AKRON, Ohio - Walking through the lush grounds is satisfying in itself. But to see at the end of its curving drive a beautiful home nestled in the well-manicured landscape surrounding it is beyond satisfying. It is like walking into a castle or palace, which is probably what its builder had in mind.
Stan Hywet Hall in Akron was the home of an industrial baron of the early-20th century. F. A. Seiberling and his wife, Gertrude, built the home, boasting of 65 rooms. Their builders laid the foundation in 1912 and continued to work on the house for the next three years. The home drew its name from the Olde English phrase for "stone hewn." There is an abundance of stone throughout the home and its gardens.
Seiberling, cofounder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and later cofounder of Seiberling Rubber, helped put Akron more firmly on the map. The rubber companies gave Akron the nickname "The Rubber City." Seiberling was one of the world's industrial tycoons. F.A. Seiberling died in 1955, nine years after his wife passed.
"Stan Hywet is an American country estate and is really built off the European country estate movement," said Tom McKenzie, tour manager for the hall and gardens. They property is now owned by a non-profit group that maintains and operates the historic house. It is open to the public for tours.
Among the volunteers who conduct tours through the house is Anne Davis, granddaughter of the Seiberlings. She tells visitors of her fond memories of growing up within a 10-minute bicycle ride to her grandparents' mansion.
"Oh, Christmases were magic her at Stan Hywet," Davis said. "The holidays were filled with all the relatives and the children."
She remembered the children even put on their own rendition of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.
Davis lives in Oberlin, but makes a weekly trip to the old mansion to conduct tours.
"We would sunbathe up there and talk about the gorgeous view," she said with a smile and a glint in her eye.
The mansion serves as a location for weddings.
"We have weddings throughout the weekend," said Eric Wheeler, marketing director for the hall and gardens. "Sometimes we have three or four weddings per Saturday."
The house, paneled in wood, was home to the Seiberling family for four decades. Servants lived on the third and fourth floors of the mansion. In its backyard is a wonderful fountain surrounded by a beautiful lawn and a stone walkway.
Though the Seiberlings are gone, the house they built remains. It is a testament to a time now gone. But today it is a historic pathway to the past and to how life was lived by the very wealthy.
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens is located at 714 North Portage Path in Akron. http://www.stanhywet.org/