A tour of the Robert Hay House provides insight into the lives and society of middle-class craftsmen and artisans essential to everyday life in the early nineteenth century. Scottish-born Robert Hay was a skilled craftsman of carriages and riding chairs. He purchased the house in 1816, living there until his death in 1850. The original structure, purchased for $1,000, was a single heated room on each of the two floors, with a cellar kitchen including a large cooking fireplace. Hay enlarged the house between 1820 and 1830 with a rear addition consisting of a double porch and two small heated rooms. The house gives visitors a firsthand experience of early nineteenth-century methods of climate control. Winter heating is provided by working fireplaces in the parlor and kitchen, and summertime cooling is provided by channeling the breeze from nearby Trent River through the open doors and windows. In addition, louvered shutters on the sunny sides of the house are closed to block the sun's hot rays. The Robert Hay House, opened to the public in late 1998, has been restored to its appearance during the decades from 1830 to 1850. Because the house is not equipped with the modern climate controls needed to protect antiques, it is furnished with accurate reproduction pieces made by skilled woodworkers using traditional hand methods.
Only open during special events and tours, information about the Hay House may be obtained by calling Tryon Palace at 252-638-3500.
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