August 19 Stan Hywet

Good morning. This post is the result of two visits to Stan Hywet, near Akron, Ohio, in October of last year and August of this year.

Most of the interior photos will be from the first visit, and the glorious landscape photos were taken this year. P1020083

Stan Hywet is Old English for “stone quarry” as much of the stone used to construct the house was quarried nearby. The owners were the Seiberling family, who were founders of the Goodrich Rubber Company, and hence, very rich. Mrs. S. was very artistic, and had the idea that she wanted their home to resemble an English Tudor manorhouse, and they took several trips to England to check things out (and bought parts of some houses to install directly in theirs.) Construction began in 1912, and soon ran so over budget that Mr. S. began camping out in the unfinished structure to keep an eye on costs. I never did find out how much it cost, in the end.

The faithful adherence to Tudor architecture is very obvious, and the woodwork is of extraordinary detail. I found I could look at any paneling, and be amazed. Look at these:

Even the kitchen/servants’ areas are beautifully made with lots of natural light:

Most of the many bedrooms have an en suite bathroom, which was an amazingly good idea so early in the 20th Century. There’re big tubs for soaking, and enclosed showers with huge showerheads. I wanted to try one out. Quite of few of the S. children returned with their families to Stan Hywet, as well as indigent elderly relatives, their own parents, and other strays that were welcomed and sheltered in such very nice digs.

They even had a swimming pool in the basement:


Mrs. S. was also very involved in the gardens, and hired several noted landscape architects to help her out. There was even a young woman landscape architect, Ellen Biddle,  who designed Mrs. S.’s favorite, the English Garden.

After Mr. & Mrs. S. died, their children realized they didn’t have the funds, energy, nor interest in maintaining the huge estate. Arrangements were made, and a non-profit was formed to administer and preserve the estate. This was great because everything was basically left just as it was in the heyday–all the furniture, old telephones, kitchen equipment–visitors now see the house in the same way as when owners had lived in it.

Our visit in August had a lot more foliage than we saw in October. These two plants especially caught my eye:

The scarlet one is the inside of a very complicated blossom. I loved the little trumpet-shaped bits. The green globes looked like almost translucent lanterns–you could see light through the plant fiber; they seemed to glow. They were so amazing that I asked a gardener what they could be, and she, rather abashed, said softly “Hairy balls.” Of course everyone I tell this story to bursts out laughing. We looked up the Latin name, and it’s  so much easier in English. One more photo of the garden: P1020327

I want to grow sunflowers like these. I noticed lots of bees and bugs and winged insects having a wonderful old time with all the blossoms. The gardener told me they’re going to make a pollinator garden for the bees, a ways away from the rest of the garden, so the visitors and bees won’t have unpleasant encounters. There’s a good reason to come back and visit again.P1020095

Here’s a final photo of the estate, the birch allee. Enjoy a walk there.


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