Akron University and Downtown Driving Tour
This tour includes the historical highlights of Akron, with stops at a variety of monuments, markers, museums, and historical buildings.
Built in 1871 by Akron industrialist John Henry Hower. Architect Jacob Snyder helped design the house in the Second Empire Italianate style. The 28-room house is topped with a mansard roof and tower. The floor plan was based on the “Akron Plan,” which was used in often in church constructions between 1870 and 1917. It now belongs to the University of Akron and is open for public tours.
This statue honors local business leader John Buchtel, the leader of an effort to create a college at this location under the auspices of the Ohio Universalist Convention. The college offered religious training and a liberal arts education for members of the Universalist Church, but also sought to train future leaders of industry. As the institution grew, its emphasis on preparing local students for successful careers led to its gradual transformation. By 1913, Buchtel College had become the University of Akron, a municipally-supported institution that grew from less than 200 students in 1913 to 10,000 students by the late 1960s. In 1967, the university became part of Ohio's state-supported system of colleges and universities. Today, the University of Akron has more than 80 buildings on 218 acres and offers more than 300 undergraduate programs and has more than 23,000 students.
Built in 1929 by Marcus Loew and designed by famed theater architect, John Eberson, the Akron Civic Theatre is one of five remaining atmospheric theatres left in the country where visitors can experience a star-lit sky as well as clouds moving across the horizon while sitting in the auditorium.
In 1936 the Quaker Oats Company built a new storage facility. The company was Akron Based and was founded in 1856 by Ferdinand Schumacher. The storage facility was fairly large with thirty six grain silos each standing 120' tall and 24' in diameter. The storage facility only remained open until 1970 when the company moved to Chicago. Since then the building has gone through many changes and renovations. Once Quaker Oats moved to Chicago, their storage building was purchased by private investors and completely transformed. Throughout the next five years it was transformed into a hotel, restaurant and shopping complex. It fully opened in 1975 and became known as Quaker Square. The thirty six silos were changed into 196 hotel room, 6 suites, and also included meeting spaces and dining areas. There were also two restaurant located within the building as well as Christmas store and a general store. The Quaker Square complex remained open and a popular attraction in Akron for many years until 2007 when it was purchased by the University of Akron which is located within walking distance. Before the university's purchase there was talk of the building being completely shut down but has been saved yet again. Soon the University of Akron's plans to turn the grain silos into a dorm that will house almost 400 students. This will be the second time in the history of the building that it will be completely transformed. The process of remodeling the rooms to become dorms is currently in the works. Quaker Square is still a prominent fixture within the city of Akron. Although the interior is most likely closed to visitors, it is still worth a visit to see the exterior of an old silo used by the Quaker Oats Company. It is located within walking distance of downtown Akron and has been place on the National Register of Historic Places.
The old Akron Post Office and Federal Building is today privately owned and used as medical offices for Summa Health Systems. It was originally purchased in 1913 with federal funds to be a post office. However, it was built and opened until 1929 thanks to delays caused by World War I. It remained a Post Office until 1975. It was also a commercial display studio for several years before being turned into medical offices in the early 2000s.
Established in 1922, Akron Art Museum has become a cultural institution serving the public in furthering the knowledge of fine arts. Despite several challenges, including the lean years of the Great Depression when the organization had to make do without paid staff and a fire that destroyed the museum's first permanent home, the Akron Art Museum has become one of the leading cultural institutions in the region and the museum's collections have expanded far beyond the capacity of the original two-room showcase in the basement of the former public library. Since 1981, the museum has been located in the city's former downtown post office. In 2007, however, the museum opened the Knight Building next to the former post office which was substantially renovated to reflect the Knight Building's modern design.
The Main Branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library opened in 2004. It has more than a million visitors each year. It features subject divisions on Business and Government, Culture and AV, Magazines and Newspapers, Science and Technology, Special Collections which includes local history, Teen and a Children’s Library.
Oak Place Mansion was built in 1870 and was the home of Akron inventor Lewis Miller. Today it is being preserved as an apartment building. This was the site of the wedding of Thomas Edison and Mina Miller, the daughter of Lewis Miller. The brick, gabled building is owned by real estate developer Michael Sapp.
St. Vincent de Paul is Akron’s oldest Catholic Church. The parish began as a mission visited by Father Basil Shorb in 1837. It was first in the Diocese of Cincinnati. It was switched to the Diocese of Cleveland when it began in 1847. The cornerstone was laid for the present building in 1864. The first Mass was celebrated on Oct. 20, 1867. LeBron James graduated from here in 2003. He thrived as a freshman until the end of his senior season. Went through some adversity with accepting money and had to miss games his junior season but over came it. He won two state championships and one national championship during his time at St.Vincent de Paul. He was ranked #1 in the nation and was claimed as ''The King'' or ''Chosen One''.
Glendale Cemetery, originally known as Akron Rural Cemetery, is Akron’s oldest cemetery and dates back to 1839. It was founded by Dr. Jedediah D. Commins. It features 150 acres and is the final resting place of many of Akron’s prominent citizens. It includes many states, chapels and other memorials as well as the “Great Meadow,” which was once home to two small lakes, Willow Lake and Swan Lake. The lakes dried up and it was turned into a meadow. The cemetery itself, and four buildings adjacent to it - the Caretaker's Lodge, the Memorial Chapel, the Bell Tower, and the Cemetery Office - are all on the National Register of Historic Places.
This historic mansion was built for Colonel Simon Perkins, son of Akron founder General Simon Perkins, in 1837. The home offers an outstanding example of Greek Revival architecture combined with elements of the Federal style. The mansion was occupied by the Perkins family until 1945. The home is now owned by the Summit County Historical Society and utilized as a museum that is open to the public. Summit County Historical Society was founded 1924 to preserve and interpret the area's local history.
In 1844, this home on Diagonal Road in Akron became the home of John Brown, an abolitionist who later led attacks on pro-slavery partisans in territorial Kansas and attempted to lead a revolutionary raid against the institution of slavery in Harpers Ferry in what was then Virginia, an event that helped spark the Civil War. Today, the home is owned and operated by The Summit County Historical Society. The home is open for public tours and has been designated by the National Park Service as a Network to Freedom site. Learn more about Brown and the Summit County Historical Society by reading the description and clicking the links below.