By Elaine Kish
The residence of F.A. Seiberling and his wife, Gertrude, Stan Hywet Hall is Akron’s first and largest National Historic Landmark and the nation’s 6th largest historic home. In 1898, Brothers F.A. Seiberling and C.W. Seiberling co-founded The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. It was not long until the company began to flourish and Akron became known as the “Rubber Capital of the World.” The Seiberlings dreamed of having a country estate and brought it to fruition in Stan Hywet Hall. Started in 1912 and completed in 1915, it is one of the American Country Estates built by the wealth of a self-made industry giant.
Architect Charles S. Schneider was hired to design Stan Hywet Hall. Schneider and the Seiberlings travelled to England and visited several well-known homes to arrive at the design. One of the finest examples of Tudor Revival architecture in America, the 64,500 sq. ft. Manor House required 3,000 separate blueprints and architectural drawings for its design. The English influence continued to the name. Stan Hywet is Old English for “stone quarry” which was the property’s most prominent natural feature when the land was purchased. Interior decorator Hugo F. Huber purchased furnishings and art for the house in New York and during a trip to England. It is filled with treasures from around the globe. With 21,455 panes of glass, it has 23 fireplaces and hand-carved oak, sandalwood and black walnut paneling, examples of the opulence of the 20th century.
Each room reflects the Seiberlings’ lifestyle. In the Billiard Room, Mr. Seiberling entertained business associates and concluded deals with a brandy and a good cigar. In the Music Room, which contains an Aeolian Organ with 2,650 pipes, celebrities Will Rogers and Shirley Temple entertained the Seiberlings and their family and friends. The Seiberlings also hired landscape architect, Warren H. Manning, who felt that the landscape and the house should complement each other. Together Schneider and Manning planned for the house to have five different overlooks of the Cuyahoga Valley. The ten gardens spread over 70 acres produce dramatic colors and blooms over the seasons. A favorite is the English Garden designed by female landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman.
The original design of the Estate included a Gate Lodge for the Estate Superintendent. It was a two-story structure with a uniquely different appearance from the rest of the buildings on the Estate. In 1923, this three-bedroom house became the home of the Seiberling’s eldest son Fred, his wife Henrietta, and their three children. Henrietta Seiberling was involved with the Oxford Group, a religious fellowship believing that ordinary people had the power to change their lives. She brought Mr. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, both admitted alcoholics, together for a meeting in 1935 and their discussion lead to identifying the principles that would become the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Visitors will see a historic reproduction of the Corbin Conservatory as it is the only structure on the Estate that did not endure over the years. Composed of 4,322 panes of laminated glass, it was used by the Seiberling family to grow produce and plant materials. The Carriage House was the Estate’s garage, stables and living quarters for the chauffer and groomsman. Originally designed to house ten cars, including two electric cars belonging to Gertrude Seiberling, the chauffeur lived on the second floor and also served as resident mechanic. Originally, there was a carwash bay, a mechanic’s office and a workroom. It also housed a 500-gallon gasoline storage tank with a pump and nozzle for refueling automobiles. Since horseback riding was one of the many sporting activities available on the Estate and a personal favorite of Mr. Seiberling, there were horse stalls and a tack room. The Seiberlings’ horses were world-class champions and they also owned two Belgian draft horses for farming, mowing and heavy work.
An accredited museum of the American Alliance of Museums, the collections and furnishings in the Manor House are original to the Estate. Following their parents’ example of generosity, in 1957 the Seiberling children gifted the Estate to the Akron community for the benefit of future generations. Above the Manor House entryway is a crest bearing the motto Non Nobis Solum (Not for Us Alone) which continues to greet visitors today the same is it did a century ago. There are several options available to tour the property ranging from the Guided Manor House Tour to the Grand Estate Tour, as well as smaller tours of single buildings and locations.
In 1966 Ohio Mart was created as a way to raise money for the Estate. Celebrating its 50th year and well known as Ohio’s premier artisan fall festival, Ohio Mart will be held this year October 6-9 with 120 selected exhibitors selling sculpture, jewelry, textiles, ceramics, wearable art, glass and more. As part of Ohio Mart, Inspiration in Bloom will feature fresh floral displays by area designers and garden clubs, and the 45th Stitchery Showcase will feature an exhibit in the Manor House Auditorium. Stitcher’s Faire, presented by the Stan Hywet Needlework Guild, will have books and stitching supplies available for purchase, as well as a children’s needlework project on Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9. Lunch will be served at the Food Court, Bakery Tent and Molly’s Café, and the Tudor Rose Pub will sell a variety of beer and wine. Of course, no day at Ohio Mart is complete without some hot gingerbread cookies.
During three weekends in October, the Manor House will host interactive performances of “Murder in the Mansion” where the public will join the suspects in attempting to figure out exactly who the murderer is. The evening concludes with refreshments and treats in the Manor House. This program is for visitors ages 17 and older.
In December the entire family can enjoy the holiday tradition of “Deck the Hall” when Stan Hywet Hall is decorated inside and out with 800,000 lights. The interior of the Manor House is decorated in the theme of “A Storybook Christmas.” The outdoor light show DAZZLE is animated to new music each year and Gingerbread Land, the Playgarden, is dressed up for the holiday season. There is a nightly tree lighting and live music in the Music Room from area choirs and musicians. Self-guided tours of the Manor House are included with purchase of a ticket and several locations on the property host holiday activities.
For more information about tours of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, their holiday programs and Ohio Mart, visit their website at stanhywet.org.
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens