The land was originally owned by Elmore’s “founding father,” Israel Harrington, but was never developed by him. The property was acquired in the late 1800′s by Frederick Von Vultee, a local businessman who owned a butcher and dry goods shop in town (in the building currently occupied by Attorney Kent Weiss). A nephew of the Von Vultee family, Frederick Steiffler, was occupying the home and land when Joe Schedel was a border there. Mr. Schedel took a 99 year lease on the house and land from Mr. Steiffler in the late 1920s and eventually purchased the estate outright in 1969.
The original property was significantly larger prior to construction of the Ohio Turnpike beginning in 1955. That dramatic change, however, prompted the Schedels to create the Japanese garden in the floodplain and also construct the “Shack.” (The Schedel’s summer home adjacent to the lakes in the lowland area of the grounds.)
Not only were the Schedels proficient in landscape and horticulture, but Joe Schedel was also an award winning ornithologist. He and his wife Marie raised dozens of rare birds and waterfowl on the property — some of which had NEVER been bred and reared in captivity. (the Australian Shell Duck is one example). Mrs. Schedel had a couple of “pet” birds that were trained to “play ball” and would come to her like a dog when called!
Upon the passing of Joe Schedel in 1981, Marie stopped actively maintaining the grounds, and between his passing and hers in 1989, the estate fell into a state of disrepair. Upon Marie’s death the Schedel Foundation took possession of the estate and began the task of restoring the estate to its once grand condition. The gates opened to the public in 1991.
On July 12, 1992, a tornado touched down on the grounds causing extensive damage to the house, the Japanese garden and destroying or severely damaging 131 mature trees. Many of those trees were never located after the storm passed.
Guided tours of the manor house and the summer cottage are available Wednesday’s and Friday’s at 1:00 for an additional charge of $8 per person. The tours are normally led by the foundation’s curator and archivist or the executive director and take approximately 90 minutes.