History of the Museum Volunteers

The history of the Hower House Museum volunteers has a storied past.

In the early 1970s, after Grace Hower Crawford and her brother, John Bruot Hower, donated their family home to The University of Akron.  The stately mansion had been built by their grandparents, John Henry, and Susan Youngker Hower, and had been home to three generations of Howers.

Yet their generous gift met with some public discussion about how best to care for and maintain the property and the best use for the home, collection, and grounds. The terms of their gift were clearly outlined that the home and property were to be used and preserved. But how best to fund this plan?

Why is this home so important?

The Hower House was home to the "Father of Akron industry," John Henry Hower.  Akron's rise in industry began here. Likewise, the structure is significant architecturally, being one of the best surviving examples of the Second Empire Italianate style popular during the Gilded Age in America. Likewise, it houses a unique collection of items collected from around the world.

The Friends of Hower House:

In 1974 the Friends of Hower House volunteer group was formed to save the home from the threat of demolition. This dedicated group rallied community attention, support, and funding to renovate the interiors and restore the home to its former glory.  They met with some obstacles along the way--fundraising, frozen pipes, a fire--but managed to move forward to privately fund the project.

Birth of a museum:

Once completed, the group decided to open the Hower House as a museum.  This was in keeping with the vision of the builder's daughter-in-law, Blanche Bruot Hower, for her "museum" to house her cherished treasures acquired during a lifetime of world travels. That plan also fits well with her desire to provide educational opportunities to her community.

The Victorians of Hower House:

Once the home opened as a historic house museum in the mid-1980s, regular staffing was necessitated. In response to that need, a second volunteer group was formed to manage the tours and operations. The Victorians of Hower House took charge of their responsibilities, conducting educational tours and presenting programs and exhibits to share this hidden treasure with the surrounding community.

Evolution into the Hower House Museum Guild:

As with many similar volunteer organizations, the membership has ebbed a bit in recent years. Following some unfortunate circumstances, the two groups decided to merge into the Hower House Museum Guild in 2017. This proved to be a beneficial move for the Hower House Museum, joining forces to continue supporting the Museum financially and with the invaluable gift of their time and talents.