People travel to different sites in cities in America. If you were to ask what the top cities people are planning to visit, you can be assured that Akron, Ohio will not be on many lists. There are many great places to visit in the city of Akron. One of these great sites is the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens. It was the home of Franklin Augustus Seiberling. Who is Franklin Augustus Seiberling? You may not know about the name, but you are familiar with his famous product. What was his famous product? He is the co-founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and the company is still based in Akron to this day. This ‘American Country Estate’ and the surrounding gardens are a spectacular site to see and a great reason to visit the city of Akron.
Some of you are saying, “Wow. This is amazing. The co-founder of Goodyear builds a nice mansion in Akron. I am sure that this house is beautiful. However, he founded a rubber company. This place has nothing to do with the railroad. Therefore, you will not see me spending any part of a good year at this site.”
You have a very point. There is no railroad on this site, and the Seiberling family had nothing to do with the railroad. Therefore, you can say that this place has nothing to do with the railroad. However, you would be wrong.
Stan Hywet Hall was designed by Charles Schneider, an architect from Cleveland. It is designed after three homes in England that was visited by the family. The interior was designed by Hugo Huber from New York City, and the gardens was designed by Warren Manning from Boston. Although much of the stone was brought from a nearby quarry, much of the materials were brought in by train. Like Agecroft Hall in Richmond, Virginia and the Biltmore in Ashville, North Carolina, the railroad was a big contributor to the building of this fine structure. A special spur line was built from a nearby main line to bring materials to the site of the mansion literally to the front door. Sadly, the tracks were taken up when the mansion was completed, and there is little evidence of the track bed that remains.
Some of you are saying, “That is wonderful that a railroad is built to bring materials to the mansion. That is the whole story in a nutshell.”
John Seiberling, the father of Franklin Augustus Seiberling, was the owner of the Akron Street Railway Company in 1889. Two years later, Franklin became the secretary and treasurer of the railroad. It was the first long distance electric railroad operating between Akron and Cleveland. The railroad was sold in 1900 after it was not successful financially.
Was this the end of Seiberling family and the railroad? The answer is no.
Franklin Seiberling, while president of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, wanted a more efficient way of shipping his products by train other than the railroads that were already in Akron. The Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad was born. The railroad never connected Akron to Canton or Youngstown, but it did connect Akron to the town of Mogodore where it was able to connect to the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway. This connection brought growth to the city in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Some of you are saying, “That is so wonderful. Now you have given me a reason to visit Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens. However, there is one question: who is Stan Hywet? What great things is Stan famous for?”
You ask a very great question. Who is Stan Hywet? That is the wrong question to ask. The question is, ‘What is Stan Hywet?’ It is not a person. The name derives itself from an Old English term for a stone quarry. When you visit Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, you can also visit the quarry where some of the stones were quarried to build the house. It is part of the walking tour of the gardens.
The Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens consist of the tour of the mansion and its many rooms, a walk through its many gardens to include a Japanese garden, an English garden and a rose garden just to name a few, a conservatory, the stone quarry and the Gate House. While in the mansion, you will see a few railroad pictures of the wall in one of the upstairs hallways. Please note that you will need to set aside a couple of hours to see everything. There is plenty of walking necessary to see the entire site. It is located at 714 North Portage Path in Akron, Ohio. It is open from April to December. You can get information on admission, the different tours, directions and the different events at https://www.stanhywet.org/.
Now you have a reason to visit Akron, Ohio, and you have a reason to visit the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens.