Carol Martin remembers the night in the 1980s when the Barnes home first flipped the switch on the fountains, the spectacular new centerpiece of the 16-acre estate in Shirley Hills.
It was absolutely breathtaking, Martin recalls. I had never seen anything like that in Macon. Ive been to Europe, but it was here.
A steady stream of visitors poured onto the property Sunday, the final day of the Hay Houses annual Secret Garden Tour, to visit the 17,000-square-foot mansion, walk through its Chinese garden and its 150-seat chapel. And, of course, to see the terraced fountains spraying and bubbling again.
Former owners Emmett and Edwina Barnes drew inspiration for the fountains from their travels abroad. The wedding cake upper section is modeled after a fountain at Londons Trafalgar Square. The property has changed hands several times since, and parts had become overgrown before new owner Wes Hardin bought it.
It was a little bit different today, said Martin, noting the stucco was a different color and the statues were no longer there. Hes done a great job cleaning it out. It had become a little woodsy.
Hay House board chairman Boone Smith said attendance was up at this years Secret Garden Tour, which featured homes and gardens in the Shirley Hills neighborhood.
The weather was great. We had a lot more people. They came from all over, Smith said. Everybody came to see the assortment of gardens we had. A lot of people told us their friends had told them how great the tour was this year.
The tour had five stops, including the former home of Macon portrait artist Hope Hays and a Tudor cottage on Jackson Springs Road that had Macons first private swimming pool that drew water from the springs. But the star attraction was the Hardin home and the fountains.
That was a wonderful addition to the tour, said Smith. They worked hard to get those fountains up and running. That was a great draw.
Smiths mother, Claire, remembers the fountains blew everybodys socks off when they were built.
Its wonderful to see it all running again, she said.
Others discovered the fountains for the first time Sunday. Olivia Donovan and Kylie ODonnell, a pair of 10-year-olds, posed for photos in front of the fountains with their mothers, Holly Donovan and Michelle ODonnell.
The fountains were their favorite part of the tour.
I think its really cool, Olivia said.
With temperatures near 90, the girls fought the temptation to dip into the flowing fountains.
Theyve been wanting to do that, Michelle ODonnell said. They dipped their toes in the pool.
Paul Wright of Atlanta thought the elaborate fountains and other features were a bit much.
Its a little over the top, he said.
Diane Brannon, however, had a different take on her first look at the fountains.
Its amazing, soothing, she said. Its hard to believe its Macon.
To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.