The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

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OUR HISTORY

The Hayes Presidential Center, Inc. operates and manages the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. A non-profit entity, it receives the majority of its funding through the Rutherford B. Hayes–Lucy Webb Hayes Foundation. The State of Ohio also provides an annual appropriation administered through the Ohio Historical Society.

Webb C. Hayes, the second son of Rutherford and Lucy Hayes, endowed the Foundation in 1922. It was Webb who, shortly after the 1893 death of his famous father, started an effort to build a lasting memorial to the 19th President. He deeded the President’s estate (Spiegel Grove) to the State of Ohio and the President’s personal papers and possessions to the Ohio Historical Society contingent on the construction of a “fireproof building” on the grounds of the estate. Webb’s dream came to fruition in 1916 with the opening of what was then called the Hayes Memorial.

However, Webb considered the two-story Ohio sandstone structure of inadequate size to house his father’s collections. He personally funded an addition to structure in 1922, doubling its size. It was at this time that Webb endowed the foundation to fund operation of the facility.

The Hayes Museum/Library underwent a second expansion in 1968. Two wings, built onto the east and west ends of the structure, added 35,874 square feet of space. The project supported expansion of the facility’s educational outreach through increased exhibit and library space, and construction of an auditorium.

In 1981, the facility's name was changed to the Hayes Presidential Center to more accurately represent its mission and programming. The Hayes Presidential Center includes the home, library, museum, tomb, and 25-acre park-like estate (called Spiegel Grove) of 19th U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes. Entrance to the property is through the original gates from the White House.

The Rutherford B. Hayes Home is a 31-room mansion and centerpiece of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio. Rutherford B. Hayes' uncle and guardian, Sardis Birchard, constructed the original portion of the home between 1859 and 1863 as a summer home he could share with his nephew and young family. Construction took five years because materials and labor were difficult to obtain during the American Civil War. The two-story brick home had eight bedrooms and a wrap-around verandah. Rutherford B. Hayes particularly loved the verandah. In 1873 he wrote in his diary, "The best part of the present house is the veranda. But I would enlarge it. I want a veranda with a house attached!" Hayes spent the next 20 years planning additions and improvements to his home and estate, much as Thomas Jefferson had with his beloved Monticello.

About the Museum

 The museum of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center was started by the President's second son, Colonel Webb Cook Hayes and his siblings, shortly after the turn of the 20th century. In several transactions, Colonel Hayes and his siblings deeded over to the state of Ohio, Spiegel Grove, the President's estate and all its holdings. Ground was broken in 1912 for the building, and the first presidential library/museum in the U.S. opened in 1916 funded by the State of Ohio and Webb C. Hayes.

On a regular basis, the museum staff creates temporary exhibits on the Hayes family, the Hayes Administration, Ohio history, the Gilded Age, the Civil War, and personalities of the 19th Century. The Center also rents or borrows temporary exhibits that are appropriate to its mission.

Spiegel Grove in bloom!

Spiegel Grove is the name given to the estate of 19th U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes. It was so named for the large puddles of rainwater that collect beneath the towering trees following a storm. "Spiegel" is the German word for mirror - an accurate description for these nature-made reflecting pools. The Hayes Presidential Center is located within 25-acres of the President's original estate.

President Rutherford B. Hayes inherited the property known as Spiegel Grove from his maternal uncle, Sardis Birchard. Birchard purchased the property on November 5, 1846. He had long admired the large wooded acreage. Its large trees and thick underbrush are said to have reminded him of the German fairy tales of his youth. He kept the property in its natural state until 1859 when he began construction of a house on the property. Birchard never married. His intent was that his nephew and family reside there with him in his retirement.