Saturday, December 2, 2017

Remembering a Rubber Baron: The O'Neil House

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to visit the O’Neil House, a landmark Akron estate that had been converted in to a very fine Bed & Breakfast some years ago. This magnificent Tudor-revival home, which is located on the city’s west side, was originally built as the home for the family of William O'Neil, founder of The General Tire Company and the son of Michael O’Neil, founder of Akron’s leading department store. The 19-room mansion sits proudly at the corner of West Exchange Street and Mull Avenue, on a well-manicured, park-like spot.
A wide, curved driveway sweeps across the front of the house.

While there is plenty of craftsmanship and solid design evident in the home, there is no pretentiousness about the house, which is spacious, warm and welcoming. The foyer features a beautiful staircase and walls covered in linenfold paneling.

The home's foyer features walls covered in warm linenfold paneling.
Just off the foyer is a wood-paneled library, filled with books, comfortable furniture and a large fireplace. It’s easy to imagine spending the better part of a day here reading and relaxing.

The large living room is a great place to entertain—wood-paneled like the other rooms and large enough to accommodate a grand piano in one corner. A large Tudor-arched fireplace is slightly recessed into one wall, balance by a big bay window across the room.

The library boasts walls of books, fine woodwork and a fireplace.
The home’s dining room is a vivid blue, and incorporates a more formal, classically-styled design—providing a clearly different feel from the other ground floor rooms. This was not an uncommon approach in early 20th Century homes, where owners and architects often felt free to utilize alternative styles (French, Georgian, Colonial) within an otherwise Tudor-revival house. A similar example of this approach can be found in some of the upstairs bedrooms at Stan Hywet.

I loved how this fireplace in the living room was nestled into a slight recess
Located at the end of the living room, the home’s garden room is another fascinating, Tudor-inspired space, with high, beamed ceilings, large decorative leaded windows and another welcoming fireplace. It’s a great place for meetings and gatherings.

The vivid blue walls and the style of this dining room clearly set it apart.
Gayle Johnson, the Owner and Innkeeper, was gracious enough to give me a quick look around a few of the upstairs bedrooms. Since the house is very large, I was slightly surprised when she noted there were just four guest accommodations—but three of these are suites, which include an additional sitting room almost as large as the bed chambers and separate full bathrooms. The largest suite, for families, includes three separate bedrooms and an extra half-bath for good measure, while the large single bedroom available has its own separate bath as well. The master suite bathroom, with its original fixtures and gleaming Vitrolite glass tilework, is an Art Deco treat.

This beer-stein carrying elf graced the windows of the garden room.
Open year-round, The O’Neil House is truly one of Akron’s treasures and a historic reminder of an era when the Rubber Barons ruled. Room prices range from $75-$200 and a gourmet breakfast is included for guests. More information can be found HERE.

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