Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s former Mahogany Row senior executive suite was one busy place Tuesday.
But none of it had to do with tire industry business.
Instead, hundreds of people took the opportunity to walk the hallways and offices to get what could be their last public look at part of a bygone era in Akron and American corporate history.
The old corporate headquarters and Goodyear Hall across East Market Street were open Monday and Tuesday in advance of a public auction that starts at 9 a.m. today in the Goodyear Hall theater. The auction is intended to sell off thousands of pieces of furniture, equipment and more to clear out the old corporate campus in East Akron in advance of its redevelopment. (Goodyear’s new $160 million headquarters is a half-mile away on Innovation Way.)
“You are looking at the heyday of the rubber and tire industry,” said Joe Brucken, a retired Goodyear Chemical executive who wandered the Mahogany Row hallways. This was his first time back at the former headquarters since he retired in 1998, he said.
“This building has a lot of class. It’s shopworn but has a lot of class,” Brucken said. “Goodyear is the only surviving [U.S.] tire company of any importance.”
And the decisions that have kept Goodyear viable were made in the offices here on Mahogany Row, he said.
People got the chance to wander through all the offices, including the former Goodyear board room. They poked, prodded, opened drawers and doors and oohed and ahed and took pictures.
“You get the sense of awe,” said Bill Turner Jr., 61, Tallmadge resident and retired teacher whose father and grandfather worked at Goodyear.
This was his first time seeing Mahogany Row, he said. “I always heard about it,” he said.
Some visitors sat at the desk in the suite where Goodyear’s chairmen and chief executives conducted business. Some sitting at the chief executive’s desk even found the hidden “panic button,” just to the right under the center drawer, that would summon security if needed.
The offices and woodwork will be preserved, minus the furnishings, for use perhaps by a law firm once the old headquarters is refurbished and leased out by owner Industrial Realty Group.
Many visitors to Mahogany Row noted that the hand-carved wood lining the walls and making up the doors, shelving and more didn’t look like mahogany.
They were right.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or email@example.com.