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What the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ visit was like for Stan Hywet in Akron

Appraisers at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron
Jean-Marie Papoi
Ideastream Public Media
About 65 appraisers were set up at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens' 70 acres last year for the "Antiques Roadshow" taping.

Letters from Mr. Rogers, a pristine vintage guitar and a Navajo rug. It’s not the world’s weirdest game of Clue but a list of relics featured in the Monday night episode of “Antiques Roadshow,” spotlighting Northeast Ohio. Gear up for the show at 7:30 p.m. on WVIZ with a special edition of Ideastream’s arts and culture show, "Applause," featuring behind-the-scenes video from the “Roadshow” visit to Akron.

Recorded last year at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, three episodes show off the historic home of Goodyear Co-Founder F.A. Seiberling. The other two episodes air on WVIZ May 6 and 13.

"They paid attention to rooms where you may not be actually allowed to walk into those spaces,” said Stan Hywet Executive Director Jennifer Highfield. “They would take footage from the other side of those spaces. So, for instance, if you're not standing in the library, what you don't see is this amazing wood carving that's on the other side of that door."

Highfield came aboard just as discussions began about bringing the popular PBS show produced by WGBH to Akron. She said there’s several reasons the 70-acre landmark was chosen.

"I would like to be biased and say it's because we're the best or we're the most beautiful," she said. "They need a lot of space... that can be nimble and flexible."

Stan Hywet, which is Old English for “stone quarry,” was built in the early 20th century. After Seiberling’s death in 1955, the grounds became a nonprofit museum. The site near Highland Square hosts numerous large events every year: A Father's Day car show, a holiday extravaganza and even a commemoration of Alcoholic's Anonymous, founded in the Gate House on the property. "Antiques Roadshow" brought two new elements: video cameras and appraisers.

'Antiques Roadshow' brings thousands to Akron' Stan Hywet Hall

“One of the rules is they don't appraise any items at the space,” she said. “They had to remind their appraisers of that multiple times. We warned WGBH... 'When appraisers come to the property, they start to see these things. They get very excited.' Sure enough, that's what happened."

Highfield said she won't share what the items were, as many of them are both high value and small enough to be "touched and taken."

"We tend to not draw attention or focus to those items," she said. “If you weren't an appraiser or somebody who was a fine collector, you would not know that those items were worth the value.”

Cincinnati-based appraiser Wes Cowan has been with "Antiques Roadshow" since season 2. He says over the past 20 years, Ohio-made stoneware has rapidly increased in value.
Kabir Bhatia
Ideastream Public Media
Cincinnati-based appraiser Wes Cowan has been with "Antiques Roadshow" since season 2. He says over the past 20 years, Ohio-made stoneware has rapidly increased in value.

Highfield called the experience “a little scary” at first, but she found the WGBH production team to be “gracious, kind and respectful.”

“We absolutely enjoyed our time with them,” she said. “There was a gentleman who was one of the tech crew. His eye caught our Aeolian organ, and he said, ‘Would you ever let me play that? I'm an organist, and it's one of the finest machines I've seen in a very long time.’ So, when we were all done filming, trying to take all the equipment back out, we let him sit to play the Aeolian organ.”

The organ dates to 1915 and was made by the Aeolian Company of New York. Its three keyboards and thousands of pipes are neatly hidden inside the mansion’s music room. The organ was restored in 2009.

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