A Night at the Historic Hayes Mansion of San Jose
Patrick and I just returned from a little trip up to the Bay Area and what a whirlwind it was! I’m delighted to share many of the wonderful places we visited, and I’m going to start with the hotel we stayed at for our first night, San Jose’s Hayes Mansion. Even though we were only in San Jose for one night, I always want to stay at unique or historic places, and the Hayes Mansion certainly fit that.
While a hotel today, it didn’t start out that way. The main building was originally built under the watchful eye of Mary Folsom Hayes Chynoweth, a woman who claimed to be a faith healer, as a home for herself and her two sons and their families. Born Mary Folsom in 1826 in upstate New York, her family later moved to Wisconsin where she became interested in spiritualism and was bestowed with the “power” to heal people through faith, however, we’ll see that didn’t always seem to work out. While in Wisconsin her family lived with recent widower Anson Hayes, cousin to President Rutherford B. Hayes. Mary’s family helped in looking after Anson’s daughter, but eventually Mary and Anson fell in love. The couple married, and had three sons, although one died very young. While the other two sons, Everis Anson Hayes and Jay Orley Hayes, were in college, Anson passed away. Later Mary would use her spiritualism gifts to guide her sons to land in Wisconsin that was was rich with iron ore, giving birth to the family’s wealth that would allow them to later build this expansive mansion.
After visiting San Jose in the 1870s, Mary, her two sons, and their families moved there. In 1889 she married San Jose attorney Thomas Chynoweth. The marriage was short lived, as Thomas passed away just two years after their wedding. Like I said, her faith healing didn’t always seem to pan out. But it is here in San Jose that the family built a massive 50 room Queen Anne style mansion in 1891, complete with electricity, school, and library. Sadly, the mansion suffered a fire in 1899, and they set about designing a new one with aid of architect George W. Page, and with all of the fire safety measure of the time. Construction started in 1903 and was completed in the autumn of 1905. Not only was there the 41,000 square foot home, the grounds was self-sustaining, with fruit orchards, livestock, power plant, post office, chapel, railroad stop, and housing for the ranch hands. The massive 64 room house was designed to house Mary, her two sons, and their families, however Mary would not live to see the mansion completed, passing away July 27, 1905.
The brothers stayed in the mansion, and became deeply involved in San Jose’s politics, newspapers, and agriculture. As the twentieth century marched forward, the Hayes family continued to live in the mansion, until 1964 when the family sold the it. The post-Hayes years were rough, and the mansion fell into disrepair while it acted as a boarding house. Despite this, its significance was recognized in 1975 when it became a California Historical Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1985 the City of San Jose swooped in to save it, restoring and reopening it as a hotel in 1994. In 1996 and again in 2002 additions were made and the property offers 214 guest rooms. By the mid-2010s, the mansion was costing the city (and taxpayers) millions to maintain, $60 million over the course of 30 years to be exact, so the city put it up for sale. In 2019 it sold, and is now run by Hilton.
Today the mansion itself is home to the check-in lobby, event space, and restaurant, while the added buildings that surround the back are the hotel rooms. Our room, while pleasant was kind of on small side and done in a sudo-modern meets light steampunk vibe. After checking in we explored the grounds, and in the morning we dined at the restaurant for breakfast before hitting the road up to Santa Rosa.
Stay a night at the historic Hayes Mansion, or just grab a bite to eat at the restaurant, at 200 Edenvale Avenue, in San Jose. You can see more and book your own stay on their website.
Avalos, George. “Historic Hayes Mansion in San Jose is bought, new owners plan hotel and conference center facelift.” The Mercury News, 11 February 2019.
“Hayes Mansion.” National Park Service. Accessed 18 June 2021.
Herhold, Scott. “Herhold: The woman behind San Jose’s Hayes Mansion.” The Mercury News, 14 June 2016. Accessed 18 June 2021.
Herhold, Scott. “San Jose’s Hayes Mansion: A $60 million loss.” The Mercury News, 25 June 2016. Accessed 18 June 2021.
Robinson, Melia. “Nobody wants to buy this 214-room mansion in Silicon Valley that’s on sale for $36 million.” Insider, 10 August 2017. Accessed 18 June 2021.
“The History of Hayes Mansion.” Hayes Mansion. Accessed 18 June 2021.
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3 comments on “A Night at the Historic Hayes Mansion of San Jose”
What’s wonderful hotel! I’m adding that to my places to visit/stay at.
If you go back to San Jose any time, there’s a great vintage restaurant downtown called Original Joe’s. It’s Italian plus steaks & hamburgers. We always route our November Monterey trips through SJ just so we can go & sit at the counter.
Thank you! I’ll add it to my list! We plan to do another Bay Area trip in the near-ish future when some of the places that we wanted to visit reopen.