Yesterday Michelle and I went back to Stranleigh for the behind-the-scenes tour. We had a great time and heard some interesting stories, but I didn’t get as many pictures as I would’ve liked.
Stranleigh was the home of Robert A. and Page Stranahan. Robert Stranahan brought the Champion Spark Plug company to Toledo in the early 1900s and was one of Toledo’s most prominent citizens.
The Metroparks staff took us all over the 35-room mansion, from the boiler room to the attic (now used for storage and office space). We saw everything that was left from the Stranahans’ time, and other parts that were no longer recognizable.
The highlight was the dining room, with hand-painted French wallpaper featuring scenes from the Tuileries Gardens in Paris. This was carefully stripped from some European villa and reinstalled in Toledo. There was a button in the floor so Mrs. Stranahan could summon the maid without raising her voice. The tour took us into the kitchen where similar buttons around the house would light up a panel, alerting the staff when someone needed assistance (or a cup of coffee).
We went down to the basement, first to the family game room, complete with underground shooting range, and then to the massive boiler room. Five boilers and a full-time engineer were needed to heat the house. We came back up through the laundry room and past the freezers, into which the Stranahans’ grandchildren used to sneak in the middle of the night to steal ice cream.
Upstairs we passed through the maids’ quarters and the sewing room, and then to the attic where grandchildren slept in bunk beds and where the Stranahans kept their out-of-season clothes and spare treasures under the massive steel rafters.
Unfortunately, most of this was hard to picture. The staff areas of the house were long ago turned into Metroparks offices. We walked through what were basically people’s cubicles, squinting at black-and-white photos and trying to ignore the employees’ stacks of paperwork and dirty coffee mugs. The stories were fascinating, but I would have enjoyed them just as much sitting in the dining room or the enclosed porch on the back of the house.
The preserved parts of the house are freely accessible on the weekends, and well worth a visit. I plan to go back during the day with a tripod and get more and better pictures very soon.