COLUMBUS: Deco, Dirt Bikes and Dining

29 Apr

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Every Spring, just before Easter,Kris and I make a trip down to Columbus Ohio.   This trip we had a specific destination in mind: the Ohio Judicial Center. We have been driving by this extraordinary building each time we come to the city, this time we wanted to tour the inside. That meant we had to hop on the freeway instead of taking our usual leisurely route, that’s ok, this place is worth it! The official name of the building is The Thomas J Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, it is home to the Supreme Court of Ohio and it’s affiliated offices, along with the Ohio Court of Claims, the Ohio Judicial Conference and the Law Library. It is SPECTACULAR!! Really….The building opened in 1933, it was referred to as “Ohio’s Pride”,  with good reason. Once inside we were greeted at the front desk, we inquired about looking around the place and were told we could. We handed over our driver’s license, copies were made and badges created, ah yes, the post 911 world. Next up security; we placed our metal objects on the conveyor belt as we ourselves walked through the metal detector, no beeps, we were free to roam!

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The interior is an Art Deco wonderland; floor to ceiling it is a masterpiece. The Grand Concourse is an architectural gem and a tribute to the craftsmen of the time. Marble lined walls run the length of the building. Bronze images of Ohio governmental leaders line the east and west walls. Meeting Room 102 is stunning; 11 murals swathe the walls. Scenes painted in bright colors tell us the story of Ohio’s growth and development. The courtroom is next; the room is ornate and complex, a mix of Rococo, Art Deco and Renaissance styles, it is best to look at it one feature at a time. The ceiling is the most ornate; divided into five sections it represents Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. Gold leaf sparkles on the coffered ceiling details, elegant light fixtures hang from above. 15 murals and walnut panels encase the walls, public seats are refurbished originals. Hearing room 106 is adorned with 11 murals titled The Progress of Industry, they have a bit of a Diego Rivera feel to them and again they are wonderful. To the elevator lobby; both ends of the stairwell feature lavish mosaics, elevator door panels are bas-relief bronze carvings, vestibule ceilings are embellished with murals, even the cornices are garnished! The ground floor decor is dedicated to Ohio’s American Indian history; again we have mosaic ceilings, carved elevator doors, and these fantastic bow-and-arrow light fixtures, a visitor education center tells the story of Ohio courts. The 11th floor is the home of the Law Library; oil paintings represent the evolution of law in western civilization. The Law Library reading room is another knock-out; here the murals represent the history of the printed word, Dale Chihuly blown-glass sculptures grace the east and west ends of the room. The light fixtures are fabulous, the wooden door frame is exquisite. There is a wonderful atrium on the 13th floor; from here you can gaze up to the 14th and 15th floors. In this particular area the decor leans more toward the moderne style; the light fixtures and decorative railings are superb. While we were up here we took advantage of the wonderful view of the city and the river.

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Click HERE for Deco slideshow

We had built up a hearty appetite, we decided to have lunch the iconic restaurant in German Village called Schmidts. The Schmidt family has been in the food business since 1886, the restaurant is located in a historic brick livery stable. When you step inside you are face to face with the desserts, most famous are the jumbo cream puffs; 1/2 lb of whipped filling stuffed inside a delicate pastry shell, save room for this one. The interior is much of what you’d expect from a traditional German restaurant; wood furnishings, German flags, traditional costumes, beer and of course German fare. For an appetizer we had the sauerkraut bratwurst balls, coated in a crispy batter and served with a mustard dipping sauce, they were delicious. For the entrée we chose the saurbraten; tender braised beef sliced and served with spatzel and the unique gingersnap gravy, there’s nothing like it.

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There was enough time in the day to make the short drive to Pickerington and check out the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. The main floor hosts the Hall of Fame inductees; legends of the track, road and trails in the motorcycling world. Rotating exhibits fill the remainder of the floor space, it makes the experience new each time you visit. The new display was all about dirt-track racing in America; the photos are amazing. I was open-mouthed as I read the details of the riders feats and accomplishments. Kris is always excited to check out anything mechanical so this place is right up his alley. He fondly remembered the  uncommon dirt bikes of his youth; Hodaka, Yankee, Bultaco and Husquvarna, names he had long forgotten. Vintage Harley Davidson’s seemed to be everywhere; from dirt to street in every decade. The museum is laid out in an easy to follow manner, lots of bikes on display to ooh and ahh over, they do a wonderful job telling the story of the motorcycle community.

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After a little relaxation in our room we were ready for dinner. We headed to Haiku in the Short North District on High Street. They have a lovely setting for outdoor dining, but it was too chilly so we settled for the indoors.The vibe at Haiku is mellow, the decor modern Asian, the menu is large with a nice variety of items. There were a few special rolls for the evening, not knowing which to choose we asked the couple at the next table for their recommendation. With their suggestions and a couple of our own choosing we placed our order.  Service can be hit or miss here, this visit it was on the slow side. At last, our food arrived and everything was quite good. It had been a long day so we stopped for a nightcap before going back to our room for the evening. As much as we like the different districts in Columbus, we are always drawn back to German Village. This time we stopped in at Club 185 on Livingston Ave. The place is gorgeous inside; vintage everything from the spectacular and unusual tin ceiling to the red brick walls, hardwood floors and furnishings. Though it has served many purposes through the decades, it has been a bar since 1954. It has a great laid back and welcoming feeling, making it a popular destination; the photo booth is a fun addition. We sat at the bar and enjoyed our drinks as we talked with the bartender about the building and the city, it was the perfect ending to a great day.

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