A short trip to Fremont’s Rutherford B. Hayes’ Presidential Library and Museum provides a glimpse into the intricate social and political issues which confronted the 19th President.
Hayes’ estate’s open iron gates beckon visitors to travel the curved pathway to the President’s home, library and museum. A 25-acre estate, Spiegel Grove is alive with oaks, maples, dogwoods and pine trees casting pools of dappled sun light across the stately stone and brick buildings, which were updated in 2016, in celebration of the presidential library’s 100th anniversary.
The airy and bright museum expertly highlights the Ohio-born-and-bred Hayes throughout his life— from his youth, to his law practice days, his status as a four-time wounded Civil War hero, a Republican congressman, governor of Ohio, his presidency from 1877-1881, his active retirement, travels and death.
Signs of the times
The Museum follows the path of Hayes’s fascinating and productive four-year presidency, guided by his motto: “He serves his party best who serves his country best.”
Engaging and informative displays delve into his contentious election (voter fraud, not winning the popular vote and 20 disputed Electoral College votes), to issues we still struggle with today, such as jobs, immigration, foreign wars, civil unrest, racial tensions, terrorism and citizens’ rights.
On the Museum’s main level, don’t miss the written and audio displays of Hayes’ congressional speeches, as well as his personal discourse with friends, including Frederick Douglass. On the lower level, check out the circular armory room’s collection of guns, bayonets, uniforms, a Chinese cannon and an explanation of the political and social issues leading up to the Civil War, the Chinese Boxer Rebellion and conflicts in the Philippines.
Library and Home:
When it opened in 1916, the Hayes Presidential Library was the first presidential library established. Home to over 90,000 books, the collection pays homage to the late 1900s and Hayes’ love of the written word. Volumes contain the former president’s personal collection and his interests. Some of these can be viewed online at rbhayes.org
The Hayes home is a beautiful 31-room brick house reflecting the décor and furnishings of the era, including the showstopper: a hand-carved walnut and butternut staircase.
Best Pit Stop:
On the main route to the Hayes Estate, be sure to stop into the super cool Speed Trap Diner (310 Main St. Woodville). Sit down and relax in this nostalgic café, which will delight your eyes with road trip-themed memorabilia, while plying you with traditional diner food, ice cream and homemade pies. Mon-Sat 7am-8pm, Sunday 8am -2pm speedtrapdiner.com.
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum at Spiegel Grove (entrance at the corner of Hayes and Buckland Ave), Fremont. 800-998-7737 is open Monday –Saturday 9am -5pm and Sunday Noon-5pm. Closed Mondays January – March (except Presidents’ Day). Walking trail and grounds are open daily, dawn-dusk. $13/adults, $12/seniors and $5/children 6-12yrs. Visit rbhayes.org for more info.