Located in Akron, Ohio, a 40-minute drive from Cleveland, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is the place to go to fill all your historic architectural and gorgeous botanical garden needs. Filled with stunning interior design and pristine landscapes, this notable building is listed as a National Historic Landmark. So whether you want to find a classy place to hold a special event or just wander through the area to explore the lush gardens, here’s why this house museum will be worth your time.
History of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
Construction of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens began in 1912, when F.A. Seiberling, co-founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and his wife Gertrude wanted to build a home big enough for their growing family (they had seven children!). The family also wanted the house to be an entertainment and event venue for the community in Akron, hiring architect Charles Schneider, landscape designer Warren Manning, and interior designer Hugo Huber to help them create their dream home.
Naming it Stan Hywet, Old English for stone quarry, the Seiberling family moved into their new home in 1915, living there for 40 years until the death of F.A. After his death, the house was turned into a non-profit historic house museum. On Mother’s Day of 1935, the Seiberling’s daughter, also named Gertrude, and daughter-in-law, Henrietta, had brought two men, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, together in the Gate Lodge so that they could discuss their drinking problems with each other. As the conversation continued into the evening, this led to the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous, the well-known organization dedicated to helping alcoholics worldwide get sober.
Exploring Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
This massive American country estate is not your typical house museum. Not only is it the sixth largest historic home that is open to the public, it’s also Akron’s first and largest National Historic Landmark. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is made up of the Manor House, the Carriage House, the Gate Lodge, the Corbin Conservatory, and numerous historic gardens for all visitors to explore, and you can plan on spending a full day when you visit this historic place.
Manor House, the biggest building in the area, has 21,455 glass panes and 23 fireplaces throughout all of its 64,500 square feet, with 95% of the furnishings still original to the estate. As one of the “finest examples of Tudor Revival architecture,” you’ll want to check out the many rooms inside, such as the Music Room or the Billiards Room. Each one illustrates a unique part of the story behind the Seiberlings’ lifestyle. Aiming to preserve the legacy F.A. established in using his influence and fortune to create fair housing, improve transportation, preserve green space, and fund countless arts and culture programs, a crest welcomes guest in the entryway of the edifice that says, “Non Nobis Solum,” meaning, “Not for Us Alone.”
Differing in style from the rest of the estate, the Gate Lodge was designed to house Fred’s family, the Seiberling’s eldest son. This place is specifically the location of where Alcoholics Anonymous began, with Fred’s wife, Henrietta, leading the movement. This part of Stan Hywet hosts a special exhibit that commemorates the start of the life-changing organization.
Henrietta Seiberling and the Oxford Group
The Carriage House is 10,929 square feet, historically consisting of 13 rooms on its second floor. Its garage, where Gertrude’s electric cars were stored, is now used as a venue for weddings and corporate events. The stables and tack room that used to keep the family’s horses, is now Molly’s Shop & Cafe, where you can get your souvenirs or grab a bite to eat. The Corbin Conservatory was the family’s greenhouse and place of relaxation. It’s Gothic-style build was resurrected from the original structure, and now homes the Garden Under Glass exhibit, showcasing some of the most exotic plants from around the world.
Across the 70 acres that remain from the original layout, a stunningly vast landscape full of botanical gardens take up the empty spaces between the buildings. The gorgeous colors that fall upon the foliage that are strategically placed for an aesthetically pleasing design, change by the seasons, with different brushes blooming as well. The Birch Tree Allee is a 550-foot alleyway lined by birch trees, naturally forming a corridor to showcase spectacular shadows. The end of the aisle leads to a vista that overlooks a lagoon.
Other natural terrains to explore on the campus includes the Breakfast Room Garden, the Dell, the English Garden (Gertrude’s favorite garden refuge), the Grape Arbor, the Great Garden, the Great Meadow, the Japanese Garden, the Lagoon, and the West Terrace & Overlook. The Dell is a naturalistic woodland garden with a beautiful stone underpass that tourists can walk under. The Great Meadow is a traditional Tudor English country home garden, and the West Terrace is considered a fine example of English garden arrangements.
The English Garden was designed by the renowned female landscape artist, Ellen Biddle Shipman, and is one of the only Shipman gardens actually open to the public. The Japanese Garden is considered the “tranquil garden” on the grounds. Designed by landscape architect T.R. Otsuka, it holds two 100,000 gallon cisterns underneath, originally serving as the water source for the entire estate.
Events at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
If you’re looking for a sophisticated place to hold your wedding or a fancy event, than Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens just might be your choice! To check out how to book the place and what their prices are, check out their website at stanhywet.org.
Aside from serving as a venue, the historic house museum has their own events scheduled throughout the year. Bring your dog along by attending “Woof Walks,” or do some yoga on the West Terrace. Attend a mid-summer food and wine pairing tasting or bring your kids to enjoy the interactive adventures on the grounds. At Christmas time, they host “Deck the Hall,” a spectacular holiday extravaganza complete with Christmas lights, flora, and, of course, delicious foods and drinks.
How to Visit
Regarding touring the grounds, you have plenty of options. In touring the Tudor Revival Manor House, you can either take a guided house tour with an expert who knows the building, or do a self-guided tour, which was made an option due to the pandemic. Other tours include the Nooks & Crannies Tour- which takes you through what managing the estate looks like and the Grand Estate Tour- which goes through the Manor House, the Gate Lodge, the Corbin Conservatory, and the gardens. There are also self-guided tours available to go through the Gate Lodge, the Corbin Conservatory, and the gardens, and you can find all these options and their prices here.
Located at 714 North Portage Path Akron, OH 44303, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is open from April-November, Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00am-6:00pm. They’re normally closed on Mondays, except for Memorial Day and Labor Day, when normal operating hours apply. Check their website for more information on how hours will change based on their special events, and make sure to read their museum guidelines before you visit.
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