Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spiegel Grove

"A veranda with a house attached," was the fancy of Lucy Hayes, this was her correspondence with the Uncle who built this home. Spiegel Grove offered a home of country fresh air for her children.
 The gardens were well documented by her husband President Rutherford Hayes.

Veranda of Spiegel Grove

Spiegel Grove
President Hayes and his title of presidency lead me to Fremont, Ohio to photograph the grounds and home. Spiegel Grove was the home to Rutherford B Hayes, our 19th president. A home, where his children were raised, with his beloved wife Lucy. What I didn't expect when I arrived was to have Mrs. Hayes become the object of my interest.

I also, didn't expect to witness how the community of Fremont would descend upon this historical spot with such a lack of dignity and respect. Mister and I arrived early enough to view the grounds before the locals arrived. You see,  a custom has developed over the years, in which students from the local high school gather here for prom photos. What a fiasco. People pulled their vehicles right onto the lawn, wet lawn. It was sad to see the grounds rutted out by the cars. Pretentious mothers encouraged their scantly dressed daughters to plop themselves upon the veranda stairs. Well, enough on that subject. I suppose that community feels they are entitled to parade themselves around this Historical area with no regards for manners and etiquette.

During our visit the home was having extensive renovation done inside. We still enjoyed a nice tour of the interior (of course, photos were not allowed inside) Our tour guide was a very interesting man named Ross who took Mister and I through the home and pointed out so many interesting items.

The exterior seems to have suffered some neglect. Before touring the home, and listening to Ross tell us the stories, I took this photo.

It was all I could do to restrain myself from pulling weeds and clearing this bed. The structure looks so ghost like and unloved.

Ross told us of additions to Spiegel Grove being planned, way back during the days of Mrs. Hayes. In the plans was a sunroom especially for Lucy, to sit and read and enjoy the sun.
Just for Lucy

In the late 1800's her home was in the state of remodeling. A new kitchen, a fabulous dining room, and this sitting area. A sitting area overlooking the gardens.
Lucy died at the age of 57 before the completion of her special sitting area and home interior.
This made me view the pitiful unloved garden with even more remorse. The sitting area looks directly over the over grown garden.

I am pleased to know that at some point someone had the foresight to protect some historical things. Like this tree.

A 235 year old tree still stands on the grounds of Spiegel Grove.
Here and there, a few beds were tidy and well done.

Then there were more of the pitiful unloved areas. Despite a carriage house, that is home to a caretaker, there seemed to be such disarray.

The Dogwood trees were in bloom, adding a charm the day we visited.

There were little areas that were well maintained.

The path leading back to the burial area of President Rutherford and Lucy Hayes was paved with what I think are sandstones. I loved the worn cracked placing of the stones. Judging from old photos that I have seen, the walkway seems to be as it was when the memorial area was created.

I left Fremont with a new interest in American first ladies. Lucy Hayes was the first wife of a president to be titled First Lady. She was referred to as Lemonade Lucy. The first lady refused to serve alcohol while hosting parties at the White House. This approach to alcohol earned her the nickname.
This would be a great spot to insert a fabulous Lemonade recipe, I suppose. Maybe, that is for another time.

After having visited, Mount Vernon and Monticello, I think my expectations were to find an immaculate home and amazing groomed gardens at Spiegel Grove. What I found was hopefully, a work in progress. I hope the exterior grounds are respected by someone who is in charge, making Lucy and Rutherford proud of how well their home is being cared for. Perhaps, I will donate some of my time and volunteer. A spare pair of weed pulling hands could be of use.
Lucy Hayes was a thrifty woman who used coupons, loved nature, and animals. A mother, a wife, an educated woman of her time, she surely should have her home cared for with a careful hand as does Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

President Rutherford Hayes kept such detailed records with regards to the trees and the plantings on the estate. The time and commitment it must have taken to keep the records and care for the plants is a testimony to their love for this home.
The veranda of Spiegel Grove offered a wonderful bench for Mister and I to share. We sat there. Together. Just as Rutherford and Lucy once did.