Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On November 10th I had the wonderful pleasure of touring the beautiful Hower House located on the grounds of the University of Akron. This 28 room Victorian mansion in all its grandeur was decorated in a “Winter Wonderland” theme by many loving volunteers and friends of the home.

Built by John Henry Hower (an Akron Industrialist) and completed in 1871, this beautiful Second Empire Italianate style home became a National treasure in 1973. As you begin your tour , you realize you have entered a grand home the minute you step into the entry hall and look up to see the beautiful stairway winding it’s way up three stories to the ballroom. As described on their website the floor plan of the home is in an “Akron Sunday School Plan” design for you architects out there. I just call it beautiful.

Each room has been decorated in a Winter Wonderland theme. One of my favorite decorated rooms was the Master Suite located on the second floor. Draped across the bed is a beautiful red “Santa” robe and a tea tray surely brought up by the maids for an evening cup of tea. The adjoining bath has a wonderful bubble bath waiting and the mantel has been decorated for the holiday, making sure all the stockings are hung by the "chimney with care". I would have no problem closing myself up in the library for an afternoon of solace.

Sylvia Johnson, Director and Linda Bussey, Assistant Director of the mansion, are both wonderful hosts. Their knowledge and love of the home is shared with all their guests. During my visit they explained about the history of the home and the family who built this magnificent mansion and how Jacob Henry Howard played such a role in our NE Ohio history.

The Hower House Holiday Tour hours are Wednesday, November 11, through Sunday, December 27. Guided Tours: Weds. Through Sat., noon to 3:30 pm Last tour one-half hour before closing. ** Special Sundays of the Season: Self-guided tours 1 – 4 pm Nov. 15, 22 & 29, Dec. 6, 13, 22, 29. $1.00 off each admission level Children 12 and under admitted free. Admission for guided tours:Admission for guided tours:$6.00 adults, $5.00 seniors (65), $2.00 students of any age Children 6 and under admitted free.

Keeping with the “Italianate” style, I would suggest after your tour you stop at a local Akron Italian institution less than 5 minutes from the mansion. Luigi’s Restaurant is located at 105 N. Main St. Akron (330.253.2999) This Italian restaurant has been serving up pasta and pizza since 1949. The decor is definetely "old" world Italian like you would see in many larger cities pizza establishments.

As always, we ask that when you visit these venues you let them know that sent you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ohio's Fall Leaves Trip #1

NE Ohio has some of the most beautiful fall leaves and with an abundance of parks there is no reason not to grab your camera and take some pictures.

(Sorry while I digress and have a “Martha” moment – I like to take photos every year and place the photos in inexpensive frames and place them on my coffee table for a pretty Fall display. You can also take them to your local Office Max, etc and have them laminated in a placemat format. Then place the mats on dining table for a beautiful look – include some fall leaves you collect also in the placemats!)

Okay, back to Ohio’s fall leaves. One of my favorite spots to take photos is Squire's Castle which is located in the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metrorparks, Willoughby, Ohio.

Feargus B Squire, founder of the Standard Oil Company purchased 525 acres of land to build an English country estate that would remind him of his home country. Squire’s Castle was built in 1890’s and was to be used as a gatekeeper’s house for the future country estate. But his dream would never come to reality. After the three story gatehouse was built it became his weekend retreat. The gatehouse was said to have had tiffany glass, carved mouldings and elaborate furnishings. The property was later sold in 1922.

In 1925 the Cleveland Metroparks acquired the castle and land. Today, the Castle is open to the public for free. It is nothing more than a shell but still has a certain amount of urban legend mystery to the home. And if nothing else the beauty of this building against the back drop of the fall leaves, makes for some beautiful pictures. Children of all ages enjoy exploring the shell. There are picnic tables nearby if you would like to have a picnic.

As legend has it Rebecca Squire, wife of Feargus purportedly haunts the castle. The story says that she was frightened one night and tripped and broke her neck. The reality is she died in Wickliffe, Ohio in 1929 after the property was sold in 1922. But the urban legend lives on and if you Google Squire’s Castle you are sure to come across some of the many reported ghostly happenings. I for one have never captured an “orb” in any of my photos but you never know???? I think it adds to the whole place – fall, leaves, ghost?

Here are a few directions for the Castle. Take I-90 to Route 91 (Willoughby Exit) to Chardon Road (Route 6) to Chagrin River Road. The castle is on the right-hand side. From I-271, Take the Wilson Mills Road exit. Go east on Wilson Mills Road to Chagrin River Road. Turn left onto Chagrin River Road. Travel 2.3 miles. Entrance to Squire's Castle will be on the left.

For additional history on Squire’s Castle I like this guide to the History of our local Matroparks:
I would also recommend anyone of our NE Ohio wineries for dinner. Here is a link to Ohio Wines

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Trip Back in Time to Historic Summit County

This trip is somewhat of a sentimental journey for me. When I was a little girl my mother would drive by this home and say “your cousin lives there right there across from that mansion and she is friends with one of the children”. Well, needless to say all I wanted to do was call my cousin up and see what she could tell me about this house and who had grown up there. It was the most beautiful home I had ever seen coming from a small town. It was grand.

As I grew older I realized that it was open to the public for tours. It took me 19 years to finally take the tour of the home that I always said I would own one day (not sure what day I meant) and it left me with a “Gatsby” magical feeling. The family of this home played such an important role in our NE Ohio history. When you think of Akron Ohio you have to think about the rubber industry and how it changed all our lives and this family was very much apart of Akron's rubber industry.
(Photo courtesy of Stan Hywet)

So, your first stop is to Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Akron, Ohio. It is considered one of the best Tudor revival homes in United States. Built 1912 – 1915 by the Seiberling family its grandeur is well worth a day trip. The gardens are maintained by a grounds crew and the tour is very interesting. (I had the distinct pleasure on one of my visits to have a grandchild give the tour, great perspective on the home). I don’t want to spoil the tour by telling you additional facts so this is all I will say about this home. To find out additional information and about special home events see 714 North Portage Path, Akron, Ohio 330-836-5533

Stan Hywet usually opens @10am to 6pm. Times do vary so please refer to their website linked above. After a morning/early afternoon tour of the home and gardens I tend to find I need nourishment. A wonderful local stop that will take you back in time is Swenson's. Swenson's is an old fashioned drive thru located approx. 10 west minutes from the mansion. (40 S Hawkins Ave. Akron). These old fashioned hamburgers have been pleasing area palettes for many years. I seem to prefer the traditional Galley Burger and side order of those wonderful onion rings along with the house drink a Californian.

For your third stop since you are in the neighborhood I would suggest stopping at West Point Market on 1711 W. Market Street and right around the corner from Swensons. You will find a unique selection of foods. From premium wines to Belgian chocolates to a various selection of imported foods that you are going to be glad your belly is full from Swensons. But my motto is there is always room for chocolate.

Now we are off to our next stop which is the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Depending on the day there is always something happening in the park. There are two links I review for the days activities: Day In the Valley and Cuyahoga Valley National As I head north from Stan Hywet on Akron Peninsula Road I like to look at the carved Indian in the Valley and walk the strip of shops in the small town of Peninsula. They have a wonderful old fashioned bookstore I always seem to find myself spending a few minutes in. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Rail Road has a stop in Peninsula and offers special events on the train certain evenings. Check out

My final stop before heading for a nice dinner is Brandywine Falls. Nestled on Brandywine Road in northern Summit County, Sagamore Hills. Decking takes you down to the falls for a wonderful view and photo session. Truly a NE Ohio gem. To tired to go home? There is a B & B right next door to the falls as well as another 5 minutes from the falls. Both are charming B&B's. See our Accomodations page for additional motels/hotels and B&B's.

For dinner I would suggest the Courtyard in Brecksville, Casa DÁngelo's in Macedonia or Guisseppe's in Northfield Center. All establishments are within 15 city minutes from the Falls and offer a wonderful selection of appetizing dishes. If you want sandwiches to steak try The Courtyard. For pasta go to Casa DÁngelos or Guisseppe's.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Northern Ohio Tourism One Day Trip #1 - 2009 - Cleveland's Little Italy, Italian Food Store and Lakeview Cemetery

Some mornings you wake up and you just feel Italian. Dress in your red shirt and green khaki pants and load an empty cooler with ice in the trunk. Where you are going today, you are going to want to bring home some food for eating later. Breakfast: This is a tough one. Knowing where your stomach will end up you may want to just grab a small little healthy yogurt, bowl of cereal and of course an Italian Coffee at anyone of our local Coffee shops. Then it is off to the east side of Cleveland.

Stop #1: The first stop in our Day #1 journey will lead you to Gallucci’s Italian Market located at 6610 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland’s Midtown Corridor. For many taking this trip it will be the first time in a long time to see the new Euclid Corridor. At Gallucci’s you will be met with a wonderful “cast of characters” who will help you make your meat and cheese selections along with the other delectable goodies located in the bakery and throughout the store. They do offer a take out lunch consisting of homemade pizza to pasta to subs. When you are at the deli please ask for “Kevin”, according to Kevin he is the “good Kevin, the one that works there”. As you can tell he has a wonderful dry wit and will make your experience enjoyable, as well as all the other store employees. Don’t be afraid to let them know your not sure what to buy. When I go I like to stock-up on the grated Romano Cheese, sharp provolone and traditional Italian deli meats. Of course in the bakery I purchase a few loaves of Italian Bread as well as a new love, a loaf of Portuguese bread. Did someone say homemade cannolli? And don’t forget the many varieties of olives and their homemade tomato sauce. If you live outside the Cleveland area or you are flying do not worry they do ship!

Stop #2: Now that your cooler is full and your tummy has been reborn it is off for a little nature hiking at Lakeview Cemetery (located at 12316 Euclid Ave. Cleveland). I know what you are thinking a cemetery? Lakeview Cemetery is not your ordinary cemetery. It is rich in history and the final resting place of our 20th President – James A. Garfield. President Garfield is the only President that lays In State. The Monument is open daily April 1st through November 19th from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM and is staffed with a guide. The view from the monument of downtown Cleveland and the surrounding grounds is breathtaking. The Wade Chapel is another must visit while at the cemetery. It was built in honor of Jeptha Wade, founder of The Western Union Telegraph Company, by his grandson. What I find fascinating is the interior was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.Let’s also not forget the see the final resting place of “Rockefeller”, “Elliot Ness” and many other famous residents. Click here for more info:

Stop #3: Now off to Little Italy. An authentic little Italian community that has kept all its Italian charm. Located along Mayfield Ave – Murray Hill, there are bakeries to enjoy the faire, coffee shops to sit and enjoy the view as well as galleries filled with local artesian ware to browse. For additional info: http://www.littleitalycleveland.comFor dinner may we suggest the Guarino’s Restaurant (12309 Mayfield Rd, 216.231.3100). Located on the main street of Little Italy our party found the food to be very “Italian” and the cost not to prohibited.

Stop #4:Now what to do for the evening? How about a movie. A Great place to let your stomach take a rest and your feet. Cedar Lee Theatres located at 2163 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights. 440.717.4696. What I like about this theater they offer a chance to view independent films as well as Hollywood films. I have seen many great independent films at this theater. After your movie you may want to finish your Italian evening off with a glass of wine at a local are pub of your choosing.