Samantha and Carter are lively and curious children, so whenever I find an opportunity to take them somewhere or get them involved in something, as the Cat In The Hat says, we’re off for an adventure!
Recently I rediscovered Stan Hywet in Akron (the only National Historic Landmark in the city), a place I had taken my own children when they were young, but that I had forgotten about over the years. The advertising I had found stated that they were having a butterfly exhibit, and I thought that would be a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
The twins’ eyes were wide as we drove onto the grounds. This was the biggest yard they had ever seen! Stan Hywet was originally the 3,000-acre country estate of the Seiberling family, of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company fame. I can’t imagine how big that house must look to a 4 year old, considering how huge it looks to me. The grounds (only 70 acres remain as part of the estate today) are beautiful, with flowers and fruit trees, and even a giant chess set to play with in the garden.
The twins were again wide-eyed as we entered the butterfly exhibit. A variety of butterflies swooped and danced over flowers and bushes and milkweed. To enhance their experience even more, the children were given cotton balls soaked in nectar and allowed to attract these delicate creatures right to them. Butterflies landed on their clothes and in their hair, as well as on the cotton balls. If the gasps of delight were any indication, (and of course the tears when the butterflies flew away), the children enjoyed the experience immensely.
We wandered through the gardens, where “wild” butterflies were flitting from bush to bush, where apples were hanging from the trees, and a wedding with a beautiful princess (I’m not sure whose smile was widest, the bride when she heard that loudly whispered comment, or Samantha as she watched the beautiful bride and her bridesmaids proceed to the back of the garden).
One of the few remaining homes constructed during the American country estate building boom, Stan Hywet Hall is a beautiful example of the wealth and elegance that once existed in this country. The rooms are decorated much as they would have been from 1915 on, with many of the pieces in the home from the Seiberlings.
The children were fascinated by the music room, especially when the old pipe organ started to play. They were even more fascinated by the bearskin rug, complete with head and very large teeth. (A little later, in one of the upstairs bedrooms, Carter caught sight of a gun displayed on the wall, and proceeded to tell me how that was the gun that killed the bear because it tried to eat people. How I love their imagination!) It was amazing to see the indoor pool, the large kitchen, and the bedrooms with clothes carefully placed on the bed as though one of the Seiberlings were about to step into the beautiful garments.
All in all it was a wonderful day. I’m sure we will go back again, as we never explored the conservatory or the gate lodge. I’m guessing the children will be ready for another “adventure” by next weekend.
Published: July 16, 2012