Roadtrip: Vintage Columbus

12 Aug

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It is our last day in Columbus, we have spent the last two nights at the Short North Bed & Breakfast. Located in the trendy Short North district, this large Victorian home is in the midst of a thriving neighborhood; homes are red brick and date back to the early 20th century, High Street is home to galleries, specialty boutiques and tons of restaurants. I finish packing as the tantalizing scent of bacon climbs the staircase, in the breakfast room Trelene has prepared a feast! Glass bowls hold chunks of fresh fruit on an antique buffet, fresh brewed coffee is calling my name, morning sunlight floods the room and sparkles off the crystal chandeliers. Trelene arrives with plates of scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and buttered English muffins, there’s a homemade salsa on the table, it has just the right amount of spice and heat and tastes delicious on my eggs. When we are finished Kris loads the car, I thank our hostess and bid her farewell.

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Columbus never stands still, as often as we get here there is always something new to see. The city resides along the banks of the Scioto River and has been hard at work reconnecting downtown to the riverfront; the result is called the Scioto Mile. There are 145 acres of parkland stretching from the Arena District to the Whittier Peninsula; bikeways, pedestrian paths and boulevards make this area extremely people friendly. The Promenade leads us along the river, pavers make up the walkways, the 1920’s limestone floodwall was restored to its original Beaux Arts splendor, cafe tabletops are complete with inlaid chess/checkerboards. A stone colonnade lines Civic Center Drive, this morning the swings are all occupied, huge stone planter boxes are overflowing with hot pink Hibiscus, orange Canna’s, purple Petunias and trailing vines. Every so many feet we encounter low fountains; a marble pedestal supports a lovely arrangement of bronze leaves, in the center, clusters of fish spout water from their mouths, the sound of trickling water, soothing. Our walk continues to Bicentennial Park; home to the fabulous looking restaurant Milestone 229, rose gardens, climbing wall and an amphitheater, the main attraction is definitely the Scioto Mile Fountain.

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As human beings, I think we are naturally drawn to water, fountains are often centerpieces, gathering spots in urban areas, this is definitely true of the Scioto Mile Fountain. This 200 ft long, 15,000 sq ft  patio-splash park-public art piece-interactive fountain is the place to be. As we approach, the main source of water is coming from a stainless steel circular blossom; jets of water shoot skyward from the center, a smaller volume of water flows from the outer ring. Gradually ground level spray nozzles come to life, as does the sound of laughter, five tall stainless steel halo structures begin to throw mist from the top ring, water begins to accumulate under our feet. We watch as young and old try to figure out the sequence of the jets, passersby pause to take in the scene, diners at Milestone 229 have a perfect view. We walk to the end of the park, actually stop and smell the roses, then it’s back to the car.

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Columbus is home to some of the best  vintage stores we’ve ever come across; it’s a big part of what keeps bringing us back. Years ago we discovered one of the best stores ever in Cleveland called Flower Child; a couple of years ago they opened a second location here in Columbus, c’mon, let’s have a look! The moment I step inside I smile, this place has everything from vintage jewelry and lava lamps to art glass and tiki bars. Unlike the average antique shop, here you find the colorful, zany, Mod and sometimes wacky items from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. They do a fantastic job with their displays; instead of the usual shop where one large space is divided into dozens of small dealer spaces, they arrange it as a furniture or department store would; complete living rooms, dining rooms and bar sets, everything you need to complete your room organized into one setting. The selection of pieces is outstanding, they even make gold, avocado green and orange look tasteful and fun!  I haven’t seen a grouping yet that I wouldn’t take home…. Kris and I love the chrome and lucite table and chairs, the bamboo patio set complete with a bar and cocktail glasses is cool too, the colored glass is striking, look at all the hanging lamps! Having grown up around much of the stuff seen here, our affection runs deep. Once we have finished looking around both floors we decide to grab some lunch.

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Conveniently, we walk across High Street for our afternoon meal at Zen Cha Tea Salon, another of our regular stops when in Columbus. Inside, the space feels tranquil, tables and floors are pale wood, a flat screen TV on the back wall projects soothing images of nature. As we sit and unwind we sip our Spring iced tea, a wonderful combination of sweetened green tea, strawberries and blueberries, so good. Our meal arrives, today we are having the Miso Ramen soup with tofu, very flavorful, and the Ginger Beef Salad. Thinly sliced medium rare beef lies atop crunchy greens, drizzled with a tangy ginger dressing-delicious! Now that our stomachs are pacified, it is time to start heading north.

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As we head out of the city we make a stop at Columbus Architectural Salvage on Clara St. The 10,000 sq ft warehouse houses both interior and exterior pieces salvaged from homes and buildings that were to be torn down. When I see such magnificent pieces such as fireplace surrounds, mirrors, doors and amazing light fixtures, I can only imagine what the buildings they came out of must have been like; I am sad to see such fine examples of architecture disappear, but glad that the materials are being reused and recycled. Everything is very well organized, you can buy antique doorknobs made from glass, porcelain or brass, hardware is neatly contained in a series of drawers. A complete bowling lane rests on the floor, peg boards hold a variety of tools and accessories. Vintage bathroom sinks in pink, mint green and white rest on pedestals, a box of large film reels sits near a group of old theater seats, street signs and concrete urns await a new purpose.

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We continue up High Street into Clintonville, this neighborhood has a few more vintage stores we want to check out; first on our list is the Eclectiques Antique Mall. The building itself is 8,000 sq ft and has 37 dealers, from jewelry to postcards, you never know what you may find here. We get lucky and find a piece we have been looking for, one of those fake electric log sets that light up when plugged in, perfect for our 60’s free-standing fireplace. The basement is our favorite, this is where most of the mid-century furniture is found; bar stools with chrome legs, kidney-shaped coffee tables and chairs upholstered in frisee, it’s all so cool! We pay for our purchase, put the log in the trunk, then walk next door.

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Euro Classics Antiques is not your average antique shop, the 4,000 sq ft showroom displays gorgeous oak furniture from the 1820’s to the 1920’s, specializing in Arts and Crafts furnishings. The wood is stained dark, bookshelves are fitted with leaded glass doors, tables and chairs are stylish and sturdy. Down the stairs, the lower level has pieces from as late as the 1960’s, Kris is tempted by a bedroom set, unfortunately our SRT-4 is not the type vehicle one would haul furniture in…..The Boomerang Room is right across the street, as the name implies, the store concentrates on fabulous mid-century items. Gorgeous pieces from Broyhill, Lane, Knoll, McCobb and Herman Miller fill the shop. Shag throw rugs cover the floor, I see that the darker wood of the late 60’s and 70’s is now in vogue. I see sets of cocktail shakers, oversize lamps, modern art sculptures, and vases; I wish I could take all of it home! Speaking of home….Our visit to Columbus has been wonderful, now we are buckled in, on our way back to the D.

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