Landmarks in the Country: Stan Hywet

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Between its sprawling footprint and acres of gardens and greenery, Stan Hywet continues its community heritage.

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

Construction of the 64,500 square foot home began in 1912 and was the Seiberling family project, according to curator Julie Frey. Patriarch FA 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 house in 1915.

While the Seiberling family lived in the house, Frey says they built 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 out of town as well – they were very down to earth people,” Frey told us. “They were accessible, and I think that’s also what helped make it a community space.”

Frey says the family often held events at the house and invited members of the community inside.

“They chose for the entry the Latin phrase ‘Non nobis solum’, explained Frey, “which means ‘Not for us alone'”.

The sprawling house has 92 bedrooms, including bathrooms and closets, some of which are the size of modern living spaces, according to Frey. Designed by Cleveland architect Charles Schneider, the Seiberlings took inspiration from English mansions, eventually settling on the French Revival style of the Tudors.

Features of the house include stained glass windows, high ceilings and ornately carved woodwork. In addition to a music room ideal for entertaining, the house also featured specialty rooms, such as a specially designed room for arranging flowers.

Gertrude Seiberling worked with interior designer Hugo Huber on the interior of the house. Huber sought to bring together the couple’s individual styles.

According to Frey, Gertrude wanted to furnish the house with antiques, while FA sought more comfortable furniture. In the end, Huber was able to find common ground.

“The house has a lot of upholstered rooms, a lot of very comfortable sofas, which would have been considered modern in 1915,” Frey said. “We’re always told, ‘I could live here. I could move in right away. It’s so comfortable.'”

Outside, the house is surrounded by seasonal gardens and manicured grounds. Frey says Stan Hywet owns 70 acres of property in total, of which about 30 is 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 enjoyed using plants and features that would have been natural in Ohio.

Today the grounds are often used for weddings and other events. Frey says Stan Hywet has his own rental service and, for the 2022 season, has booked around 80 weddings.

Members frequently use the land as a park, packing picnics or taking walks in the greenery. The grounds also include a playground for children.

In 1955 FA Seiberling died. Between its aging, the Great Depression and the war years, Frey tells us that the house had begun to deteriorate.

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 there was no money for upkeep, they weren’t able to find a match that wouldn’t fundamentally change the footprint or design of the house.

Determined to preserve Seiberling’s legacy of community and togetherness, a group of West Akron women, friends and neighbors of the family, came together to save Stan Hywet by creating a nonprofit organization. After cleaning the house, they opened it for visits to the public in 1957.

More than six decades later, Stan Hywet, his gardens, mansion, verandah, gatehouse and coachhouse are all emblematic of Akron’s contributions to the 20th century.

“It symbolizes when Akron was on the national map,” Frey said, “was so well known, recognized, and had a really booming and important industry here that impacted the rest of the world.”

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

“We are privileged to honor the Seiberling legacy exactly as they would have wanted,” Frey said. “We are a resource for the public. They can come here and enjoy the land just as the Seiberlings invited the community to come here over 100 years ago.”

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