FREMONT - In the years before the Civil War, in a wilderness on the outskirts of a bustling river town, Sardis Birchard built the first portion of a brick house in Spiegel Grove for his nephew. At the time, he could not have foreseen its future as a memorial to a U.S. president, or that his nephew would be that president.
The Hayes Home - the centerpiece of the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont - has undergone two additions, electrification and modernizations, from air conditioning to indoor plumbing. Its most recent transformation includes its return to the 19th century.
A little more than four years after restoration work started, seven areas of the 31-room mansion of President Rutherford B. Hayes have been restored. The home's interior has been converted to the way Hayes and his wife, Lucy, decorated and furnished it.
The Hayes Home parlor has been restored to look as it did in the 19th century.
The work was funded by numerous businesses, individuals, the state of Ohio and the federal government's "Save America's Treasures" program.
The project's public unveiling comes Saturday when an open house is planned 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For this day only, admission to the Hayes Home is free.
Guides are to escort groups of 15 at a time through the restored downstairs rooms. To accommodate the anticipated crowd, 5 minutes are to be spent in each room before moving to the next.
In a tent set up between the home and the museum, visitors can view a video detailing the restoration process.
The presidential center is at Hayes and Buckland avenues and is affiliated with the Ohio Historical Society.
Go to www.rbhayes.org for a list of year-round special events or call (419) 332-2081.