Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ankron and Stan Hywet

Akron once led the world in the manufacturing of rubber products.  The other day at one of the visitor's centers in the Cuyahoga National Park I read a rather wry comment which noted: " In the twentieth century competition for autos, trucks and buses riding on tires produced by Akron's rubber companies caused the decline of both freight and passenger services" ( this was in reference to the demise of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the Cuyahoga Valley).  Local production of rubber products is now minimal, but Akron is still the corporate home of such companies as Goodyear and Uniroyal-Goodrich.  Stan Hywet was once the home of F.A. Seiberling, co-founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.  The name is Old English for stone quarry- a natural feature of the property.  The home was built from 1912-1915 and the family was in residence here from 1915-1955.  Gertrude Seiberling (wife of F.A. Seiberling) took architectural classes so she played a major role in the design of the mansion.  When the home was finished, the Manor House's 64,500 square feet included more than 65 rooms, 23 bathrooms and 23 fireplaces.  It is the sixth largest home in the United States, and it was well worth our time to visit it.  It has also kept many of the original furnishings.
The details of the interior of the house are amazing.  The front hallway has intricate carvings in the oak panel walls handcut and machine tooled to resemble folds of fabric.  The solarium features sandalwood paneling in a repeating double-diamond pattern and a theme of birds and animals.  The dining room has a canvas frieze, located along the upper perimeter of the room, which illustrate Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrimage.  The music room was the setting for grand parties and musical performances.  It features an Aeolian organ and may be played manually or electronically using music rolls.  The Von Trapp family performed here.  Their prayer kneeler is a furnishing of the house; the Von Trapps had daily morning prayers and always had a priest touring with them (information provided by our tour guide).  Every mansion has its list of visiting celebrities- in this house President Taft resided, as well as Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan.  I could go on forever about the awesome features of the house, but the landscaping outside of the house also needs to be acknowledged.
The house was intentionally designed so that one may look from the front door through the open rear door of the Great Hall to the verdant back yard with its Tea Houses.  Quite a magnificent view!  The Tea Houses are pictured below.
On the grounds there are also Japanese and English formal gardens as well as grape and rose arbors.  The Breakfast Room Garden reflects the interior of that room, which has a blue,white and gold color scheme.
We are heading out shortly for point east, so I will cut off this posting, and will write more regarding the gardens in the next posting. 

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