Arthur Garford was in the business of mobility. He discovered a way to make riding bicycles — a popular activity in the late 1800s — more comfortable. After buying and absorbing a number of saddle companies, he also became the primary provider of saddles in the region. He quickly made his fortune, then in 1985 he built what is now known as the Hickories Museum, named after the distinct trees surrounding the property. 

It’s a little slice of the Garfords’ elite and glamorous life as well as Lorain County’s past. Its third owner, the Lorain County Historical Society, gives guests a chance to experience what it may have been like to be part of the family for a day. 

“We have had it evolve into what is known as a house museum, meaning people who tour there will see evidence of a kitchen, a dining room, a parlor and Mrs. Garford’s sitting room,” explains executive director Bill Bird. “We’re trying to tell people how the Garfords lived and some of the habits and nuances of the life that existed for people who had money and prominence.” 

History buffs and the casually intrigued alike will appreciate the magnificence of the house itself. From Tuesday through Saturday every week, a guided tour will lead guests through two spacious floors showcasing elaborate woodwork in oak, mahogany and cherry, Tiffany windows, multiple fireplaces and a chapel. 

“Of the houses that are open to the public, the Hickories’ architecture is the finest,” says Bird. “In terms of architecture and beauty it’s a valuable asset. In terms of keeping history alive, Mr. Garford was a prime example of the entire Industrial Revolution; the economy was booming, and he was a real central figure in that.”