Stacy G. Carkhuff House - Twin Oaks Estate, Akron Ohio

Date added: July 23, 2023 Categories:
Front (east) Elevation, looking SW (1983)

The Carkhuff house holds an important place in the civic, cultural, and social history of Akron during the first half of the 1900s. It was the home of Stacy G. Carkhuff, the highly respected secretary of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company from 1905 to 1943. It is situated in a neighborhood of fine, large residences, a number of which were built for top-ranking officers of the city's three major rubber companies during the early years of their rapid growth. The structure itself, designed in the Georgian Revival style by the prominent New York firm of Trowbridge & Ackerman, is notable for its extraordinary use of brickwork to produce an effect of rich detailing and refined proportion, with almost no special treatment or adornment of the wood trim.

Stacy Carkhuff had become associated with the Firestone Company soon after its organization and played a significant role in the early and continued growth of the firm, working closely with his friend Harvey S. Firestone, Sr. Carkhuff was an industrial executive who controlled and promoted the activities of this leading Akron industry. Coming to Akron in 1901, Carkhuff associated himself with Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, less than one year after its organization, contributing to the company until it had become the largest exclusive tire manufacturing concern in the United States. Mr. and Mrs. Carkhuff held an enviable position in their public life in Akron during the period in which they lived in the house. After Carkhuff's death in 1945, his children donated it to the Firestone Foundation, which used the building until 1982 for its offices and earlier as a depository for its archives.

In its regal setting, the house was one of several showplaces in the immediate area constructed for officials of Akron rubber companies. The work of nationally known architects is represented: Trowbridge & Ackerman of New York, Howard Van Doren Shaw of Chicago, and Charles R. Greco of Boston. Two houses have been torn down and several others placed into adaptive reuse; yet the area still evokes a feeling of its former days, with most of the expansive lawns unspoiled. The Carkhuff house itself is presently used for professional offices, but in effecting this change the owners have made no alterations to the exterior.

From 1906 to 1920 the firm of Trowbridge & Ackerman designed many estate houses in the east, in addition to public buildings such as the Brooklyn Central Y.M.C.A. and Balch Hall at Cornell University. Although the two men had earlier done substantial additions to the Harvey Firestone, Sr. residence, demolished in 1959, the Carkhuff house is their only commission known to exist today in the Akron area.

With that commission, Trowbridge & Ackerman achieved one of their finest works in the Georgian Revival idiom. For purity of line and chaste detailing the house is perhaps unequalled in their catalogue. The brickwork is so masterfully orchestrated as to render a sense of enhanced refinement even with no special effects or elaborate detailing in the wood trim. The sparing use of limestone only in the entry vestibule, the low-set water table, and the exedra indicates further the architects' intent of under-statement.

Building Description

The Stacy G. Carkhuff house is a large two-story seventeen-room structure of irregular plan, designed in an almost severe Georgian Revival style in 1917 by the New York firm of Alexander B. Trowbridge & Frederick L. Ackerman. Set back on a well-landscaped city lot of two acres, it is chaste and restrained in both its exterior and interior detailing, much of which is executed in the Adamesque mode.

The entrance, or east, facade is directed to the side. A driveway passes directly by the glazed, slant-sided entry vestibule, which is supported by two limestone Tuscan columns with corresponding piers and fronts a deeply recessed entry-door alcove. The flat roof deck is surmounted by a wrought-iron railing with center cresting. Wrought-iron grilles are placed over two small windows flanking the vestibule. The overall composition of this elevation is that of a horizontal rectangle with center entrance and symmetrically placed outsize windows on the two stories. The low-pitch ridged hip roof of evenly-laid slate has three segmental-arched dormers, which are repeated on the other elevations. Wall chimneys of bold profile are at each end of the main block.

Set back and extending to the right is a service wing of slightly subordinate height with fenestration of lesser rank. A loggia, indicated by two round arches with lattice-work above a brick wainscot wall, is at the extreme right of the first floor.

The brownish-red tapestry brick of the entire house is laid in mixed garden-wall bond, four courses of running bond set off by a single course of alternating headers and stretchers. Outside corners are treated with simple raised-brick pilasters. A continuous belt course at the second floor is formed by raised vertical stretchers. The multi-paned double-hung windows have surrounds of one row of side-to-side headers bordered by a single raised row of stretchers laid end to end. A label mould of stretchers projects beyond this architrave. A brick wainscot panel is set below the brick lug sill of soldier-course headers.

Except for two sets of three closely spaced windows on the first floor of the entrance facade, which are enframed with a common architrave of brick, hinged louvered shutters are found at all single windows. The exterior trim is painted light ivory with the shutters off-black. The simple hanging gutter and downspouts are almost all original heavy copper left unpainted. Snow guards engirdle the lower roof of the house.

The other elevations are treated in sympathetic consideration of the entrance facade.

The street, or south, front features a wide elliptical five-section bay window lighting the drawing room. A solarium at the far left has French windows set in large glazed Diocletian arches with graceful interior wrought-metal overwork. On the west elevation are seen the prominent slant-sided bay window of the dining room, and the over-scale straight-arched window of the stair landing. Of the four chimneys, the only outside one is that of the drawing room, it is placed in the ell of the north and west elevations, which constitute the garden facade and form a sequestered area focusing on a stone-capped brick exedra.

A four-stall garage of matching brick in a plain, undefined style has garden and work rooms to the right, with living quarters above under a low slate roof. The only ancillary building, it is situated at the lot's back corner and was originally fronted by a circular drive, now expanded for additional parking.

The principal rooms of the Carkhuff house are treated in a restrained, somewhat sparse Adamesque mode in keeping with the exterior design. The public first-floor rooms are of large dimension, with high ceilings and generous window areas: entry vestibule; entrance hall with stairway alcove, dressing room, and ladies' toilet room; drawing room with fireplace; solarium; morning room with fireplace; dining room; and unusually large breakfast room. The service wing's kitchen has been altered to office use.

A pantry and other service rooms are adjacent.

On the second floor are five bedrooms and three baths. The master suite has a sitting room and a large dressing room. There are fireplaces in the master bedroom and one other chamber. Four servant's rooms, a workroom, and a bath are in the service wing. A playroom and several finished storage rooms are in the attic, and a spacious game room with a fireplace is in the basement.

All woodwork, except for the drawing room completely paneled in walnut, was of antique enamel finish. The simply-designed hardware throughout is heavy antique brass. The chandeliers in the major rooms are entirely in keeping with their individual settings; those in the entrance hall, drawing room, and dining room are crystal. Typical Adam-style plasterwork sets off the fixtures in the drawing room, morning room, and dining room.

Most of the floors are of varnished oak. The solarium and game room have large square tiles in varying beige colorings, while the vestibule has small green Spanish tiles, An extraordinary marble floor is used in the breakfast room. Radiators are concealed behind simple metal grilles, some with marble-slab tops, except for the decorative wrought metal work in the vestibule.

The walls of the entrance hall are sectioned by fluted Tuscan pilasters, with the ceiling divided into three sections by faced beams aligned with pilasters. A strong architectural treatment is also given to the paneling of the drawing room, but it is tempered by one wall of glass-doored bookcases, the dramatic elliptical sweep of the large bay window, and a pair of six-light chandeliers with Tiffany glass shades.

The delicately proportioned mantel of the morning room has a panel of green jasperware placed in the frieze under its shelf, and there are flanking windows of very deep reveal, with seats under. This room's cornice has on the ceiling a wide band of moulded plaster in a rinceau design. The solarium has four outsize glazed Diocletian arches enframing large-paned doors. The sidelights and the semi-circle of the arch are overlaid with graceful wrought metal work in a vertical corolitic pattern.

In the breakfast room, a black marble baseboard skirts the beige marble floor, with its border of widely-spaced mosaic squares in black, beiges, and golds set off from the body of the floor by a linear chevron design. Continuing in this Pompeian style of the Adam brothers, the ceiling mould and frieze are painted with motifs of birds, flowers, fruits, andurns in muted oranges, green, turquoise, gold, and beige.

The original landscape architect for the Carkhuff property was nationally known Alling S. DeForrest of Rochester, New York, who laid out Akron's Firestone Park, a prototype company housing development.

Stacy G. Carkhuff House - Twin Oaks Estate, Akron Ohio Front (east) Elevation, looking SW (1983)
Front (east) Elevation, looking SW (1983)

Stacy G. Carkhuff House - Twin Oaks Estate, Akron Ohio Front (east) & Street (south) Elevations, looking NW (1983)
Front (east) & Street (south) Elevations, looking NW (1983)

Stacy G. Carkhuff House - Twin Oaks Estate, Akron Ohio Street (south) Elevation, looking NE (1983)
Street (south) Elevation, looking NE (1983)

Stacy G. Carkhuff House - Twin Oaks Estate, Akron Ohio Stairway, off Entrance Hall (1984)
Stairway, off Entrance Hall (1984)

Stacy G. Carkhuff House - Twin Oaks Estate, Akron Ohio Mantel, Drawing Room (1984)
Mantel, Drawing Room (1984)

Stacy G. Carkhuff House - Twin Oaks Estate, Akron Ohio Chandelier, Drawing Room (1984)
Chandelier, Drawing Room (1984)

Stacy G. Carkhuff House - Twin Oaks Estate, Akron Ohio Glazed Arch, Solarium (1984)
Glazed Arch, Solarium (1984)

Stacy G. Carkhuff House - Twin Oaks Estate, Akron Ohio Mantel, Morning Room (1984)
Mantel, Morning Room (1984)

Stacy G. Carkhuff House - Twin Oaks Estate, Akron Ohio Cornice Detail, Breakfast Room (1984)
Cornice Detail, Breakfast Room (1984)

Stacy G. Carkhuff House - Twin Oaks Estate, Akron Ohio Floor & Radiator Cover Detail, Breakfast Room (1984)
Floor & Radiator Cover Detail, Breakfast Room (1984)