Step into the past at Wildwood
By Ante Logarusic
The Wildwood Cultural Center is Mentor’s finest cultural gem. The 34-acre estate, now owned and operated by the city, was once the summer home of noted Cleveland industrialist, John G. Oliver. The four-story, 25-room mansion was constructed in 1908 in the English Tudor Revival style of which Oliver had become fond of following his many trips to Europe. Its local ties run even deeper, having been designed and built by Abram Garfield, the youngest son of President James A. Garfield.
For over a century, the property has served as a haven for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
This enchanting property hosted generations of family and friends until the city purchased the estate in 1980 in order to preserve the home and property for use by the community. Over the years, a number of improvements have been made to enhance accessibility and functionality while strictly retaining the historic character of the structure.
One step across the threshold transports you to the turn of the 20th century. The home is replete with all of the details of the times including ornate woodwork, period fixtures, original leaded glass, and other fine features.
But the beauty doesn’t stop there. The grounds are filled with stately trees and beautiful gardens and offer four seasons of splendor along the nearly two miles of beautifully winding paths that make their way throughout the estate offering the afternoon adventurer a tranquil journey that is (unbelievably) just around the corner from busy Mentor Avenue.
This idyllic backdrop serves as the focal point of the city’s cultural arts programming with a variety of classes, camps, clubs, as well as public and private events, held throughout the year. In fact, an estimated 20,000 people visit Wildwood annually.
The popular Wildwood Holiday Craft Show on December 5, 2021 features unique holiday items for sale including ornaments, decorations, stained glass, jewelry, bird feeders, upcycled items, wood signs, greenery, teas, honey, baked goods, soaps, trail mix, gourmet apples, custom knitted items, pet items, and more. Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $2.00 - those 12 and under are free.
Throughout December, you can enjoy a guided historic tour of the festively decorated Manor House during a Wildwood Holiday Open House. Be sure to check out Miniature Santa’s Workshop on the 2nd floor and the O-scale train display provided by the Community Arts Commission & Ohio Toy Train Society in the lower-level craft room. Guests can also enjoy hot chocolate, freshly baked cookies, and more. Tours are free but registration is required.
Santa’s Wild Workshop gives kids 2-12 the opportunity to make a toy in Santa's workshop, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, play games, and visit with Old Saint Nick!
Each spring Wildwood’s garden patio comes alive with the sound of music with the Music at the Manor free concert series featuring a wide variety of musical offerings.
Each June, the Wildwood Fine Arts & Wine Festival offers art lovers a great selection of original works from local artisans as well as live music, great food, and fine wine from local and regional wineries.
In the fall, the popular Mysteries of the Manor Trail Haunted Hayride is a family-friendly program that leads guests down a just-scary-enough haunted trail. Kids of all ages can also enjoy a variety of games and activities.
There is always something to see or do at Wildwood with hundreds of classes offered each year ranging from cooking to falconry. Whatever your interest, you are sure to find something new to enjoy. And, the kids will love the wealth of activities that summer day camps have to offer.
Wildwood is home to a number of clubs as well including the Garden Club, Quilters Guild, and Basketry Guild.
If you’re planning a wedding or other event, Wildwood is the perfect backdrop for your special day. Rentals are available year-round.
The Wildwood Cultural Center is located at 7645 Little Mountain Road. For additional information, visit cityofmentor.com or call (440) 974-5735.