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Landmarks in The Land: Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

Between its sprawling footprint and acres of gardens and greenery, Stan Hywet is keeping its legacy of community alive.

AKRON, Ohio — For those looking for a place to roam, stretch their legs, stop and smell the roses, or marvel at an architectural work of art, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron likely has a little bit of everything. 

Construction on the 64,500-square-foot home began in 1912 and was the project of the Seiberling family, according to curator Julie Frey. Patriarch F.A. Seiberling was best known in Akron for his roles in founding the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and later the Seiberling Rubber Company. He, his wife Gertrude, and their six children moved into the home in 1915. 

While the Seiberling family lived in the home, Frey says they constructed it with the intention of having it serve as a community space. 

"While they had this money, they had this prestige, they were very well known -- both in Akron and outside of the city, as well -- they were very down to earth people," Frey told us. "They were approachable, and I think that's also what helped to make this a community space."

Frey says the family would often host events in the home and invite community members inside. 

"They chose over the entryway the Latin phrase, 'Non nobis solum,' Frey explained, "which means, 'Not for us alone.'"

The expansive home has 92 rooms, including bathrooms and closets, some of which are the size of modern day living spaces, according to Frey. Designed by Cleveland architect Charles Schneider, the Seiberlings drew inspiration from English manor houses, eventually settling on the style of French Tudor revival.

Features of the home include stained glass windows, soaring ceilings, and ornately carved wood paneling. In addition to a music room ideal for hosting, the home also featured specialty rooms, such as a room specifically designed for arranging flowers.

Gertrude Seiberling worked with interior designer Hugo Huber on the inside of the home. Huber looked to bring together the individual styles of the couple. 

According to Frey, Gertrude wanted to furnish the home with antiques, while F.A. was looking for more comfortable furniture. Ultimately, Huber was able to find a middle ground.  

"The home has a lot of upholstered pieces, a lot of very comfortable sofas, what would've been considered modern in 1915," Frey said. "We always get the feedback that 'I could live here. I could move right in. This feels so comfortable.'"

Outside, the home is surrounded by seasonal gardens and manicured land. Frey says Stan Hywet owns 70 acres of property in total, with about 30 being the "historic footprint." The family would use the outdoor space to ride horses, ice skate in the winter, or play tennis in the warmer months.  

The grounds were the vision of landscape designer Warren Manning, whom Frey described as someone who liked to use plants and features that would have been natural to Ohio. 

Today, the grounds are often used for weddings and other events. Frey says Stan Hywet has its own rentals department, and for the 2022 season has booked about 80 weddings. 

Members frequently use the grounds as a park, packing picnics or strolling among the greenery. The grounds also include a play space for children. 

In 1955, F.A. Seiberling passed away. Between his getting older, the Great Depression and war years, Frey tells us the home had begun to fall into disrepair. 

The children, faced with the question of what to do with the family home, had attempted to offer it to various community and historical groups. But because it did not come with money for upkeep, they were unable to find a match that would not fundamentally change the footprint or design of the home. 

Determined to keep the Seiberling legacy of community and gathering alive, a group of West Akron women who were friends and neighbors of the family came together to save Stan Hywet by forming a nonprofit. After cleaning up the home, they opened it up for tours to the public in 1957. 

More than six decades later, Stan Hywet, its gardens, manor house, conservatory, gate lodge, and carriage house are all emblematic of Akron;s contributions to the 20th century.

"It stands as a symbol for this time when Akron was on the national map," Frey said, "was so well known, was recognized and had this really booming, significant industry here that impacted the rest of the world."

Still today, the home is a marker of the legacy of a family who built a space for their community. 

"We have the privilege of honoring the Seiberling legacy exactly as they would have intended," Frey said. "We are a resource to the public. They can come here and enjoy the grounds just as the Seiberlings invited the community to come here over 100 years ago."

    

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