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Akron's Stan Hywet prepares for 'Antiques Roadshow'

Akron's Stan Hywet was built in 1912-15, in what was then Portage Township. Thousands of people will visit on Tuesday for a taping of PBS' "Antiques Roadshow."
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
Akron's Stan Hywet was built in 1912-15 in what was then Portage Township. Thousands of people will visit on Tuesday for a taping of PBS' "Antiques Roadshow."

One of Akron’s most prominent “antiques” will be the backdrop for “Antiques Roadshow” Tuesday during an all-day appraisal event at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens. Executive Director Jennie Highfield says the historic venue will “look sharp” when the cameras roll for the popular PBS show.

"Getting the gardens prepared, we had to do a little bit of work ahead of time," she said. "The planting schedule has been moved up to accommodate so that everything is blooming and looking very colorful and lively.”

She said the one-day event will be about the size and scope of Stan Hywet’s annual Father’s Day car show, but with visitors inside the house instead of on the Great Meadow.

"Guests will truly have a very robust, full experience on the estate," she said. "They will enter through the carriage house, move through to the front of the main house, around the back of the Manor house. Depending on your item, you may go inside the house and then... through the Great Garden."

The grounds are open to only those with tickets, which were already distributed. “Antiques Roadshow” will air three episodes from the Akron visit next year on PBS, during season 28.

“We know that it will reach audiences around the world,” Highfield said. “I don't think that we've ever had a project that is as significant as this.”

Stan Hywet: The legend, the myth, the man?

First-time visitors to the property often ask: Who was Stan Hywet?

"It's something that we've just become accustomed to explaining," she said. "People always assume that our first thing is to interpret the people who lived here, so Stan Hywet must be the person who lived here."

One of the estate’s most notable features is its stone wall, which is where the name Stan Hywet comes from. It’s Old English for “stone quarry.”

The home was built in 1912-15 by the co-founder of Goodyear, F.A. Seiberling. After his death in 1955, the 70-acre site – with its historic gardens and original furnishings – became a nonprofit museum. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and to the National Historic Landmarks list in 1981.

On the road with ‘Roadshow’

Debuting in 1997, “Antiques Roadshow” is based on the BBC series of the same name. Each season’s episodes are recorded a year in advance. The show has previously taped in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. Near the end of season 22, in 2018, “Antiques Roadshow” switched from large venues to recording at historic sites. For the forthcoming season 28, historic venues include the LSU Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. On June 13, they'll be at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, followed by the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage on July 11.

What it's worth

About 65 appraisers are examining participant’s old treasures at Stan Hywet, and "Antiques Roadshow" producers created a list of what they see most frequently during their tapings.

Some are fairly common, some too modern and others might have a value below $500. Some types of items are simply not a good fit, logistically, due to their size or quantity.

The full list includes everything from Japanese dragon-decorated porcelain to family bibles to some categories of sports cards and vinyl records.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.