Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tudor House Continues to Serve Portage Lakes as a Community Treasure

When Frank Mason, a senior executive of the B. F. Goodrich, built this grand home on Turkeyfoot Lake and gave it to his grandson and his newlywed wife, Zeletta Robinson, he may not have dreamed that it would one day be a local civic center. Today, the Frank Mason Raymond home—known locally as Tudor House—or the Franklin park Civic Center, continues to charm guests as a serves as a popular wedding, meeting and banquet facility, often available without charge to non-profit organizations.

Located at 655 Latham Lane, in the Portage Lakes area of New Franklin, the beautiful 20-room, 2 ½ story, brick and stucco mansion sits on 5.8 acres, adjacent to Portage Lakes State Park, and has 335 feet of frontage on the west shore of the lake.

Built in 1927 by local builders William F., Samuel G. and G. Edward Schweikert, the home is a distinctive example of the Tudor Revival style of architecture, with its arched doorways, carved wood staircase, prominent Tudor arch fireplace with oak paneling, and exposed beams in the living room. Typical of so many large houses of this type, it displays a rambling, asymmetrical composition—designed to appear as though rooms have been added on over many years. The exterior also reflects Tudor design elements, with its gabled front entry, featuring stone trim, massive stone and brick chimneys, slate roof with prominent cross gables, and copper gutters. The gardens include an embanked grotto, constructed of stone.

After the Raymonds moved to Bath, northwest of Akron, Tudor House was rented by Goodrich VP George Vaught and his family. In 1943, prominent Akron jeweler Henry B. Ball and his wife, Helen, bought the mansion. They lived there for 25 years with their children, Skip and Betty (Mrs. Dick Walter) who was married at the mansion. From 1968 to 1974, Akron contractor Robert Fabbro and his family of six children occupied the home. In 1974, it was sold to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and in July 1977, a 50-year lease was signed with the State for the facilities to be used as a civic center.

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