Mrs. C and I have always had an interest in history and, specifically, our Presidents and their homes. So, our adventure in Ohio continues with a visit to the Rutherford B. Hayes home. His Presidential home, known as Spiegel Grove, is located in Fremont, Ohio. The estate was originally 125 acres; however, now just 25 acres remain. The grounds consist of the 31-room mansion, the First Presidential Library, and the tomb of President Hayes and his wife.
President Hayes was born in Delaware Ohio. He graduated from Kenyon College, then moved to Cincinnati in 1849 to study law. That is where he met his wife, Lucy Ware Webb. Lucy was to become the first Presidential wife to be referred to as the First Lady. She was also the first Presidential wife to have graduated from college.
Spiegel Grove was built in Fremont between 1849 and 1863 by Hayes’ uncle, Sardis. Its name, Spiegel, is derived from the German word for “mirror”. At the time the house was built, the image of the house would reflect in the pools of water after a rain. Today, there are still areas that develop these reflecting pools after a heavy rain.
The house was not opened to the public until 1966. A recent restoration in 2011 returned the home to how it was when the President and His wife lived there. The home has 31 rooms. They have an annual Christmas dinner there as a fundraising event. The meal is prepared as it would have been in 1870. We were told it is quite an event. However, since that’s my busy time, we were not able to experience this event. The house tour is wonderful, informative and worth your time. But visitors are not allowed to take pictures. Imagine, however, a lavish Victorian home, with beautiful woodwork and carvings throughout; luscious rugs and ornate furniture.
The estate is operated by a private foundation, in cooperation with the Ohio Historical Society. As such, it is not part of the National Park System, nor the National Presidential Library System.
The Presidential Library was built in 1912 and opened to the public in 1916. The museum contains 12,000 volumes of books and materials from President Hayes’ personal collection. The museum also has a wonderful collection of historical weapons on display.
Interesting facts about President Hayes. His election in 1876 was the most contested Presidential election in American History. At least so far. He was running against Samuel Tilden. Mr. Tilden received 254,235 more popular votes than President Hayes. At the time, 185 Electorial Collage votes were needed to win. Mr. Tilden received 184. Mr. Hayes received 164.
The Republican party determined that there were discrepancies in the vote in Oregon, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. A commission was formed to look into the matter. In the end, the election was decried by the US Senate. This process was not completed until March of 1875.
Hayes was inaugurated. His primary project was the removal of all federal troops from the south, ending the reconstruction after the Civil War.
Hayes’ wife, Lucy, was a member of many temperance organizations. Legend at the time was that she barred all alcohol from being served in the White House. Because of this legend, she became known as “Lemonade Lucy”. The truth was that, during a reception with visiting Russian dignitaries, the alcohol flowed freely and a drunken brawl occurred. From that time on, President Hayes did not allow any alcohol at formal events.
Go on an adventure and discover our history. It is a lot of fun and helps us to understand who we are.
Happy Adventure Hunting!
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