Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hower House

The view of the front entrance of Hower House on Fir Hill.

Take a Tour of Hower House
by Joanna Wilson

If you're like me, you've driven by Hower House many times over the years and wondered about the elegance of the original residents.  The property which now belongs to the University of Akron is on the National Historic Landmark registry.   Last Saturday, a friend and I decided to take the guided tour and discover for ourselves what an interesting place we have right here in our own hometown.

The Hower House has three floors of fine furnishings.

The house was built in 1871 by John Henry Hower, an Akron industrialist.  Though no photographs are allowed on the inside of the building, there are three floors of gorgeous furniture and fixtures filling 28 rooms.  The first floor includes a dining room, music room, library, and other spaces.  The second floor features several bedrooms, and the third floor has a large ballroom of sorts--a room clearly intended for entertaining.  Three generations of the Hower family lived in the home for one hundred years before the mansion was gifted to the University of Akron in 1970.

The Carriage House has been open for two years to visitors.

In recent years, a new building behind the home has been renovated and opened to visitors.  It is the Carriage House which houses several of the Hower family's vehicles which includes several restored horse drawn carriages.

The mansion is filled with Victorian furnishings that the family collected from all over the world.  It's fun to scan the titles of the books in the library and imagine one of the Hower's reading a Victorian novel while sitting on that grand front porch.  And, I have to admit how excited I was to see  Spode dinnerware displayed in the cabinet in the dining room.  I've seen enough Antiques Roadshow to recognize the English pottery company's reputation for fine china.  

If you enjoy surrounding yourself with Victorian-style decorations, you must check out the Cellar Door museum store located in the basement of Hower House.  They sell a wide variety of notions that reflect the Victorian era including books, tea sets, clothing, knick knacks, and toys.

Hower House is located at 60 Fir Hill, Akron, OH 44325--just off E. Market.  Free parking is accessible from S. Forge Street.
Hower House website:
(330) 972-6909
Admission: $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $2 for students
Guided Tours: Wednesdays-Saturdays: noon to 3:30pm (February-October)
Self-Guided Tours offered November, December, and holidays

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