Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Akron History: Founder's Day and Alcoholics Anonymous Landmarks

The following essay will appear in the June 10thth/issue #7 of The Devil Strip--our new, twice monthly, arts & culture newspaper in Akron. Issue #7 will soon be available--go out and pick up a copy or read it on-line.  As many of you know, I love researching and writing about Akron history. I'll be writing a regular column about Akron history for The Devil Strip in upcoming issues.  If you have any suggestions or requests for particular topics, let me know.

855 Ardmore in West Akron--Dr. Bob's Home and Museum.

Akron, OH: Where Bill W. and Dr. Bob Changed the World
by Joanna Wilson

You’re so Akron if...you hear the louder-than-usual rumble of motorcycle engines on W. Market Street in June and smile knowingly that it must be Founder’s Day. This year, the annual Founder’s Day celebrations take place June 12th, 13th, and 14th in Akron--the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous.  2015 happens to be the 80th anniversary of the founding of A.A.--the self help group that has had an enormous impact on our society.  Not only does the group help alcoholics achieve sobriety but it introduced the Twelve Step program for self-improvement.  The Founder’s Day celebrations bring visitors from all over the country and the world to our city to honor the group’s origins and to join with others who share the recovery experience.

Front yard marker at Dr. Bob's Home

The roaring sound of motorcycles on W. Market Street is an annual experience because it has become popular with AA members who own bikes to make the annual journey.  Akron’s west side has several landmarks important to those commemorating Founder’s Day and these locations have become must-see destinations over the years.  At the top of the list is Dr. Bob’s Home at 855 Ardmore Avenue.  The modest arts and crafts home was where Dr. Bob, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and his wife lived for years.  The Akron home has since been turned into a museum with its own gift shop. 

Another popular destination is the Gate Lodge at Stan Hywet.  This is the place where Dr. Bob first met Bill W.--the other co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.  At meetings at the Gate Lodge, the two men shared their experiences and understood each other’s struggles with alcohol.  Although they didn’t originate the concept of group meetings, it was the power of the shared experience that convinced them to incorporate it as an important element of A.A.

Dr. Bob's Way, also known as Olive Street, runs adjacent to Summa St. Thomas Hospital.

You’ll probably also see people gathering at Mount Peace Cemetery on Aqueduct Street in West Akron.  The rolling green span is Dr. Bob’s final resting place and a popular place to honor the man who dedicated his life to helping others. Another destination of historical importance includes the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel (now the Mayflower Manor apartments) downtown where Bill W. used the public phone in the lobby to call Dr. Bob--the man who would help to change his life.  Additional locations include the A.A. Archives located on N. Main Street, and the Dr. Bob’s Way street sign (Olive Street) next to Summa St. Thomas Hospital in North Hill which acknowledges Dr. Bob’s work alongside Sister Ignatia Gavin with alcoholic patients.


  1. This clamoring city speaks to the nation in all its substance. Also, what do you figure its pith is? The very quintessence of India is its stunning differing qualities! This is the thing that makes it unique in relation to the next 191 nations on the planet. Where Alcoholics Anonymous was founded