Transformed Perkins Stone Mansion Tour Opens April 4
To create unique sensory-filled visits, Akron’s Perkins Stone Mansion reopens April 4 with first-time-ever self-guided tours and new interactive displays.
The Summit County Historical Society, the mansion’s owner, has added explorative boxes, aroma-filled rooms and selfie stations to reinvent its tour and enhance each guest’s experience, according to President and CEO Leianne Neff Heppner.
“Visitors now feel like old friends and invited guests at the home of Akron’s founding family,” said Neff Heppner. “Each determines how long to spend in a room, making the experience casual and unscripted as knowledgeable volunteers stand by to answer questions.”
Non-flash photography is permitted, she added.
Museum Services Coordinator Charlotte Gintert and Education Coordinator Claire Lucas transformed the tour experience, repackaging 19th-century artifacts along with reproduction games, food and documents into room-by-room Discovery Boxes, accompanied by appropriate aromas permeating each room. In addition, and indoor selfie stations has been created. An outdoor station will be available this summer.
“It’s quite a change from the guided tour offered for the last few decades,” said Gintert. “The former hour-long tour focused on a specific audience with an instructional monologue.”
The tour makeover has been constructed to reach and engage new audiences, she said. “The new format enables visitors to soak up every nook and cranny at their own pace, or skip a room, while embracing the mansion’s warm, hospitable setting.”
Each room has hands-on experiences. A piano can be played, books perused, clothes tried on, and games played. Simon Purrkins, a black cat mascot and namesake of the Mansion’s first resident, is found in rooms to help visitors locate items of interest. In addition, a scale-model of a Perkins bed offers the experience of often-needed rope tightening to support its mattress.
“There’s even a tray that visitors can lift that replicates the weight of the Perkins’ famous silver tea service set filled to capacity,” Lucas added.
Lucas said more senses are summoned, including smell, as several rooms incorporate nonallergenic-scented-oil mechanisms for lasting impressions. The kitchen has a baked bread aroma, an upstairs parlor smells of flowers and pipe smoke wafts from the library.
“Smell is one of the strongest memories of the human brain,” said Lucas. “We want guests to remember the tour and possibly recall past experiences.”
Similar experiences are planned for the adjacent John Brown House, currently undergoing major renovations. The annual return of a flock of Dorset sheep from The Spicy Lamb Farm is scheduled for May 12.
Located at the intersection of Copley Road and South Portage Path, the Perkins Stone Mansion is open Wednesday through Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Self-guided tours are $8.00 for adults, $2.00 for students and free to Society members. A traditional tour is available by reservation only at 11:00 am by calling 330.535.1120.
The Mansion grounds, known as Mutton Hill, are always open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.