Birdhouse in the Wild Garden, Stan Hywet Hall

Birdhouse, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Akron, Ohio.

Birdhouse, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Akron, Ohio.

I shot this on a fall day back in the autumn of 2012 at the famed Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, in Akron. The grounds of this former estate of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. founder F.A. Seiberling are filled with a wide variety of floral life.

Seiberling made his fortune in the rubber business, helping to put Akron, Ohio, on the map as the rubber capital of the world. Seiberling and his brother could’ve named their company after themselves; after all, that’s what so many entrepreneurs do. Instead, they named the company for Charles Goodyear, the man who basically is responsible for the entire rubber industry; Goodyear himself invented the process for the vulcanization of rubber.

Designed by Charles Schneider, the 64,500-foot Manor House was built between 1912 and 1915. Surely the Seiberlings and their guests kept plenty warm during Northeast Ohio’s chilly winters – the home boasts 23 fireplaces.

When the Seiberlings bought the property  for the site of their new home, much of it was a stone quarry – whose Olde English translation, by the way, is Stan Hywet. The place with the historic name would go on the host historic moments, too.

A long list of celebrities slept there, the likes of Will Rogers and Shirley Temple, house guests who entertained in the music room, which featured a 2,650-pipe Aeolian Organ. The Gate Lodge is where Bill W. and Dr. Bob were introduced and formulated plans for what eventually became Alcoholics Anonymous.

The gardens were designed by famed American landscape architect Warren Manning, who studied under Frederick Law Olmsted. Some of the more famous projects the young Manning worked on are the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition and John Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, in Asheville, N.C.

One of Olmsted’s clients whom Manning worked for was Cleveland-based shipping tycoon William G. Mather – as in Mather Mansion, which still stands on Euclid Avenue on the campus of Cleveland State University. Several years later, Manning was designing the gardens at Stan Hywet, employing his own “wild garden” style that is apparent on the grounds of the Seiberling homestead.

The Stan Hywet estate is many things: Museum, historic home, architectural gem, horticultural cornucopia and center of community events fit for the entire family. One of its huge highlights is the annual Ohio Mart, a four-day, juried arts & crafts show attended by about 15,000 people each October.

My wife and I bring the kids to visit several times a year. And we love the place. So do my in-laws. In fact, they’re who bought us our membership. I highly recommend a visit. Bring your camera, too. There are eight historic gardens as well as five historic buildings and plenty of other areas for parents and kids to explore.

Check out the Web site at for more info. For more on the gardens, visit

– Tom Mulloy