Daytime tours resume on April 2, 2024.
Each year thousands of visitors enjoy Stan Hywet's artfully landscaped gardens and grounds.Originally a vast estate of more than 3,000 acres, the remaining 70 acres provide an aura of beauty and color that flow into the natural surroundings.
Designed between 1912 and 1915 by renowned American landscape architect Warren Manning, Stan Hywet's grounds represent one of the finest remaining examples of Mr. Manning's private work in the United States. In addition, the English Garden, redesigned by Ellen Biddle Shipman in 1929 (and restored in the 1990s) is one of the only Shipman gardens open to the public.
Warren Manning and Manor House architect Charles Schneider worked closely together, and the result is a remarkable blending of nature and architecture at Stan Hywet.
Each of the gardens at Stan Hywet provides its own magic and history for visitors. One of the most beloved is the English Garden, designed by pioneer female landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman.
The dramatic color and blooms in each garden change with the seasons, giving visitors hours of enjoyment and wonderful photo opportunities.
The Birch Tree Allee And Vista
The long covered porch at the north end of the Manor House directly connects from the main floor hallway of the home to the breathtaking Birch Tree Allée, a 550-foot long "alleyway" of trees consisting of more than 100 gray birches growing from the original root stock. Over time, the birch trees have naturally formed a corridor in which a contrast between sunlight and shadows play in the overhead canopy of leaves. The resulting dappled effect of light and dark is echoed by the bark of the trees and by randomly spaced stepping-stones.
When walking along the path lined with vinca and lily of the valley, landscaper Warren Manning's influence is apparent: a series of cross vistas reveal glimpses of the North Lawn and Bowling Green to the west, and the fruit tree allées in the Great Garden to the east.
At the end of the Birch Tree Allée is the Birch Tree Allée Vista, a stunning overlook of the Lagoon, with distant views of the Cuyahoga Valley. At the end of the Allée are the Tea Houses, a pair of garden pavilions made of stone, timber and slate. Popular in the 18th century, Stan Hywet's tea houses bring an ancient tradition into the early years of the 20th century, providing shelter from unpleasant weather --as well as a place to rest and enjoy the countryside or lush garden of the nearby lagoon.
BREAKFAST ROOM GARDEN
Awash with color and filled with the sweet fragrance from its many blooms, the Breakfast Room Garden has been restored to its original design. The blue, white, and gold color scheme present in the Breakfast Room is echoed in the plantings outside in this garden.
Throughout the year, The Dell—a wild, naturalistic woodland garden seems like a sanctuary. Drifts of daffodils in spring, and the ephemeral wildflowers bloom briefly in early summer. Dazzling foliage of crimson and gold oaks and maples adorn the Dell in autumn. The garden’s special features include a stone underpass that allows visitors to walk from the enclosed and shady Dell, under the London Plane Tree Allée and out into the sunlit expanse of the Great Meadow. The natural amphitheater formed by rock ledges that rim the open area opposite the Dell entrance made it the perfect site for amateur theatrical productions by the Seiberling family. The Seiberlings’ daughter, Virginia Seiberling, was married in this garden location in 1919.
THE ENGLISH GARDEN
The walled English Garden has often been described as Gertrude Seiberling’s favorite garden refuge. Although Warren Manning created the first design for the English Garden, it didn’t match Mrs. Seiberling’s original vision for the space. Manning later recommended that the Seiberlings hire renowned female landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman to redesign the garden. Shipman’s initial plan included a variety of sun-loving perennials but, as the surrounding trees grew into larger canopies, it became apparent that shade-loving perennials would be more appropriate.
Between the years 1989-1992, the garden underwent extensive restoration, funded in part by the Akron Garden Club. The resulting garden, with 3,300 perennials, is an accurate and complete re-creation of Shipman’s original design plan for the area and is one of the only intact Shipman gardens open to the public. The beautiful reflecting pool, lych gate and garden statue, The Garden of the Water Goddess, help give this garden some of its unique architectural qualities.
Today, the Akron Garden Club continues to support and care for the English Garden, and more recently, provided funding to restore the iconic Four Seasons statues, two of which are positioned at the entrance near the South Terrace. The others grace the staircase leading to this terrace.
THE GRAPE ARBOR
Extending east from the Birch Tree Allée toward the Corbin Conservatory, the Grape Arbor was a favorite place for the Seiberling grandchildren to play. Throughout the summer and early fall, the Grape Arbor features shrub roses and dangling Concord, Niagara, and Delaware grape clusters which serve as reminders of a time when the Great Garden was utilitarian in purpose.
The Grape Arbor was restored in 2014 because its original vertical hollow masonry piers had “calcification” — a condition that causes the masonry pier to curl or the top to bend. The piers and wooden trellis (rebuilt twice before) connecting the piers were restored and rebuilt.
THE GREAT GARDEN
The Great Garden originally consisted of the Rose Garden, Grape Arbor, and 15 rectangular beds used for vegetables. Today, the restored Great Garden not only features three pedestrian allées, flowerbeds, and the rose garden, but modern irrigation as well.
The pedestrian allées leading from the service court to the Grape Arbor, contain apple trees anchored in annual and perennial borders that line the long turf pathways. The flower beds are contained within 2.5 miles of steel bed edging, and the plants are watered by 535 sprinkler heads and two miles of drip irrigation fed by more than five miles of irrigation lines.
The flowers of the Great Garden are used for both fresh and dried flower arrangements that grace the Manor House year-round. The restored Rose Garden was originally located at the south end of the Manor House, but relocated to the Great Garden in the 1920s—after it was discovered that the garden received too much shade from the nearby tree canopy. Throughout the spring, summer, and early fall, the wide assortment of blooms splash color throughout the Great Garden and offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of florals and foliage.
THE GREAT MEADOW
Reminiscent of lawns created for traditional Tudor English country homes, the Great Meadow was originally called the living lawn and serves as a seemingly vast and uninterrupted open space.
Upon entering the estate through the Front Gate, guests approach the Manor House along the gently curving drive that makes its way through an apple orchard. When in bloom, the orchard creates a naturalistic allée over the drive. The apple orchard was restored in the 1990s: portions of the original apple trees were grafted and then replanted.
The Great Meadow subtly directs viewers across the broad sweeps of lawn and toward the Manor House. Larger, high-canopied trees frame the house, enhancing the natural setting and creating the long-established character and rural beauty sought by Warren Manning.
In collaboration with Japanese landscape architect T.R. Otsuka, Warren Manning designed the Japanese Garden in 1916. Its pervasive mood is tranquility, or “yugen.”
Early photographs of the garden reveal that the original design consisted of gently curving earth crisscrossed by waterways and decorated with small evergreens, ornamental maples, shrubs, and ground covers. Additional features included a waterfall behind which a fabricated, cement conglomerate representation of Mt. Fuji loomed. The Japanese Garden was restored to this original design in 2010, and included restoration of the two 100,000 gallon cisterns below the Japanese Gardens. These cisterns, originally the water source for the entire Estate, are now used to irrigate the historic gardens.
The name “Stan Hywet,” or “stone quarry” in Old English, was named for a prominent feature of the Estate—a sandstone quarry that is now the site of the Lagoon. The old quarry — thought by Warren Manning to be the feature that would give the Estate its greatest distinction, was a canvas for his dramatic and naturalistic garden design.
The largest of the Lagoon's pools is 15 feet deep and was created from the abandoned quarry operation. Two other pools were added to connect the waterways.
In addition to being a beautiful and serene garden, historic photos reveal that the Seiberling family also used this area for recreational purposes. There is a tennis court at the south end and the Lagoon itself was a popular place for swimming, fishing, canoeing and ice skating.
This tranquil area of Stan Hywet was restored in 2020.
THE WEST TERRACE & OVERLOOK
The West Terrace is quite possibly the quintessential example of landscape architect Warren Manning’s ability to blend both house and landscape. It is also a fine example of the ideal English garden arrangement. The broad terrace near the house joins open lawn and then finally stretches to the trees and a beautiful view of the Cuyahoga Valley in the distance.
The creation of the West Terrace involved placing the Manor House at an angle that allowed for dramatic views whether one was standing indoors or outside. Perhaps its most dramatic feature is that it can be seen from the east lawn in front of the Manor House when the doors through the Great Hall are open. From here , the view extends to the West Terrace Overlook in the distance, creating a perfect vantage point to view the Summer Solstice which appears in the very center without fail, on the appointed evening. In this way, the vista appears almost to be a breathtaking painting hung on the wall of the Great Hall.
The restoration of the West Terrace was completed in 2010.