Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Continuing down the road on our left you will see the aptly named Portage Country Club. According to the history page of its web site it reports in part, "Portage Country Club is one of a handful of clubs that is a hundred or more years old.

"The growth of the Club paralleled the rise of the rubber industry in Akron, and it became the place for the athletic and social activities of the city’s most prominent families. Today, Portage Country Club is recognized as one of the country’s elite private clubs, a tribute to the success and prosperity of the City of Akron and a memorial to those who contributed to its evolution.

"There were few golf courses in the world when golf was introduced to Akron in 1894 at the original site of the Portage Golf Club, a rural area then known as the “West Hill Residential District.” Charles C. Goodrich, son of company founder Dr. Benjamin F. Goodrich, and Charles G. Raymond, a young executive at BF Goodrich, persuaded Raymond's father-in-law, Colonel George T. Perkins, to allow them to lay out the golf course on their farm. C.C. Goodrich, C.G. Raymond and Bertram G. Work, friend and co-worker at Goodrich, were the founding members. They rented a structure known as the "Old John Brown House," once the home of the Harper's Ferry Abolitionist, and constructed a crude nine-hole golf course around it. The balls were handmade and the clubs, if not exactly primitive, were little more than tree limbs by today’s standards.

"Equally primitive were the locker room facilities, located on the second story of a nearby stable. Despite such handicaps, interest and membership in the Club grew until, on January 5, 1905, it incorporated under the name, “The Portage Country Club Company.” According to The Official Golf Guide For 1900 by Joseph Newman the nine-hole course was "fairly good though somewhat short." The Club became affiliated with the United States Golf Association in 1904.

"In 1905, with membership growing, the Club moved to its present location at the corner of Twin Oaks and Portage Path. Chicago architect Howard Shaw designed the clubhouse, and the formal opening was May 19, 1906. By 1917 sufficient acreage had been acquired to expand the course to 18 holes. William B. Langford, noted golf course architect was hired in 1918 and designed a new 18-hole golf course which made Portage Country Club one of the best and most complete clubs in the United States."

Next stop down the road is the gate house for Stan Hywet Hall (which we will report on when next we pick up this series.) According to Stan Hywet's Web site, "The two-story Tudor Revival Gate Lodge was designed by Stan Hywet's architect, Charles S. Schneider. Supporting the "lodge" intent of design, the roof is uniquely different from the rest of the buildings on the Estate. With rounding contours and flowing horizontal rifts, the American thatch wood shingle roof was intended to resemble the reed thatch roofs of 16th and 17th century rural England.By 1923, this small, three-bedroom house would become the home of their eldest son, Fred, his wife Henrietta, and their three children. It would eventually become the setting for a world-changing conversation."

"Henrietta Seiberling's involvement with the Oxford Group, a religious fellowship movement, confirmed her belief that ordinary people had the power to change their lives. On Mother's Day, 1935, through mutual friendships, she brought together Mr. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, both admitted alcoholics. Their discussion, in the Gate Lodge at Stan Hywet, resulted in identifying the principles that were to become the cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous."

The home of Dr. Smith is a bit within the boarders of the parish and as such should not be shown in this series but I thought it so cool it is included anyway. The stone in front of the house reads, "The home of Dr. Bob and Anne Smith from 1915 to 1958. Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous." I am told that at the annual convention every year of AA this house in this quiet part of Akron becomes quiet the tourist spot.


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