The beautiful grounds of Stan Hywet in Ohio are definitely an experience that visitors will not soon forget. The lush, manicured grounds and the historic buildings help guests step back into time and learn about one of the influential families that helped shape not only Akron, Ohio but also the United States as a whole.
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The estate was originally started by none other by one of the co-founders of Goodyear Tire, FA Seiberling. The residents of the hall and gardens have had a large impact on both local and national culture. In fact, Henrietta Seiberling was one of the inspirations for what is currently Alcoholics Anonymous. It is also the first historic landmark in Akron and is the sixth largest publicly open historic home.
Visiting is generally broken into two major sections - the hall/estate and the gardens.
Manor House - Featuring stunning Tudor style architecture by Charles Schneider and influenced by English architecture, the 64000-square foot house was intricately planned, designed, and built in 1912. The family moved into the home at the end of 1915. Currently, the museum located in the manor house is filled with items that have been curated from around the world. Guests should pay special attention to the incredible amount of detail and love put into the building - like the 21,000+ separate panes of glass, over 20 fireplaces, and hand carved panels made out of sandalwood, oak, and black walnut.
Gardens - Over 70 acres of natural beauty surround the outside of the buildings, gardens that were carefully designed by Warren Manning, a well-known landscape architect, around the same time the house was built from 1912 to 1915. Make sure to check out the English Garden, lovingly created by a female landscape architect named Ellen Shipman. One of the most beloved areas of the gardens is called the Birch Tree Alley, which is an over 500-foot-long alleyway of grey birch trees that forms a long corridor that visitors can walk through. There is a vista at the end of the corridor as well, overlooking the lagoon, and a pair of tea houses made of stone and wood. There is also the breakfast room, a blue, white, and gold themed garden, outside of the breakfast room portion of the house, as well as the dell, which is a woodland garden and natural amphitheater. Make sure to allow time to see them all.
Corbin Conservatory - Also designed by Schneider, the gothic conservatory is made of over 4000 separate laminated panes of glass and was originally used for growing produce as well as other plants. Although the original structure did not withstand the test of time, it has been recreated with historic accuracy.
Gate Lodge and Carriage House - Two of the service buildings on the grounds are open for tours as well. The Gate Lodge was built for the superintendent of the property to live in so that they could effectively manage the property. It currently plays home to an exhibit on the birth of AA. The carriage house was essentially the garage/stable and living area for the estate’s chauffeur and any groomsman. This area is also open for tours as well as housing a dining option for hungry visitors.
These historic grounds are a great place for any school field trip looking to immerse students directly in history. There are a variety of different tour options, but all tours require at least two weeks reservation in advance to secure a spot. Each tour accommodates 15 students and one adult chaperone, but larger groups can be split up. There are self-guided and guided tour options at a variety of price levels lasting from one to two hours in length. Students and teachers can also collaborate with local groups to complete a “quest,” or on grounds scavenger hunt to find the hidden treasure. There are tours that focus on the local butterfly population and that allow students to geocache as well, all while working within educational guidelines. Teachers can also purchase and use the explorer backpacks, which come complete with magnifying glasses, tweezers, bug catchers and an insect guide to identify what they catch!
Shopping and Dining
Visitors should stop by Molly’s while on the grounds, which operates and both a shop and a cafe. Stop into the carriage house and check out the souvenirs, grab a sandwich, drink, snack, or ice cream. Anyone can visit Molly’s, as no admission fee applies unless visitors also choose to take a tour while there.
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, 714 North Portage Path, Akron, OH, 44303, Phone: 330-836-5533