Rutherford B. Hays Presidential Library & Museum

This is the official Presidential Library and Museum of President Rutherford B. Hays who was the 19th President of the United States of America from 1877 to 1881. President Hays was born in Delaware, OH about 31 miles north of Columbus, the capitol of Ohio. He was born on October 4, 1822, went to Harvard and then Kenyon College and became a Lawyer and married Lucy Ware Webb in 1852. President Hays was a staunch abolitionist who defended refugee slaves in court. He was a member of the Whig party until 1854 when he became a member of the Republican Party until he passed on January 17, 1893 at the age of 70. He served in the Union Army during the US Civil War from 1861 to 1865 where he made it up to Brevet Major General in the Army of the Shenandoah. After the war, he ran for and won a seat in the US House of Representatives where he served only one two year term from 1865 to 1867. He then ran and won two terms as Governor of Ohio from 1868-1872, and then 1876-1877. He then ran and won the Presidency from March 4, 1877 to March 4, 1881.

First off, we will visit the Presidential Library and Museum which is pretty impressive. The photo above is of the library and museum through the gates which used to be at the White House. Those gates were given to the Presidential Library and Museum by congress when they were removed so they could install wider gates so the firetrucks could fit through them. There are four such gates on property and all of them are being used as actual gates. In the original entrance, you will see a bust of President Hayes and one of his many quotes, “He serves his party best who serves his country best.”

There are several rooms and floors to this museum and I did not photograph everything but I will show you photos of things I liked and thought were interesting. The first room we will visit is off to the right and I immediately recognized the first thing I saw and I literally had to pick my jaw up off the floor.

This is an exact copy of the famous Resolute Desk that now sits in the Oval Office in the White House. This was a gift from Queen Victoria of England and was received at the White House on November 23, 1880 where President Hayes put it in the Green Room for visitors to see before it was moved to his private office and study on the second floor. From there, it was moved to different places in the White House before it was put on display in the Smithsonian and even going on tour after President John F Kennedy was assassinated. The Resolute Desk was made from timbers of the H.M.S. Resolute which was a failed expedition that was sent in search of Sir John Franklin in 1852. The ship was found abandoned on May 15, 1854 by Capt. Buddington of the US Whaler ship, the “George Henry”. The ship was then bought, extricated, fitted, and sent to England as a gift to Her Majesty Queen Victoria by the President and people of the United States. The Queen then broke apart the ship as is customary for any ship coming back where the crew had not survived, and had the desk made from her timbers. Behind the desk are writing samples from every President the US has ever had. I found that most of them were well written except for one which was President John Quincy Adams. His writing was absolutely horrific to the point where he must have had arthritis as it was legible, but not very fluid at all. In that same room were President Grant’s desk and several items that belonged to President Abraham Lincoln including a few that were on his person the night he was assassinated in Ford’s Theater.

In another room, there are family dresses and kids costumes. The popular kids costumes of the time were a Union uniform for the boys and dresses for the girls.

Here is President Hayes’s personal carriage that he used while in the White House.

Here are several photos of his vast collection of weapons he collected during is service in the Union Army.

Just look at that bear trap. I took one look at that and thanked god I didn’t have to worry about stepping into one of those traps.

I personally thought it was interesting that he was able to save the exact spot on the deck where he took the oath of office when he was sworn in as President.

There are many other displays in the museum to which I could’ve spent all day reading and looking at them instead of glancing at them. I suggest you try and visit the museum but come early and expect to spend some time here. Now, on to the house.

Spiegel Grove

The house you currently see in this photo is a result of the two additions and the name Spiegel is German for mirrors. It was given that name after they noticed the puddles looked like mirrors after a rain storm. The original was about a third the size you currently see. The original part is the left half of the house that was originally built by Rutherford’s uncle, Sardis Birchard, in the early 1850’s. It was to be Rutherford’s summer home. Rutherford and his wife, Lucy Web Hayes were residing in Cincinnati when he was a attorney. The house itself took four years to build from 1859-1863 and included four rooms on the first floor and the same number on the second with a nice wide veranda on three sides of the house. The Hayes family then added the northern wing which included the library and large parlor after they returned from the White House in 1880-81.

The third addition is what you see in the photos above which are behind the original and north wing, was added in 1889 and included an enlarged kitchen, dinning room, and more bedrooms on the second floor. Included in all those additions were an attic which contained a large water tank and a basement which contained a larger cistern. The original house was 4,000 square feet and was expanded to 21,000 square feet.

The first room you come to is called “The Entrance” which was built wide enough to not be useless for walking or sitting. This was specifically requested by Rutherford. The room immediately on the left is called the “Red Room.” one of the things the Rutherford’s did was have each room meticulously photographed which was extremely helpful when it came to restoration. Also 97% of the furnishings and utensils in this house belonged to the Hayes family. The Red Room was based on the Red Room in the White House where President Hayes was sworn into office on March 3, 1877. The Hayes family had eight children, seven of them were boys with only one girl, Fanny, who is the subject of a portrait that is hanging over the mantle in the Red Room, out lived her immediate family members and died at the age of 82 in 1950. She and four boys were the only children to make it to adulthood.

This is the Master Bedroom. The mahogany bed was a wedding gift from Lucy’s mother when they were married on December 30, 1852 in Cincinnati. They both passed away in this bed with Lucy passing due to the effects of a stroke on June 25, 1889 at the age of 57. Rutherford passed on January 17, 1893 at the age of 70 from Heart Disease. On the right side of the bed, you’ll see a portrait of Rutherford in his Civil War uniform. Below that are photos of Lucy and a beardless Abraham Lincoln when he was 47 years old before he was President.

The sewing machine was from the Wheeler-Wilson sewing company and was used by Lucy to mend uniforms when she visited Rutherford in camp during the Civil War. Earlier I mentioned that 97% of the objects in the house were theirs. Well, the field docent pointed out that Lucy used the hand mirror and Rutherford used the clippers to trim his beard. Both of those things are on the dresser.

This is the room they call their, “Inner Sanctum”. This originally was a small washroom when the house was originally built but was expanded to its present size in 1883. The house also had indoor bathrooms when it originally was built. Rutherford had a small desk just to the left of the black and white photo on a stand with a door to the outside. Rutherford had this room expanded to its present size for Lucy who possibly had a series of gallbladder attacks and who also suffered from arthritis. He even included a modesty board in the bathtub.

Next is the hallway which contains a beautiful Elk Antler chair and a beautiful hand carved butternut staircase that has 177 hand turned black walnut spindles. The hallway was originally Sardis’s sitting room. The lighting wasn’t that great so the phot of the cupola at the top of the stairwell is the only one I have.

Next up is the large parlor room. You’ll note that the windows are very wide and low. This is common for this era as these are called casket windows. They were built like this because you had viewings at home and it was considered bad luck to bring in a casket through a door.

The Parlor room is the room they used for large gatherings, Fanny’s wedding, and even funerals. Rutherford had the ceiling raised from 12ft to 13ft to accommodate the life size portrait he had of himself while he was at the White House. President Hayes was 5’ 8 & 1/2” and weighed 171 lbs at the start of his Presidency. The Gilded frame cost him $900. The wallpaper on the ceiling is also the only original wallpaper in the house. There is a portrait of Lucy wearing a dress that she wore for their 25th wedding anniversary. That dress is now in the Smithsonian. They renewed their vows on that date using the same minister that originally married them.

This is the Library which held all 12,000 books Rutherford owned as he loved to read. This was a favorite place for the family to gather much like the TV room or wherever the television is in the house today. Behind me is a horsehair stuffed chaise lounge that had a shallow hiding place under it and the carpet it is sitting on. Sadly, it was empty when it was discovered. The books in the library now were all donated by the citizens of Freemont as all of his books were all moved to the Presidential Library in the museum. Next up is a small hallway that contains a elevator that is original to the house, and a telephone room that has a card on the small desk on which is a directory that lists #35 belonging to General R. B. Hayes. The telephone was patented in 1876 and installed in Spiegel Grove in 1881. Hayes also had the telephone installed in the White House on May 1, 1879. I do apologize for the blurriness of the telephone room photo.

The next room is the Carriage Entrance which was the formal entrance to the home and sadly I don’t have any photos of it. This is an arched entrance with a door that is surrounded by crackle and bottle glass. Here is a look down the hall towards the dining room. Note the lighting fixture that is original to the house. Also look at the ornate door hinges as well.

The next room is the Dinning Room. This was part of the last expansion in 1889 and really gave them a proper dinning room for all the guests that were visiting Spiegel Grove. The mahogany table is original to the house as is the China with cobalt finger bowls.

The fireplace tiles came from Rockwood Pottery in Cincinnati and are original to the room. On the mantle are originals and period replacements of the China they had in the White House. The White House China was a bit interesting as it had animals on it so you either liked it, or hated it. One dignitary was heard saying he was surprised to see a fox looking back at him from the China bowl when he finished his soup.

Below is a copy of a letter Lucy had written her son about a Thanksgiving feast they had at Spiegel Grove in 1875. Winnie was their Chef at the time.

Now we head up to the second floor and on the landing is a beautifully carved love seat.

Also on the landing is the Smithsonian Room. This area was originally Sardis’s smoking room which Rutherford converted to an area where he could display his gifts and collections. At one point in time it was also used as a linen closet and bathroom.

Next are all the rooms which were absolutely beautiful and I didn’t get any photos of them as my battery was almost dead. But I will describe them as much as I can. What is unusual is that each room had its own door knocker.

The first room is the Sardis Room which belonged to Sardis Birchard until his death in 1874. It is a white room with a dark four posted bed and dresser with mirror. Sardis is the one who built the house and oversaw Rutherford’s education all the way up through Harvard Law and Kenyon College.

Next up is Fanny’s bedroom which had yellow wallpaper, light blue curtains, and White House bedroom suite that Rutherford bought. 1878 was carved at the top of one of the pieces. She was given a blank check when she turned 22 so she bought a desk with it. There also is a gold plated chocolate pot which was a wedding gift to her from her father. It was gilded at the 1893 Colombian World Exposition in Chicago. There is a painting of her with her father above the mantle when she was just three and he was the Governor of Ohio.

The Wright Room was part of the master suite for Web Cook Hayes 1 who was Rutherford’s second son. The wallpaper is a white and light green design with light blue carpet. A portrait of Web hangs over the mantle in front of a dark four posted bed. There is a painting of Mt Hood on the wall as well as the usual bedroom furniture. They also have a heavy soapstone bed warmer and foot warmer. Web served in the Army on the Mexican border during the Spanish American War, the Philippine Insurrection where he was awarded the Medal of Honor for service there. He also served in the Boxer Rebellion and as a government emissary during World War One.

Next up is the Otis Sitting room that had a light blue-green painted walls with white carpet and floral curtains. There is a chaise lounge and two chairs that all have floral coverings. There are also several smaller chairs, tables, and a desk. A needlework pillow made by Chloe Smith Hayes, Rutherford’s paternal grandmother, sits on one of the chairs.

Then there is the Cook Room which has off white walls, ceiling, and carpet. The furniture almost looks like it is from Cherry wood. The cradle in the room belonged to the family of Mary Sherman Hayes,Rutherford’s daughter-in-law. The two beds were bought by Web C. Hayes in Cuba in 1913.

Then there is the Santiago De Cuba Bedroom which has white carpeting and ceiling with blue colored floral wallpaper and blue and red colored floral curtains. The bed is a four posted canopy bed with a quilt that features the “Ohio Star” pattern. There is a photo goof the White House hanging on the wall that was taken in 1881 when the Hayes family resided there.

Next is the Porto Rican Room, yes, that is the way it is spelled. It has white ceiling, red carpet, and white wallpaper with vertical vines of flowers. There are two four posted beds with a night stand and a rocking chair and a regular chair. A portrait of Martha Baker Hayes hangs on the wall. This is where she and her husband Admiral Webb Hays (Rutherford’s grandson) stayed.

Admiral Web employed a butler and a cook who were married to each other and stated in the servants room. It has a white and light blue stencil wallpaper design with blue carpet. There is a pretty small (for two people) four posted bed with canopy, the usual bedroom furniture, and a crib.

Second to last was the Oriental Room which has a brown carpet, green and white Chinese wallpaper, and two four posted beds with canopies. The beds were purchased by Web C Hayes I and Mary Miller Hayes in 19-4 during their Asian trip. The beds were made in a Philippine prison.

The last room is the Turret Room which is the western area of the Oriental Room. It was designed so that Lucy could read or sew while overlooking her flower gardens. Sadly, she passed before it was finished.

Rutherford B. Hayes and Lucy Webb Hayes are both buried on property as are Webb Cook and Mary Miller Hayes.

I really enjoyed touring this museum and Spiegel Grove and it really was the surprise of my trip and I hope you enjoyed it as well.