A Gluttonous Affair

Jan 14, 2020

Summit County Historical Society plans “gluttonous affair” Jan. 16, 2020

The Summit County Historical Society commemorates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) and the passage of the Volstead Act with a “gluttonous affair” of food, drink and a tour of historic homes in Fairlawn Heights, Thursday, Jan. 16.

A century ago, at the start of the first “Roaring 20s,” Akron, Summit County, Ohio and every state in the union braced for a long “dry” spell as the 18th Amendment, which outlawed the sale, manufacture and distribution of alcohol, went into effect. On Jan. 16, 1920, the night before the Volstead Act, which enforced Prohibition, many Summit County residents celebrated as never before.

In that spirit, the Society offers a tour of three historic homes along Hampshire Road, in Fairlawn Heights. Ticket holders will get a peek inside an honest-to-goodness “hidden” alcohol cabinet installed to conceal forbidden “hooch” during the Prohibition period.

For $50 per person, ticket holders will visit three homes and enjoy some good “cheer” and tasty food along the way. Ticket numbers are limited and going fast!

Tickets are available at eventbrite.com or by calling Society offices at 330-535-1120. Details for the pick-up and drop off will be provided with the purchase of tickets. Because January weather in Ohio can be harsh and there are no sidewalks on Hampshire Road, the Society will provide transportation to – and between – the houses.

The tour marks the kick off of the Society’s 16th annual Rubber City Road Rally set for September 12th. Elizabeth Campbell and Johnna Economou are the co-chairs for the rally, the Society’s signature fundraising event. Proceeds from this “Prohibition tour” will help underwrite the Society’s educational programs.

The Prohibition tour begins at 229 Hampshire Road. Probably built by Goodyear executive Milton W. Henry and his wife Marion, the home was subsequently purchased by Palmer Match Co. owner Thomas A. Palmer and his wife Ella. The two dubbed the house “Stonehaven.” Former Congressman Francis Seiberling and his wife Josephine lived there in the 1940s. Current owners Kate Raymond and Michelle Crocker look forward to showing off their “Prohibition closet” to start the party. (Thank you to Harriet Chapman for sharing her research on this home.)

Home two on this Prohibition caravan is located at 281 Hampshire Road. Built in 1924-1925 for the daughter of Congressman and Spanish-American War veteran Charles Dick, it was one of the first homes built in Fairlawn Heights. Dorothy Dick married William “Bill” Robinson in 1921. The great grandson of the founders of Robinson Clay Products Co. in Akron, “Bill” served in the Naval Aviation Corps during World War I. When he came home, he worked for Firestone Tire & Rubber before going into the family business.  When brother Russell did not want to run the company after his father’s death, the presidency was transferred into the Robinson-Manton line. Bill eventually became an insurance agent for T.J. Seibert. The home is currently owned by Pat Weschler. (Thank you to William “Bill” Waldman for sharing his family research on this home.) 

Finally, Society CEO and President Leianne Neff Heppner and her partner Don Miller will open their home at 336 Hampshire Road. Built in 1929 at the “height of Prohibition,” the home has been the residence of at least two rubber company executives and a head of Akron General Hospital (Dr. Lichty who rode his bicycle to work as featured in a Mark Price ABJ article). The house was vacant for almost six years, becoming a HUD foreclosure.  When Leianne and Don purchased the property in May 2017, there was no running water or heat and only spotty electricity. But the two emphasize the heat is working just fine, although the restoration is still a work in progress as they labor to bring it back to its former glory.