The Hays-Heighe House at Harford Community College is a dynamic, educational facility that showcases elements of Harford County’s social and cultural history through exhibits and programming. As an architecture of inclusion, its mission is to promote life-long learning, community collaboration, critical thinking and a public historical and cultural consciousness.
Named for the two prominent Harford County families that owned the House for the longest periods of time, the original stone house was built by Archer and Hannah Hays in 1808. In the 1840s, two additions were completed which added an East Wing to the original two story farmhouse, which by the middle of the 19th century was known as Prospect Hill Farm. Both the house and the farm remained in the Hays family until 1921, when they were acquired by Robert and Anne Heighe. In 1964, Prospect Hill Farm was purchased to become the campus of Harford Junior College, with the farmhouse serving as the administration building. The Hays-Heighe House was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
By 2002, the administrative offices of the college had relocated, and the house was used as an AMC Decorator Showhouse. However, in light of its unique historic value, a three-phase restoration project was begun in 2007 and completed in 2010. Since that time, the Hays-Heighe House has been serving the Harford Community College student body and the Harford County community by presenting a diverse assortment of exhibits and events. The house was a recipient of the 2011 Preservation Project Award from the Harford County Historic Preservation Commission. More recently in 2014, the House was recognized by the National Park Service as a part of the “Network of Freedom,” which documents sites on the Underground Railroad, as a result of newly discovered and documented information that an enslaved person named Sam Archer lived on the property and successfully escaped to freedom in 1860. This information was uncovered in research performed for an exhibit called Faces of Freedom: The Upper Chesapeake, Maryland and Beyond, curated by then-Coordinator for the Hays-Heighe House, Iris L. Barnes.
Today, the Hays-Heighe House is used as a “living classroom” where a wide range of programs and activities open to the public take place. The house is also used as an exhibit space for a wide variety of exhibits presenting the history of Harford County, as well as interpreting aspects of local history in the context of national or global events. The house itself is interpreted to the 1920s and 30s, when it was a prosperous thoroughbred horse farm owned by the Heighe family. The rooms in the main section each reflect a slightly different period to show the influence of different design styles over the years.
As a part of Harford County’s history for over 200 years, the Hays-Heighe House is not only a living celebration and examination of the county’s rich heritage, but also a vibrant and evolving participant in the county’s present and future. We eagerly invite you to discover this unique resource during our open hours and to visit our webpage at https://www.harford.edu/community/hays-heighe-house.aspx for more information about events and programming, which are generally free and open to the public. The house is also available for rental for small events and meetings. More information on renting space at the House is available on our webpage.