Thursday, July 3, 2014

Estate and Home of President Rutherford B.Hayes

This museum is about 50 miles east of Toledo.  I knew little to nothing regarding our 19th president, for that matter, I am even more ignorant as to what was happening politically in our country during the one term Hayes was in office from 1877 to 1881.  I was adamant that we visit the place.  President Hayes center was the first presidential museum to be built, and opened to the public in 1916.   In 1928 the White House gave, as a gift to the center, 6 entrance gates which were at the White House during the Hayes administration.
The house and museum sits on a 25 acre site, called Spiegel Grove, which was once the estate of  President and Mrs. Rutherford Hayes.  Before they lived there it once was a Gothic farmhouse built by Hayes' Uncle Sardis Birchard in 1859.  Over the years it was renovated several times and additions added to the house.  In 1863 President Hayes and his family moved into what it eventually became, a Victorian mansion . The house changed from a four bedroom two-story house to a three-story with eighteen bedrooms and a total of thirty-one rooms.  Four generations of the Hayes family lived in it until 1965.
There will be a concert for the 4th of July on a bandstand which has been placed in front of the porch.  Speaking of the porch, our guide for the house informed us that walking the length of the porch 33 times
equals a mile.  President Hayes discovered that fact when inclement weather did not allow him to take his daily walk of six miles on the estate.  Pictured below is the backside of the mansion, which should give you an idea as to how immense the place is. 

We had a guided tour of the house, which is reportedly one of the finest of the presidential homes open to the public.  On the first floor the floor and wall treatments have been restored to what they looked like in 1863.  Furnishings of the home have remained in the house over the years, with very few exceptions.  It is one of the most interesting older Victorian homes which we have toured.  Of special interest to us was President Hayes' "inner sanctum", which, beside the usual bathroom amenities of the late 1800s, also has a library and a large window overlooking the spacious yard.
President Hayes is said to have been an environmentalist, possibly one of the first proponents of tree hugging.  He had a custom of having distinguished visitors hug the trees on his estate, after which he would honor them with their name on the tree.  John and I spent some time wandering the grounds and looking for the name plaques.  The custom has continued over the years, we found one name plate dated 2007.  The estate has many species of trees, some to be at least over 200 years old.  By the way, William Wheeler was Vice-President during the Hayes administration.  After the house tour we visited the presidential library, more on that in my next posting.

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