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the Fremont, Ohio, home of Rutherford B. Hayes
In 1846 Fremont, Ohio, merchant Sardis Birchard bought a tract of land with the intention of building a home for himself and his newphew, Rutherford B. Hayes. Because the reflection of the trees and lush vegetation in pools of water after a rain reminded him of German fairy tales he had heard in his youth, he named the estate Spiegel (German for "mirror") Grove.
In 1849 Hayes moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, to pursue a career in law and politics. As a result, Birchard changed his plans and, between 1859 and 1863, constructed a 2-1/2-story brick residence with veranda on the estate as a summer retreat for his nephew. Hayes and his family moved into the house for good in 1873, between his second and third terms as Governor of Ohio. To better accomodate his family of six children, Hayes had a one-story frame addition built on the west side that extended the veranda and provided an office-library, drawing room, a new kitchen, wood house, and privy. He inherited Spiegel Grove in 1874.
Hayes was in his last year as President when he commissioned the next major renovations to Spiegel Grove, in 1880. Those renovations included a brick addition on the north that more than doubled the home's size and a complete remodeling of the interior. In 1889, the year his wife died, Hayes tore down the 1873 frame addition and replaced it with a 2-1/2-story wing that included the present formal dining room, a kitchen, and several upstairs chambers.
Hayes died in his beloved Spiegel Grove on January 17, 1893. One of his sons, Webb C., lived at the estate for many years, and it was he, as spokesman for the Hayes Family, who presented it to the State of Ohio with the stipulation that it be reserved for family use and that the State build a memorial library-museum on the grounds. The Rutherford B. Hayes Library was built between 1916 and 1922. The house remained in the hands of the Hayes family until 1965, when it was opened to the public as a house/museum. The house was declared a National Historic Landmark on January 29, 1964, and added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. The entire 25-acre estate, which also includes the graves of President and Mrs. Hayes, is now administered by the Rutherford B. Hayes and Lucy Webb Hayes Foundation as the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center.
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This page was last updated on August 30, 2018.