Hower House: women’s history and the era of elegance

By Savannah Johns, Managing Editor

The Hower House Museum, home of the Hower family of Akron, OH, showcases women’s history and is “filled with artefacts collected by three of the Hower women on their travels around the world during the decades that spanned the 1880s through the 1930s,” says Tine Hreno, the Museum Guild’s co-vice president. 

Those three women whose history is intertwined with the prominent Victorian Mansion are: Susan Youngker Hower, Blanche Bruot Hower and Grace Hower Crawford. 

Susan and her husband, John Henry Hower, built the Hower home in 1871. John and Susan relocated to Akron near the end of the Civil War. During this time, Akron had shifted from a canal town to a growing and thriving community. The Howers’ decision to establish their family here had a rippling effect on the city. 

John Henry Hower was active in several industries throughout Akron: milling, reaping and cereal. Hower and architect Jacob Snyder developed the style of the Hower home. The 28- room home implemented the “Akron Plan” which was usually used in floorplans for church constructions.

Susan and John had three sons. Their middle son, Milton Otis, collaborated with his brothers and father to buy and run the Turner Oatmeal Mill. This company would become what is now known as Quaker Oats.  

Vintage framed portrait of Susan Youngker Hower
Susan Youngker Hower, original occupant of the Hower House. (Susan Youngker Hower, original occupant of the Hower House)

In 1880, Otis attended Buchtel College and was married to Blanche Eugenia Bruot. Blanche had a strong passion for education and donated out the second floor of the mansion to host a trade school. In 1929, Blanche was elected to the Akron School Board and even served in the Ohio State Legislature in 1934. She was one of only three women in the legislature at that time. 

After Blanche died in 1953, her daughter Grace Hower Crawford, took over the home and carried on her mother’s legacy. Grace held that same passion for education and created the first radio station in Akron Public Schools. She also helped found the Weathervane Playhouse.

Grace Hower, the last person to live in the Hower House, deeded the home to The University of Akron in 1970. During her life, Blanche Bruot Hower had a vision to share and display the treasures she obtained while traveling the world. Today, the museum offers that opportunity.  The three women all had their treasures forever memorialized in 1974 when the volunteer group Friends of Hower House raised money and rallied support to have the house restored to its former glory.

Vintage portrait of Blanche Bruot Hower
Blanche Bruot Hower, visionary of the Hower House Museum (Courtesy of: Hower House Museum)

On two and a half acres right on UA’s campus, the mansion still stands. Volunteers work to keep the museum running by hosting tours, events, dinners, meetings, weddings, and a book club. Their efforts are supported by private donations, the Hower House Museum Guild, and The University of Akron.

During the 100 years that the Hower family occupied the home, they fostered art, education, charity and business into the city of Akron. Their legacy is present to this day.

For more information or to schedule a tour of the Hower House Museum call 330-972-6909 or email [email protected].