JULY 25, 1954
PHOTOGRAPHS ON these pages show memorable events in the
life of Mrs. Firestone. Above she is shown as she appeared on her
wedding day in 1895.
MR. AND MRS. Firestone are pictured in 1907 in a six-cylinder
Ford car. With them are their sons Harvey S., Jr., and Russell A.
in the rear seat and Leonard W. with his father at the wheel.
MR. AND MRS. Harvey S. Firestone appeared in the Akron
Centennial parade, July 21, 1925, with a team of thoroughbred horses
from his stables.
Life Of Mrs. Idabelle Firestone
Family, Music And ChaJi
By Kenneth Nichols
Reprinted from Akron Beacon
Journal — July 7
A woman who, at 21, found her
self wed to an unemployed ex
buggy salesman died shortly after
noon on July 7 in the baronial man
sion he built for her in later years
at 1255 W. Market st.
She was Mrs. Idabelle Firestone,
79, widow of the founder of the
billion-dollar-a-year Firestone Tire
& Rubber Co.
The multi-roomed showplace —
Harbel Manor^—which was her last
home was a far cry from the $25-
a-month rented dwelling where she
first lived as the bride of Harvey
S. Firestone, Sr.
❖ * *
BUT IN adversity or plenty
the Firestone home was a place of
serenity and grace, reflecting the
characteristics of its gentle mis
At 75, Mrs. Firestone told an
interviewer: “I think we should all
m,ake the best possible job of our
life’s work, whatever it may be.
Mine has been that of a home
Those who knew her as a pretty
brown-haired young mother or as
a distinguished looking, gray-hair
ed matron could say she had made
a success of her life’s work.
SHE AND Mr. Firestone had
been married five years when they
arrived in Akron by train during
the height of a January snow
storm in 1900.
Mrs. Firestone was 26; her hus
band 31. They had an infant son,
Harvey, Jr. They walked from the
depot to the rambling, wooden
Windsor Hotel — a remodeled
church building—at Broadway and
E. Mill sts.
From that time forward, Akron
was her home.
Firestone was by no means broke
then. He had received $45,000 for
his share of a rubber business in
MORE THAN that he owned a
patent for applying tires to car
riage and buggy wheels—and he
had a job—manager of tire sales
for the Whitman & Barnes Co. on
Whitman and Barnes manufac
tured twist drills and drop for
gings but, like many another Akron
concern at that time, had a “tire
“Tires,” in that time, meant
solid rubber tires for horse-drawn
vehicles. Firestone, like most men
of that time, thought gasoline-
powered autos were “ingenious
rather than useful.” Unlike most
men then he thought the electric
car might become “a commercial
The future seemed rosy enough
then for the young Mrs. Firestone
but soon she was to need all her
tact and skill as a “good manager”
of the home.
Firestone was to risk every
penny of his own, and all he could
borrow, in the great venture which,
as the gasoline car became “use
ful,” was to prove a fabulous suc
FOR TEN YEARS, the Fire
stones lived in a $40-a-month rent
ed house at S. Forge st. and Fir
Hill and saved their money so he
could buy stock in his own com
It was there, in the Fir Hill
house, that most of the other five
children after Harvey, Jr., were
born—Russell, Raymond, Leonard,
Roger and Elizabeth.
She was there, proud of husband
and son, when Harvey, Jr.—then
five—turned on the steam in an
old abandoned foundry building at
Sweitzer and Miller aves.—the
new Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.
TO GET the factory going, the
elder Firestone had stalked and
“sold” Will Christy, “the biggest
man in Akron and probably the
most influential man in Ohio.”
Christy, a banker and builder of
electric street railways, eventually
bought $60,000 worth of stock and
became the company’s president,
lending the struggling company—
as Firestone later said—“financial
tone and respectability.”
As the Firestone company grew
from its original $4,500 building
and force of 12 employes, so did
the social and family responsibil
ities of Mrs. Firestone.
Her husband, who had been gen
eral manager, became president of
his own firm and safely in control
—and, around 1910, they could
build a home of their own on Me
IN THE TEENS, the Firestones
built a house of dreams—Harbel
Manor, the title made up of parts
of their own first names.
Yet, Firestone in his book “Men
of Rubber” held that the house
was much bigger than he needed.
“ ... in most cases,” he said,
“and especially with men who have
earned their own money, the house
is just built, and when it is done,
no one quite knows why it was
As the wife of a tremendously
successful industrialist, one with
friendship among great men, Mrs.
Firestone found need of all her
social tact and intuition.
Mrs. Firestone, however, could
be as much at home with famous
people—almost anywhere—as with
her own family in the quiet of the
AS A GIRL, she studied music
at Alma College in St. Thomas,
Ont. When her children were
young, many evenings in the
Firestone home were spent around
the organ or piano. Often, she
would compose as she played.
In later years, her sons insisted
that she put her songs on paper.
Out of that insistence came the
hauntingly beautiful “If I Could
Tell You” and “In My Garden,”
heard as the theme music of the
Firestone radio and television pro
grams for years.
Other songs composed by Mrs.
Firestone include “You Are The
Song in My Heart,” “Do You Re
call?” “Melody of Love” and
“Bluebirds.” M r s. Firestone’s
songs have been published, and
many leading opera and concert
stars, including Richard Crooks,
Rise Stevens and Eleanor Steber,
have recorded them. In 1948 Mrs.
Firestone was elected a member of
the American Society of Compos
ers, Authors and Publishers (AS-
ON HER 70th birthday, November 10, 1944, Mrs. Firestone is shown as she cut the cake. Singing’
“Happy Birthday” to her are her sons, from the left, Roger S., Russell A., Leonard K., Harvey S., Ji'-*
and Raymond C.