The Stan Hywet Playgarden
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, a 70-acre historic american country estate, is located in Akron, Ohio.
by Josh Tooker, PLA
Landscape Architecture by The Pattie Group Inc.
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, a 70-acre historic american country estate, is located in Akron, Ohio. Industrialist, F. A. Seiberling, a co-founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, built the property with his wife Gertrude in 1915. The couple raised their family, conducted business, politics, and entertained members of the various arts. It is the nation's sixth largest historic home open to the public, and Akron's first and largest National Historic Landmark. The estate is accredited with the American Alliance of Museums.
Commissioned by Stan Hywet's directors, The Pattie Group, Inc., of Novelty, Ohio, designed the "Playgarden" as a 5,000 square foot family space that combines historical, natural and environmental education, with lots of fun. Throughout the interactive garden spaces, children and adults learn about the history of the rubber and tire industry and its impact on Akron, as well as the history of the exquisite mansion and gardens built by the Seiberling family.
Guests enter the Playgarden through an arched pergola that mimics the grand arched entry of the Seiberling's Tudor Revival manor house, and encounter the Seiberlings' deep love for music. A sculptural centerpiece in the pergola is based on the pipe organ that belonged to the family, and interactive buttons within the archway cause organ, piano, and harp music to play, as delightful bubbles blow out from the pipes.
In homage to the tire industry and Mr. Seiberlings love for automobiles, a Model-T sits in the garden surrounded by bikes and trikes. The vehicle's audio comes to life when the pedals are used. Plantings, which spill out of the grill of the old Ford and a recycled tire plantar, add fragrance and beauty to the garden.
Children can walk into the Tudor doghouse, built as a tribute to the Seiberlings' beloved St. Bernard. The doghouse comes complete with an educational living roof and is surrounded with a sand dig pit. A solstice splash fountain is deigned to be great fun, and curiously educational. The pavement pattern of the fountain is based on the flooring pattern in the music hall. The extraordinarily designed layout of Stan Hywet's manor home and terrace fountain, allows guests to view the sunset of the summer solstice perfectly aligned through two doors, and centered directly on the terrace fountain. Sensors in the Playgarden's fountain activate water sprays in the direction of the summer and winter solstices, adding a cool and fun surprise to passing guests. The sensors also reduce water usage.
History notes that the Seiberlings were particularly fond of outdoor family activities, and lawn sports. To that end, a lawn bowling alley was incorporated into the design. Created with a padded synthetic lawn, for durability, it is lined with dogwoods, specifically designed to mimic the birch all?e found in one of the estate's historic gardens.
A final element in the garden is the children's adventure house, which was designed as a replica of the estate's carriage house, built with simulated brick in the Tudor style of the original. Features include a climbing wall to the second floor where a gargoyle's mouth is the start of a marble race game. It is interesting to note, the estate was built on a former quarry, once used to make glass marbles. A rope bridge connects to another room that has interactive buttons which showcase the native animal life that is found on the property, while a 15 foot twisting slide makes for an exciting exit. Referencing the estate's elliptical garden, the adventure house is encircled by a wall of evergreen trees.
Plant selection to complete the garden space was based on a multitude of factors. Native plants for low maintenance areas are blended with plants found in the original gardens, to bring in continuity. The planting schedule was designed for seasonal flower color, texture and fragrance. Additional plantings were designated for interchangeable holiday displays and decorations, making the garden a fun, multi-seasonal attraction.
Ultimately, The Pattie Group, Inc. designed Stan Hywet's Playgarden to allow children and adults alike to experience, and imagine what it would have been like to live at the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens Estate over 100 years ago, and to appreciate the historical value of this great American manor house, its grounds and the visionaries who built it.