Decorating a 64,000 square foot home, in addition to a gate lodge, carriage house and conservatory for Christmas is a daunting proposition. The sprawling 70-acre estate where the properties are located requires extraordinary assiduousness to fully suffuse it with the holiday spirit. Yet, it is a task that's been carried out for nearly a century at Stan Hywet Hall, and this year is no different.
The former estate of Akron rubber magnate F.A. Sieberling and his family, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is a lovingly maintained relic of Akron's industrial heyday. Since the family took ownership of the house in 1915, Christmas pageantry has been a seasonal fixture at the estate, and the tradition continues with "Deck The Hall", as the staff of Stan Hywet illuminate the estate with more than 500,000 lights and myriad festive displays.
“At Christmas 1940, the grandchildren of F.A. and Gertrude Seiberling performed A Christmas Carol for family and friends, so we thought it an appropriate theme for this year’s 'Deck the Hall'," says Chrissy Kozey, the education manager who collaborated with museum staff to plan each room on the manor home tour. "We chose scenes and quotes directly from the Dickens story, so when you walk through the house, you’re experiencing the story firsthand through Scrooge’s eyes.” The story literally comes to life with the tale's characters, portrayed by Stan Hywet’s History First Hand acting troupe, acting out scenes in various rooms of the Manor House. Many rooms on the tour depict scenes from A Christmas Carol, and other rooms provide information on Charles Dickens, the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era.
Visitors will find a suitably grand Christmas tree in the home's great hall, while the expansive music room's century-old Aeolian Organ fills the space with familiar Christmas tunes during tour hours and is then transformed into a lively chamber with performances every night during "Deck the Hall". Highlights include the Coventry High School Choral Group on Friday, December 3; the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church Choir on Thursday, December 9; Yusef Khan Men and Women’s Chorus on Sunday, December 12; High Street Christian Church's "Christmas Praise" on Sunday, December 19 and Thursday, December 23; and Todd Wilson performing on the Aeolian Organ on Thursday, December 30.
The library and dining room are tastefully tinseled in holiday décor, while the children's rooms do much to awaken even long-dormant Christmas cheer. One can imagine the silver-spoon Sieberling sons and daughters rising to the smell of steaming hot cider at their doors at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning – a Sieberling tradition. For the first time in many years, guests may stroll the recently restored West Terrace, which includes a 30-foot tall tree of lights on the West Terrace Overlook. The Corbin Conservatory will feature special holiday lighting, a photo opportunity with Victorian character cut-outs and giant fern “Christmas tree” decorated with poinsettia ornaments.
Dates for Deck the Hall are December 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 21-23, 26-30, from 5 to 8 pm. Deck the Hall starts with a Christmas tree lighting with Santa at 5:30 pm every evening in the Carriage House Courtyard. The Estate-wide event takes place at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, 714 North Portage Path, Akron, Ohio. Tickets to Deck the Hall may be purchased by phone by calling 330-315-3287, via the Stan Hywet website or at the ticket desk.