Kingwood Center is a gorgeous estate and gardens located in Mansfield, Ohio. Welcoming thousands each year, you’ll find one visit simply isn’t enough.
Kingwood Center is one of my family’s favorite places to visit, relax, and enjoy the beauty of each season. You’ll find plenty to see no matter what time of the year you opt to visit.
I especially look forward to the very first blooms in spring as well as seeing Kingwood decked out in lights during Christmas at Kingwood.
When my kids were younger, it was a fun place to stop after our monthly homeschool skate day. We’d ramble along the brick paths in search of the resident peacocks and stop by the duck pond so the kids could feed the ducks.
As an adult, it’s a great place to stroll the grounds and watch the flowers change throughout the seasons, enjoy a romantic picnic with my husband or attend one of the many monthly events; from live music to classes, there’s always something going on.
About Kingwood Center Gardens
Kingwood Center Gardens, the estate of Charles Kelley King and his second wife, Luise, was built in 1926 by prominent Cleveland area architect Clarence Mack.
Mack was known for the exquisite homes he built in the Lakewood, Shaker Heights, and the Rocky River areas, and Kingwood Hall was no exception. It cost over $400,000 to build this Mansfield, Ohio showplace.
The grounds were designed by the landscape architecture firm of Pitkin and Mott. In addition to the gardens, King would have enjoyed his own tennis court and one of the only inground pools in the area.
Mr. King died in 1952. Divorced twice, and with no children, the home was opened to the public a year after his death and operated entirely with a private trust set up by King. During the great recession, it became clear that changes would have to be made to continue to maintain and operate the complex.
The mansion, Kingwood Hall, and numerous gardens encompass 47 urban acres, a tranquil oasis in the midst of the city.
Who was Charles Kelley King?
If you’re like me, you’re probably curious as to how Mr. King amassed his fortune.
At the turn of the 20th century, Mansfield was an industrial town. Charles Kelley King began a successful career at Ohio Brass in 1893 as the first electrical engineer employed by the company.
From there, he went on to become the President and Chairman of the Board.
The forward-thinking company started out making brass fittings for horse-drawn buggies before propelling themselves forward with the manufacture of electrical fittings for railroads and trolleys around the turn of the 20th century.
Visiting Kingwood Gardens
This gem in Richland County welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
There’s never a bad time to visit. I love seeing the flowers come up in the spring, viewing the tulips that cover the lawn by May and the smelling the variety of roses that bloom during the summer.
My family has enjoyed strolling the grounds amid big bugs and whimsical frogs but one of my favorite times to visit is during the Christmas season when Kingwood Hall is transformed into a Winter Wonderland housing dozens of beautifully decorated Christmas Trees.
Today, you’ll find a greenhouse with plants from around the world, a Carriage House that houses the public restrooms, workshop and event areas, a duck pond, and a brand new Visitor Center with a cafe and gift shop.
There are several distinct areas to the gardens. The Terrace Gardens, Woodland Gardens, Rose Garden, Herb Garden, and perhaps my favorite, the Historic or Formal Gardens.
The Terrace Garden leads to the Formal Garden which is a series of areas divided with walls made of hedges.
It also features several of my favorite garden sculptures; the Satyr and Pan, which remind me of the half-man, half-goat creatures depicted in Greek and Roman mythology and of more interest to me, similar to the Fauns mentioned in the Chronicles of Narnia.
When I look at the Pan statue, I tend to think of Tumnus. Check out this post about the Statues and Fountains that you’ll find on the grounds of Kingwood Center.
You can even print a scavenger hunt to take with you on your next visit.
The formal garden is also the site of the former swimming pool. The lattice backdrop surrounding the Satyr statue connects the buildings that were once used as the male and female bathhouses. Neither is open to the public at this time.
Many of the gardens are planted and replanted with the changing seasons. I loved the rose garden, but the tulips that bloom in the spring is probably the best-known and anticipated display.
Touring Kingwood Hall
Kingwood Hall is the 20,000 square foot mansion on the grounds. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open for self-guided tours on select days.
The bottom floor features an exhibit hall with room for workshops. If it is your first time to visit the mansion, I suggest that you take a few minutes to read the information behind the frames that line the hallway as they will give you background on the estate and Ohio Brass, Mr. King’s employer.
You’ll climb the stairs to the main, or second floor, to see the Dining Room, Sitting Room, Mr. King’s Office, and the Library which features a large collection of gardening books which contain original furnishings and look much as they did when Mr. King resided in the home.
The Butler’s Pantry and Kitchen area was recently opened to the public.
The third floor served as administrative offices until the recent addition of the Visitor Center and are now open for guided tours. Visitors will see the bedrooms of Mr. & Mrs. King (check out her ensuite bathroom) and the servants quarters.
Kingwood Center Events
Kingwood Events range from children’s workshops to special guided tours to Kingwood Center Live on the Lawn concert series. Weddings are also popular at Kingwood Center.
When my kids were young, I signed them up for quite a few workshops. They made floral centerpieces for holidays, learned about roses, and received their own rose bush, learned about carnivorous plants (probably their favorite workshop) and each received a Venus Fly Trap.
Adult workshops are also available and range from photography classes to gardening to floral design and more.
Recently, my family has toured the mysterious Townsend House that is located across the street on Park Avenue West as well as a Statues and Fountain tour.
Kingwood Center for Families
The littles in the family will love experiencing The Peacock Playhouse. Located in what was the former Gate House, this space has been newly designed for children and their families to explore nature through books, games and art through self-guided activities.
You’ll also find the nearby Storybook Forest to be a gentle walk through the woods.
Tips for Visiting Kingwood Center and Kingwood Center Greenhouse
- Consider visiting on the first Monday of the month for FREE admission.
- If you are local or plan to visit several times, you may want to consider purchasing a membership. This provides free admission, discounted workshops and classes and other perks like a Behind the Scenes tour for members only.
- Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes. The grounds aren’t huge but if you plan to see the Nature Pond, and all the gardens including the Woodland Garden, you’ll walk on several surfaces from grass to brick to concrete to a dirt path through the woods.
- Take your own water.
- Peruse the website or call ahead to make sure the home is open for self-guided tours if you plan to check it out.
- Don’t leave home without your camera or cell phone so you can snap a few photos.
- Sunscreen and/or a hat isn’t a bad idea.
- Pets are not allowed due to the resident ducks and the peacocks/peahens that wander the grounds.
- Pack a few quarters if you’re visiting with children or want to feed the ducks. Duck food is available in the machines by the Duck Pond.
- The Visitor Center features a gallery that tells the history of Mr. King and the grounds. You won’t want to miss it.
The cafe is a wonderful spot to grab a bit to eat or order a glass of wine and visit with a friend. During the summer, you may enjoy outdoor seating on the patio.
Kingwood Center Hours & Kingwood Center Cost
Hours: The gardens are open daily from 10 am to 7pm and the Garden Shop is open 10 am to 5 pm
Kingwood Hall is open daily from 10 a. to 5 pm.
The Greenhouse and Peacock Playhouse remain closed due to the virus.
Cost: Entrance is $8 per person for ages 13 and up. Those under 12 are free. Free admission is offered on the first Monday of every month. Members get free admission. Advance reservations are required.
Address for entrance: 50 N. Trimble Road Mansfield, Ohio 44906
Planning to spend the day in Mansfield? Check out my Mansfield area staycation guide for ideas of other places to see and enjoy.
Why not turn your day in Mansfield into an overnight? Find cheap hotels near Kingwood Center using our handy map below and book your stay today!
Have you been to Kingwood Center? Which appeals to you more, the home or estate grounds?
Originally published October 2012.