A history of guest service...
The Young House was built on land given by Daniel Tilden to his daughter Lydia, wife of Thomas Fitch Young. Their home was built in 1824, with additions built during later years. Over the years, the Young family operated their home as an inn called Young’s Exchange.
Many visitors who came to attend commencement stayed at the Inn, where dinners were served and horses stabled. Thomas Fitch Young was the first postmaster in Hiram as well as the town clerk, and the post office was located in the house. The house was also the site of the first Portage County Library.
The Young property was the nucleus of what is now the main Hiram campus and Hiram village. The house was home to four generations of Young’s. The last owner, Clinton T.J. Young, once expressed the wish that “…the Young house will have a growing place in the life of Hiram.” In 1992, Hiram College purchased the house from his estate.
The Young house is the second oldest house in Hiram. The purchase of the house and its transformation into The Hiram Inn was made possible by the generosity of Robert F. Merwin and Betty MacKay Merwin of Erie, Pennsylvania. Robert Merwin was chairman and Betty Merwin was secretary of Erie Magnetics Company, which Mr. Merwin co-founded in 1942 with his father, Orange F. Merwin. Mr. Merwin was a member of the Hiram College Board of Trustees and served on numerous committees. Both Mr. and Mrs. Merwin were 1936 graduates of Hiram College.
When he served on the Hiram College’s Board of Trustees, Robert Merwin often lamented the fact that visitors to the college had to drive to Aurora in find an overnight accommodation. In 1995, Mr. and Mrs. Merwin gave a $1.2 million gift to the college to build an inn at the corner of State Routes 700 and 82, the site of the Young house. Renovated and expanded in 1996 into The Hiram Inn, it remains an example of New England-style architecture.
About our benefactors Robert & Betty Merwin
Robert Merwin was an influential leader in the growth of Eriez Magnetics, as well as the Erie community.
A driving force in Eriez' current postion as a global market leader, Mr. Merwin served as the company's president from 1951 to 1970 and chairman of the board from 1970 to 1986.
In 1942, Mr. Merwin and his wife, Betty M. Merwin, joined with his father, O.F. Merwin, as original partners in Eriez Manufacturing Co., which later became known as Eriez Magnetics. Eriez designs, develops, manufactures and markets advanced technology equipment for magnetic separation, metal detection, vibratory and material conveying and controlling applications.
Mr. Merwin made internationalization his priority. Under his guidance, Eriez - a company dedicated to improving product purity and productivity in a variety of industries, including food, chemical and metalworking - expanded to Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil.
In 1965, under Mr. Merwin's leadership, Eriez was awarded the President's 'E' award for its substantial contribution to exportation by the Department of Commerce during the Johnson Administration.
In addition to these contributions, Mr. Merwin also had an impact in the local community. He was a member of the Erie School Board for six years, and he led a capital campaign that raised $1 million for the Erie Playhouse. He was the recipient of a number of awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate from Gannon University. Mr. Merwin was recognized as a Distinguished Pennsylvanian by the William Penn Society, received the Man of the Year Award from The Americans for the Competitive Enterprise System, and was a recipient of the first Business/Arts Appreciation Award for his contributions to the arts dating back to the early 1940's.
As a humanitarian, he set an example by being active in various civic and charitable organizations serving the boards of the YMCA, ACES, Hiram College and the Hamot Medical Center. He was a former Trustee of the First Christian Church, The Manufacturers' Association of Erie, the Erie Philharmonic Society and Gannon University, and was active with the American Cancer Society.
Mr. Merwin was also awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Boy Scouts of America, the Alex de Tocqueville Society Award from United Way, and Outstanding Achievement Award by Hiram College.
An Erie native, Mr. Merwin graduated from Hiram College with a degree in economics, and held several patents.
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