Friday, July 27, 2012

Stan Hywet Hall in Akron, Ohio

Stan Hywet Hall, main entrance

One highlight of my trip to Cleveland was the day spent at Stan Hywet, the former home of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company founder Frank A. Seiberling. Stan Hywet is a rather large house at 64,000+ square feet, but its rambling design and close integration with its gardens is intended more to charm than to overwhelm. 

Aerial view of the house, towards the back.
Stan Hywet,  pronounced ‘stan hee-wit’ and meaning ‘stone quarry, was built from 1912-15 by architect Charles Sumner Schneider.  The quality of every detail was first rate, including interiors by H.F. Huber and Co., and ironwork by the famous Samuel Yellin.

Detail of copper downspout

This side porch was beautifully designed and carved.
I love old houses, and Stan Hywet is especially enjoyable to visit. There is so much to see, and so much that is beautiful and impressive. In addition to the house and grounds themselves, our visit was enhanced by the helpful docents and other staff, all of whom seem to love the house and want to share their enthusiasm with you.

One special feature of Stan Hywet is that it never went through a lot of owners and remodelings. The Seiberlings donated the house as a non-profit museum in 1957, and as a result the house is in remarkably original condition—the furniture, paintings, dishes, even the pots in the kitchen are all still there.

The most comfortable and inviting room in the house has to be the music room. In addition to an English harpsichord, it boasts a pipe organ, now playable by remote control, providing quite a start when the docent activates the mechanism . During our visit, a display of antique jewelry, some of it belonging to the Seiberlings, was set up in this room.

The Music Room

Stan Hywet was designed in the Tudor Revival style, and so naturally includes a Grand Hall. This photo, taken from the balcony, doesn’t accurately give a true impression of the size and grandeur of this room.

The Great Hall
The Seiberlings’ Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company was named after Charles Goodyear, inventor of the vulcanization process for rubber. It is appropriate then that this very Victorian console table on the landing of the Tower stairs was actually made of vulcanized rubber.

There is a large, formal dining room, but everyone was taken with the charm of the more intimate breakfast room. The lower ceiling, beautiful woodwork and display of blue and white china seemed quite cozy, while the large expanse of leaded glass led to a view of the lawn and gardens beyond. An impressive feature was the separate breakfast kitchen immediately adjacent, to ensure that the Seiberlings’ eggs and toast arrived piping hot.

Stan Hywet is outstanding for its extensive gardens. These are fascinating to stroll around, and also provide magical views from every window of the house. The main gardens were designed by Warren H. Manning at the time the house was built, and the current English Garden is the 1929 creation of Ellen Biddle Shipman. It is rare to find works by these two landscape designers both well-maintained and open to the public.

The Birch Alley

The English Garden

Pool in English Garden

Glimpse of house from rear garden
This article doesn't even begin to cover the many features of this estate. We were unable to visit the Lodge or the Greenhouse that day, but it is impossible to miss the old stables and carriage house, which now serves as the entrance gate, gift shop and refreshment area. You need to sit down and relax a bit after exploring Stan Hywet, and this is even more enjoyable when the tables are set up in the original stalls. Even the stables were designed with the attractiveness, spaciousness and perfection of every detail that was life at Stan Hywet. 

This stable was never meant to be hidden from view.

Refreshments served in the original stalls.

Stan Hywet was always intended to make people comfortable, first the Seiberlings and their guests in the early 1900’s, and now the public. The motto that adorns the house, Non Nobis Solum  (Not For Us Alone) seems to have been taken to heart, and infuses the spirit of hospitality that is still there to greet you.

A covered porch/walkway overlooking the gardens.

All interior photos, plus the aerial view, courtesy Stan Hywet Hall. All other photos taken by the author.


  1. Hello:
    This is indeed a magnificent looking house and set so beautifully within its landscaped garden. What a treat. We know that we should have loved to join you on this visit.

    And, what a difference it makes when somewhere has guided tours with knowledgeable guides to really help one to get under the skin of a place. That always has a great appeal for us.

    The English garden looks to be immaculately maintained and has so much of interest too. The Birch Alley has a particular appeal and its capacity to draw one on deeper into the garden. We love its simplicity and green shade in a garden is so very welcome on hot summer days.

    And, as for the vulcanised rubber console table. Well, surely that would be something that the neighbours would have been envious of!!!

    1. Hello Jane and Lance, I wish you had been there with us. It would have been interesting to get an authentic English reaction to this Tudor Revival. Of course, the goal of this house was modern comfort mixed with traditional atmosphere, not absolute authenticity.

      I should have mentioned that both guided and self-guided tours are available. The rubber table reminded me a lot of gutta percha, although I never saw a gutta percha object this big.

  2. Hello, Parnassus,

    Thanks for a splendid tour of Stan Hywet. I visited the estate 40 years ago this summer, so your posting not only brought back memories, but sharpened them, too. I don't remember the carriage house being used as a visitor center at that time, so I missed out on having a meal in the horse stalls, which I would have found appealing.

    As I look at this posting and the concurrent one by Stefan of Architect Design, I'm struck by the fact that the moguls of the early 20th century (with the exception of the Newport crowd) appeared to be more interested in quality than quantity.

  3. Hello Mark, You must have been there when Irene Seiberling Harrison, Frank Seiberling's daughter who lived to 108, was still living on the estate and greeting people. Were you able to converse with her?

    I was thinking of Stan Hywet when I read Architect Design on Bryn Athyn and Carinwood ( Buildings like these which reflect the active interest of their owners are so much more interesting and vital than fancy estates which are simply ordered by the 10,000 square feet.

    1. I never met Irene Seiberling Harrison, but now that you mention it, I saw much less of the estate than you apparently did. Perhaps she was still in residence.

    2. I understand that she lived in the gate lodge, not the main house. When we went, there were several levels of touring available. We chose to be self-guided; perhaps on my next visit I'll opt for the "Nooks and Crannies" tour--it sounds like my cup of tea.

  4. I love the porch to the house - it has an Arts and Crafts appearance to it. I enjoy the way they utilise stable blocks today by making them into eating places and shops to browse. The English garden pool is lovely and particularly nicely framed by yourself. You would never guess that the console table on the landing was made out of vulcanised rubber.

    1. Hello Rosemary, I agree that there is an Arts and Crafts sensibility to this house, an escape from the Industrial society that the Seiberlings were such an important part of.

      The small porch was integral with a side garden, and provided a different mood than other approaches to the house. The English garden was at a lower level, and to arrive there you go through a stone walkway which really prepares you for entering this secluded garden.

  5. Hello, Parnassus -
    Thank you for the tour of Stan Hywet Hall. Fantastic estate! I am in love with the gardens and breakfast room. The latter is absolutely charming....beautiful wall of doors, windows and transoms. To me, it feels very much like a conservatory or garden room. Many thanks for visiting my blog. I'm delighted to discover yours.
    Cheers from DC,

    1. Hello Loi, For such a large house, Stan Hywet seems very comfortable and livable. In the breakfast room, while the leaded windows lead the eye outdoors, the side facing the windows has some of the nicest paneling and carved woodwork in the house.

      I am enjoying the unique vision and talents you display in Tone on Tone, and am looking forward to future installments.

    2. Thank you! I am interested in reading more about Taiwan. Have you blogged about Taiwan in the past? My parents were born and lived in Fujian....across from Taiwan. Please feel free to email me links to any posts on Taiwan.

    3. Hi again, You make me feel guilty for neglecting all there is in Taiwan. I have a few posts planned, but need a few sunny days for pictures. In the meantime, I do have one post on the Taipei Lantern Festival:

  6. Replies
    1. Glad you liked Stan Hywet. People sometimes don't realize all that there is in Ohio.

  7. Great photos and nice post !

  8. Hello Olympia, Thanks for the compliment, but these photos barely hint at all of Stan Hywet's treasures.

  9. I have long admired this house, surely one of the vey best of its type. It didn't know about the gardens, though. I hope to visit some day.

    1. Stan Hywet does have a special aura about it. I hope you make it there. Akron has a number of fine house museums in addition to Stan Hywet, and of course there are many attractions in northern Ohio generally.


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