Preserving Pioneer and Old Settlers Traditions

Preserving Pioneer and Old Settlers Traditions

Collecting, Preserving, and Sharing our History Since 1897

Preserving the History of Washington County from our Earliest Days

Preserving the History of Washington County from our Earliest Days

Did your Family Research lead you to Washington County?

Did your Family Research lead you to Washington County?

Contact our Genealogy & Family Research Library

Sharing the History of Washington County with Each Generation

Sharing the History of Washington County with Each Generation

Celebrating the Long History of Auto Racing in Washington County

Celebrating the Long History of Auto Racing in Washington County

Latest John Hay Center News


Capital Campaign for The John Hay Center

Posted 6/18/2024

200th Anniversary of the John Hay Birthplace

2024 marks the 200th year of the John Hay Birthplace located on The John Hay Center’s campus on College Avenue. The home was first built in 1824 as a grammar school run by educator John I. Morrison. The school soon outgrew the small building, so they left and the Hay family moved in in the early 1830s. John Hay, personal secretary to Abraham Lincoln and a statesman, was born in this house on October 8, 1838. The Hay family would move to Illinois in the early 1840s, and the house was sold to the Telle family who resided in it until the WCHS purchased it in 1966. The house was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1971.

Why Give?

Your financial support is essential to our success and will leave a lasting legacy as we continue our mission to collect and preserving Washington County history.
The purchase of a memorial brick will enshrine you or your loved one’s name alongside a monument of Washington County history, and provide support for our project to place
historically accurate doors on the Hay House.

Any further contribution will be recognized in our annual magazine The Historian and those who make contributions of $1,000 or more will be memorialized on our donor plaques at The Stevens Memorial Museum.

Click here to download a donation form




The John Hay Center is currently seeking applicants for the Depot Manager position.

Posted 12/12/2023

Ideal candidates will have the ability to engage and communicate with the general public and maintain productive working relationships. Must also possess the ability to recruit, develop and manage volunteers and have above average skills in critical thinking, analysis, organization, donor stewardship, develop relationships with community organizations, local government and individuals, lead fundraising and development efforts, including grants, individual giving and foundational giving, public speaking and written communications, a sense of humor, integrity and impeccable work ethic.

General responsibilities include but are not limited to the following; welcoming and assisting guests, answering phone calls, responding to voicemails and emails, maintaining daily reports of income and expenses, managing the Depot Gift Shop, creating and monitoring social media posts, collaborating with JHC staff and board members, working special events, offer contributions to our annual magazine, maintain supply inventory, schedule and manage rentals, perform light custodial duties, and completing tasks assigned by the Board of Directors.

This position is currently for Fridays and Saturdays only, from 10am to 5pm. Additional hours may be collected through rentals and special events. Further job information and a more comprehensive list of duties and responsibilities will be provided during interviews.

You can submit a resume or application for employment at the Stevens Memorial Museum, Wednesday through Saturday, from 10am to 5pm, 307 E. Market Street Salem, IN.

Photo of John Milton HayWho was John Hay?

Statesman, Author, Ambassador

John Hay was a great American statesman, diplomat, author and poet, whose political career spanned over 50 years.  He was born in a small brick home in Salem, Indiana, on October 8, 1838.

After John displayed considerable potential in his schooling, his Uncle Milton Hay, who was a practicing lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, took a special interest and sent him to Brown University, where he graduated in 1858. 

In 1860, when John Hay’s childhood friend, John Nicolay, was appointed Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign secretary, he was brought on board to assist with the enormous amount of correspondence. 

Hay grew to adore President Lincoln for his goodness, patience, understanding, sense of humor, humility, magnanimity, healthy skepticism, sense of justice, resilience and power, love of the common man and mystical patriotism. Many later noted that Lincoln too, loved Hay as a son and was very attached to him.

In 1903, after years of negotiating treaties, Hay successfully passed legislation that afforded the United States the opportunity to start construction on the Panama Canal. 

Brown University’s John Hay Library was named in his honor, as was the John Hay Air Base, in the Philippines and both his birth home, in Salem, Indiana and his summer estate, The Fells, in New Hampshire, have been historically conserved. 

John Hay Center Hours of Operation

Thursdays - 10:00am – 5:00pm
Fridays - 10:00am – 5:00pm
Saturdays - 10:00am – 5:00pm

Tour Pricing

Self-Guided Tours

Adult (Age 18+) - Donation
Child (Age 6-17) - Donation

Guided Tours

Complete Comprehensive Tour
(Museum,Pioneer Village, The Depot)
Adult (Age 18+) - Tour Price  $20.00
Child (Ages 6-17) - Tour Price $10.00
Guided Tours - Free to Members

Steven's Museum Guided Tour
(Approximate 2 hour Tour)
Adult (Age 18+) -  Tour Price $7.00
Child (Ages 6-17) - Tour Price $4.00
Guided Tours - Free to Members

Pioneer Village
(Approximate 1 hour Tour)
Adult (Age 18+) - Tour Price $7.00
Child (Ages 6-17) - $4.00
Guided Tours - Free to Members

The Depot Railroad Museum
(Approximate 1 hour Tour)
Adult (Age 18+) - $7.00
Child (Ages 6-17) - $4.00
Guided Tours - Free to Members

School Tours

Private & Public School Tours: $3.00 per student/parent (Teachers free & 10 student minimum)

Private Tours

Scheduled Private Tours (More than 5 Guests) (Minimum $50)

Additional Information

*All regular tours are free for Life Members
*Children under 5 are free

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