late Howard Knight, who collected and cared for these toys, the family now has made a gift of selections from this special assemblage to be accessioned into the permanent collection of Hay House.
Now, the exquisite dolls, the metal truck, the various small carved animals, the large rocking horse and many other toys will be enjoyed by children and visitors at Christmas and throughout the year.

An ongoing series about Hay House lore, traditions and history. 934 Georgia Ave., 478.742.8155, hayhousemacon.org.

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