Learn about the legendary mansion in San Jose

The History of Hayes Mansion

Hayes Mansion logo design frame

The Hayes family, led by the matriarch, Mary Hayes Chynoweth (pictured below), accrued their wealth through iron ore mining ventures in Wisconsin and Michigan beginning in 1885. The family, Mary, her two sons, Jay O. Hayes and Everis A. Hayes (pictured below), along with their young families, moved to San Jose in 1887 after purchasing 239 acres and a house from Frederick Tennant. Their first mansion, a 22,000-square foot 1891 Queen Anne Victorian with more than fifty rooms, burned to the ground in 1899.

Construction on the current Hayes Mansion began in 1903 and the family, except Mary Hayes Chynoweth (who died on July 27, 1905), moved in time for Thanksgiving, 1905. The original Mansion was 41,000 square feet and contained 64 rooms. Just like the first Mansion, this Mansion was built as a triple residence. Mary was to occupy the rooms on the second floor of the center portion, and sons Jay and Everis and their families had the East and West wings respectively.

The Hayes family ultimately owned nearly 700 acres of land adjoining the Mansion, much of which was planted in fruit orchards and the rest for general farming to support the family staff. Almost everything that the family ate was grown and processed here.

The park to the North of the mansion was originally an extensively landscaped park for the Hayes family, with exotic plants and roads and paths winding through it. The Hayes family sold their remaining property, including the Mansion and the park land, in 1954. The park area was Frontier Village amusement park from 1960 to 1980. The park is now Edenvale Garden Park, operated by the City of San Jose.

Both Jay and Everis obtained their law degrees in Wisconsin but left the legal trade to manage the mines and other family enterprises. They purchased the San Jose Herald in 1900 and the San Jose Mercury in 1901 as a means of supporting good government in San Jose during a time when corruption was rampant. They also purchased The Evening News in 1942. These newspapers eventually became the San Jose Mercury News.

In addition to their newspaper enterprise, Everis was a seven-term member of the House of Representatives and Jay was also involved in politics on the state level. Jay was also one of the founders of the California Dried Fruit Association during the time when the Santa Clara Valley was known worldwide as a dried fruit producer.

The City of San Jose purchased the Mansion and the remaining 6.2 acres of land around it in 1985. The Mansion was converted into a conference center that opened in 1994 with the addition of a dining room and large meeting room. Additions in 1996 and 2002 provided a total of 214 guest rooms and suites and 33,000 square feet of event space.

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