Search results for 'columbus ohio'

Columbus Ohio: Still Wandering..

16 May

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We’re in Columbus Ohio exploring downtown, on Fourth Street we pass a beautiful, old building, No. 16 Engine House; a sign out front informs us it’s the Central Ohio Fire Museum and Learning Center. The exterior of the building is red brick topped with a decorative layer of gold brick, like frosting on a cake, a fancy tower anchors the right side. Firefighters, corporate and community sponsors raised nearly $700,000.00 to authentically restore the 1908 building; it opened as a museum in 2002. Run by area firefighters, the museum teaches fire safety, prevention and life-saving procedures to people of all ages. Over 1500 area firefighters continue to contribute money through payroll deductions to help finance the project.

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The 1908 interior is still intact with glazed brick walls, tin ceiling and fire poles. Fire trucks include an 1881 Amoskeag steam fire engine, a 1913 Ford Model T American LaFrance and a 1920 Obenchain Boyer chemical engine. Models vary from a hand-drawn hook and ladder to a horse-drawn model and finally a motorized apparatus. Displays capture the everyday life of firefighters; uniforms, equipment, fire alarms. Black and white photos show firemen in action putting out raging flames, display cases hold speaking trumpets, shields, helmets, wood water mains. There are hoses and fire extinguishers; placards do a good job of explaining  what everything is. It’s very kid-friendly, little ones can dress up in firefighter’s clothes, drive the truck, slide down the pole– hey, that sounds like fun! 

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We cross into the back section, this is originally where the horses were kept, one stall remains as an example of how the space was used. We check out the Safety Kitchen, the exhibit pinpoints where most home fires begin. The Safe Bedroom allows kids to practice escaping from a burning bedroom with real smoke effects. We stop and stare into a full-size children’s bedroom as it appears after a fire, I get chills looking at the melted toys, pictures and damaged furnishings. Volunteers interact with visitors, they’re enthusiastic and share lots of interesting information.

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While we’re downtown we decide to have lunch at Grass Skirt, a fun, Tiki-themed restaurant and bar on North Grant Ave. Part of the Columbus Food League family of restaurants Grass Skirt serves up Hawaiian and Asian dishes along with a 4-page, Kahiki-inspired drink menu jam-packed with Rum/Non-Rum cocktails; Mai Tai anyone? Inside lights are low, the custom-made skull chandelier hangs central in the room. Blowfish lights, a waterfall complete with a Sailor Jerry Hula girl, tiki torches, sculptures and a fabulous glowing lava wall make this place kitschy-cool! The S-shaped bar is made from custom-colored concrete inlaid with colored glass and mother-of-pearl. Open shelves hold tiki mugs, pandas and Buddha’s. We wander around looking at the fish floats, pine log tiki carvings, masks and the ship’s rigging–all very Polynesian.

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Paging through the menu we finally make our selections, we watch old episodes of Family Affair on the bar’s flat screen TV until the food arrives. The Island Nachos are a platter of won ton chips smothered with black beans, creamy cheese sauce, pineapple salsa, shredded lettuce, guacamole and lime sour cream; every bite is delicious. The teriyaki tofu tacos are really good; marinated tofu, cucumber-mint slaw and avocado-yum! At the end of the meal our server places an upside-down skull on the table, she activates the dry ice and smoke billows out the top and hovers above the table; what a great way to end a dining experience.

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We’re just about out of time in Ohio’s capital city. A quick computer check informs us that north of us in Worthington a vintage shop will be open for another hour or so—let’s go! Off the beaten path for sure, in a 2-story office warehouse complex is Dawn of Retro, a resale shop dedicated to Mid-Century Modern and vintage furniture and decor spanning from the 50’s to the 70’s. The space is a maze of dressers, buffets and china cabinets; from blonde to walnut each one acts as a resting place for glassware, serving pieces, ash trays and the like. Puffy, furry couches in wild 1970’s patterns snuggle up to table lamps, retro arc lamps and starburst clocks. Broyhill, Kent Coffey, classics to funky, orange and avocado green. Dawn has it all stuffed into two floors of space. In a cabinet I find a set of glasses I can’t live without…I can’t wait to get home and use them!

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Columbus Ohio: Wandering…

6 May

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We’ve dipped south about 3 hours into Columbus Ohio; after spending the night in German Village we take a drive around the area before heading downtown. On Kossuth, a quiet neighborhood street, we pass an unassuming cement block building, a Packard Service sign hangs above the open door, a 1957 Nash Ambassador Custom peeks out onto the street, vintage signs dangle from the ceiling. What is this place? We park at the corner and wander into the building, we are greeted by a gentlemen asking us if we’re his appointment–no, do we need one? He smiles and invites us into the garage, he explains he is expecting a local couple to come have a look around and encourages us to do the same–thank you! The building was built in 1930 for 80 years it was an automotive repair and paint shop, today it holds the personal collection of these two business partners. They own about 40 cars between them, then there’s the soap box derby cars hanging on the wall, signs from gas and oil companies, antique gas pumps, banners, flags, Dodge, Buick, Plymouth and Packard memorabilia, and the largest collection of license plates I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

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Cars are parked single file against the right wall, at an angle on the left. The Nash is the first vehicle to greet us, look at that rear vent window. The red 1958 Edsel is gorgeous, see those buttons in the center of the steering wheel? P for park, R, reverse, N, neutral, Hi and Lo, believe it or not, that’s how you shift!  The 1956 Cadillac has the gas cap hidden under the tail light, the 56 Imperial is elegant, there’s another Edsel over there–powder blue, cool door-mounted mirror, look at that E mounted on the front fender, sweet. Lots of chrome, huge bumpers, designs resemble aircraft, torpedoes, rockets. The back section holds older vehicles; a bunch of Packards, an Auburn. There’s so much to look at; display cabinets are filled with hood ornaments, advertising and trinkets. Goodyear, Shell, Mobil, neon signs, city plaques for licence plates, how cool. It was sheer luck we happened by when the door was open, the owner was extremely generous with his time and stories. If you’d like to check out the Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum for yourself, call 614-271-0888 and make an appointment to stop by.

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Before you read any further, do me a favor, click on this link: “A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte”. Done? Good. We’re in the Town-Franklin neighborhood on East Town Street at a free, public, Topiary Park, we are looking at the topiary interpretation of George Seurat’s said painting, in other words, it’s a landscape of a painting of a landscape–it’s the only known topiary of a painting. The garden was started in 1988, local sculptor James T Mason designed and built the bronze frames and planted the shrubs. His wife, Elaine, was the original topiarist, she trained the city gardeners how to trim the topiaries. The pond was added in 1989 representing the Seine in Paris, hills were also added to the landscape. The gatehouse came along in 1998 and is home to the Visitors Center.

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I have seen reproductions of A Sunday Afternoon multiple times, here the Parisians enjoying a leisurely afternoon are made of Yew but you totally get the picture. Throughout the park there are 54 human figures, 8 boats, 3 dogs, a monkey and a cat. We walk along taking it all in; flower beds are freshly weeded and mulched, daffodils are in bloom, shrubs are just starting to fill in. I recognize the woman with the parasol and large bustle who resides in the forefront of the painting. Characters gaze out across the grounds, a man in a boat is fishing. They sit, they stand, in solitaire, arm and arm or groups; books, top hats, more parasols, it all comes together when you know what you’re looking at. The painting itself hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago. We exit the garden wandering past Cristo Rey High School; decorative brick patterns and stonework surrounding the windows are magnificent, then  onto East Town Street to check out the spectacular homes.

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Now we’re on the near east side of Columbus in the Olde Towne East neighborhood; stately homes line the streets, flowering trees are in bloom, let’s take a walk. This is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods; farmhouses once occupied the land, by the 1870’s it transitioned into a subdivision of grand houses built by industrialists, judges, businessmen, lawyers, mayors, governors, you know, the rich and famous of Columbus OH. Back in the day locals nicknamed it the ‘Silk Stocking District’ referring to the residents expensive clothing. By the 1950’s much of the housing was abandoned by the wealthy, palatial homes were divided into apartments, nursing homes or rooming houses; the final blow came with the construction of the highways. Same story, different city. Thanks to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the Neighborhood Association was able to begin preservation efforts of Olde Towne East in the 1970’s.

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Today the area is once again on the rise; gentrification has begun, new businesses are opening, Main Street is a mix of public and private development. They say there are over 50 architectural styles spread out over 1,000 homes. We walk past gorgeous 2 and 3-story homes that have been restored or are in the process of restoration; wrought iron fences, columns, turrets, ornate moldings and trim grace lavish residences. Edwardian, Victorian, Second Empire, Romanesque, Italianate, well, you get the idea. Most are brick some have leaded glass windows, beautiful stonework surrounds windows and doorways. Streetscapes are lovely; lawns are neatly kept, ornamental shrubs and trees fill the landscape, today Tulips are in bloom. Olde Towne East was the subject of a documentary film, Flag Wars, back in 2003; after many hardships it’s wonderful to see the neighborhood return to its former glory.

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Columbus Ohio: A Breath of Spring

22 Apr

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About this time every year Kris and I jump in the car and head about 3 hours south to Columbus Ohio to get a little head start on Spring. You wouldn’t think there would be much of a difference 200 miles south of here, but there is! We head out of town under a perfectly clear blue sky, by the time we reach Columbus the temperature is in the 70’s. Last time we were in town we read about an upcoming exhibit on the 1950’s at the Ohio History Center Museum, this is our first stop.  Of course the first image most people conjure up of the 50’s is poodle skirts, juke boxes and Happy Days-like scenes. The pop culture, music, art, literature and design of that decade defined our country; the influence of that time is still apparent today.

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The exhibit is titled “1950’s Building The American Dream”, to the right a shiny silver Airstream is hooked up to beautiful copper 1957 Chevy Bellaire. Just inside the exhibit a reel mower rests along the fence of a perfectly manicured Astroturf lawn belonging to a  real, full size, completely furnished Lustron home. This is what we came for. After WWII 12 million soldiers returned home, there was a housing shortage, prefab houses were seen as a quick solution to the problem, thus the Lustron home was born, er, manufactured. The steel houses were made like cars in a former aircraft plant in Columbus Ohio. Flatbed trucks would deliver the porcelain enamel-coated steel panels to the concrete foundation the home would sit on. Panels were assembled with nuts and bolts, the whole process took about two weeks. Radiant heating was installed in the ceiling, china cabinets, book cases, cabinets and shelves were built-in. Houses were one-story ranch style, you could choose from three floor plans and four color combos.

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Cardboard cut-outs of the ideal family greet us at the front of the home; dad looks dapper in his overcoat and hat, while mom looks lovely in her matching red coat and hat, holding her baby daughter in one hand and a homemade pie in the other. Just inside the front door we enter the authentically furnished family room; Nat King Cole croons from the nearby record player, period newspapers and magazines rest neatly on an end table, I think my grandmother may have had a jaguar lamp like the one on top of the television set. The house is full of visitors like us, signs encourage us to make ourselves at home; little girls play dress up and walk about wearing hats and dresses from back in the day. A boy about 8 is putting on the old adjustable metal roller skates to give roller skating a whirl. Down the hall we pass a full bathroom complete with tub/shower, every detail has been seen to right down to the Stag after-shave powder.

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The next room belongs to the little boy in the family, the Roy Rodgers inspired curtains and bedspread are awesome. A young boy sits on the floor playing with Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys, they don’t even need batteries. At the end of the hall is the Master Bedroom, I feel like I’ve just walked into my grandmothers bedroom; the vanity is built-in, vintage jewelry, hat boxes and a brush and mirror set are laid out for us to see. Closet doors slide open and closed, one is open to reveal what mom and dad would be wearing. This is a hands-on exhibit, we are welcome to try things on, sit on the furniture and play. In the main living area the dining room table is set for dinner, a cart acts as a portable bar complete with liquor bottles, ice bucket and glasses. The kitchen is a world all its own; magnets hold recipes to the metal walls, cabinets are filled with cool vintage dishes, a single-handle white Frigidaire keeps the food cold, the most interesting appliance is the combination dishwasher—-washing machine. Yes, that’s right folks, with the turn of a dial you can go from washing your dirty clothes to cleaning the dinner dishes! We pass through the laundry room complete with a clothes wringer and ironing board on our way to the backyard. 

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This was the ideal of what every backyard was supposed to look like in 1950; a picnic table and bbq are in the back corner, Jarts and Hula-Hoops encourage family fun and then there’s the hatch leading to the bomb shelter…. Lustron built homes from 1948 until 1950 when the company went bankrupt, a total of 2,498 were built, few remain, which is why it is such a treat to be able to see the real thing in person. We walk through the rest of the exhibit with its examples of life in the 50’s; tricycles, rocking horses, a coke machine, cigarette machine and juke box, have I mentioned aprons were a big thing? One vignette shows what a bride and groom would wear to their wedding along with examples of gifts they would receive. It has been fun traveling back in time.

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Kris drives us over to the German Village neighborhood where we have booked a room for the night through airbnb. This is where we will be spending the rest of our time in Columbus and it is absolutely the most quaint part of the city. Our host has arranged everything for our arrival including a parking permit that allows us to park right by our door, hooray. The house is located on Schiller Park, we are mere steps away from the tranquil setting and within walking distance to restaurants, shops and cafes. Our room is lovely, the home was built in 1814 and retains its historic charm, the fresh roses and chocolates make us feel welcome.

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It’s late and we have yet to have dinner. After freshening up we head out on foot in search of food. We meander down uneven brick streets, leaded glass windows glow with light from within, gas lanterns and lampposts illuminate many of the old-fashioned homes, flowering trees perfume the air. When we reach Mohawk Street we head to The Old Mohawk (naturally).  The building has operated as a tavern since 1933, the current owners have been here since 1977. This is definitely a neighborhood joint, patrons all seem to know one another as well as the staff. The interior is cozy with its brick walls, tin ceilings and horseshoe-shaped bar. First out of the kitchen is an order of corn nuggets: dollops of creamed corn deep-fried and served with house made salsa, I love these! The burger arrives soon after, a half-pound patty topped with sautéed mushrooms, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, served with a side of fries. It doesn’t take long for the food to disappear.

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We step outside to a mild night resembling summer more than spring. Walking through German Village the patio of Lindey’s is still lively; patio tables are lit by candles, a fountain trickles in the distance, cocktails anyone? Crossing through the patio gate we take a table fountainside, cocktail menus are delivered along with glasses of ice water. I sip on a chocolate martini, Kris savors his Old Fashioned, it’s 10 pm on a Friday night in April and we’re sitting outdoors having drinks, life is good.

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COLUMBUS, OHIO: German Village

29 Apr

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We are in the lovely, historic German Village neighborhood just south of downtown Columbus Ohio. Spring has already sprung, the temperature today is supposed to reach the low 80’s, luring us outdoors, on foot, through neighborhood streets. The first order of business is breakfast, there is a wonderful mix of small businesses nestled among charming homes in this area. Walking down 3rd St we approach a superb little bakery called Pistacia Vera, cute cafe tables are drenched in morning sun, customers sip on coffee and tea while eating fresh-baked pastries. Inside, a tantalizing array of baked goods await us, for me it doesn’t get much better than a buttery, flaky croissant, well, unless you add chocolate, pain au chocolat it is! Now we are ready to continue our expedition.

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The Village, settled by German immigrants, was mainly developed between 1840-1914, with a majority of the structures built in the last quarter of the 19th century. The jewel of the neighborhood is Schiller Park; it is the gathering place, the activity center, a place for festivals, picnics, reunions. This is where folks walk their dog, soak up the sun, take respite from a hectic day, sit by a fountain and read a good book. A sizable bronze statue of Friedrich von Schiller, the famous German poet for which the park was named, stands proudly in the park, some of his quotes are chiseled into the granite promenade near the statue. Today the roughly 23 acres are full of action; dogs race after frisbees, joggers are getting in swim-suit shape, Canada geese and ducks paddle around in the compact lake.

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The Huntington Gardens are coming to life, everything is lush and green. Square in shape, the park is bordered by some of the village’s finest homes. After walking the entire perimeter we take a seat on a bench facing the Umbrella Girl fountain; I think this is my favorite spot. The original Umbrella Girl mysteriously disappeared, Columbus sculptor Joan Wobst is responsible for the statue we see today of a young German girl in a dirndle carrying her shoes and holding an umbrella. Village native Phil Kientz designed the octagonal pond that surrounds her, if you look closely you’ll notice the designs in the sandstone resemble those found in doors and cornices throughout the neighborhood. 

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Not far from the park is Barcelona, a Spanish fusion restaurant with one of the best patios in the city. We have timed our arrival perfectly, we have our choice of tables. The space is perfect. Flower pots are brimming with colorful pansies, leafy ferns bask in the sun, water flows gently into the above ground Koi pond, blue umbrellas shield us from the warmth of the afternoon, perennials are making their return. We sip on glasses of ice water as we check out the Siesta Fiesta menu, feeling famished I think we ordered half of the menu! The plate of crusty bread and dip of olive oil and some kind of sun-dried tomato mixture disappears instantly. The parade of small plates begins. Patatas Bravas, delicious chunks of twice fried potatoes, garlic aioli and spicy tomato sauce, next, a perfectly ripe avocado stuffed with goat cheese served with a handful of mixed greens, a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette is drizzled over top of everything, then the chilled spiced peach soup, if you like peaches, you’ll love it. Then there’s the Costillas, braised beef short ribs in a Spanish blue cheese mushroom sauce a little green olive aioli and fried leeks, the meat just falls apart—- had to get more bread to soak up the amazing sauce; did I mention the Sangria…… The meal was outstanding, the atmosphere delightful, the service excellent.

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Time to walk. When we come to German Village we just wander, today tulips and daffodils are in full bloom, giant bumble bees gather by the dozens in weeping cherry blossoms. Homeowners have been busy filling urns and window boxes with pansies, violas and Gerbera Daisies. Each house is unique from the wrought iron gates to the stained glass windows. There’s a strong sense of community in the Village, residents walk down the street stopping to admire a neighbor’s yard, greetings are exchanged, compliments given. Die-hard gardeners work diligently creating manicured lawns and picture perfect landscapes; in one yard there’s a statue of a woman tending her lupines, it’s quite beautiful. Roots of mature trees have had their way with brick-paved sidewalks, it’s a good idea to glance down from time to time. This is a designated historic district, the facades of houses have changed little in the last 100 years, isn’t that wonderful?

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Jeni’s German Village is a walk-up ice cream shop consisting of a blackboard menu, take-out window and a smattering of colorful patio tables and chairs. With the old brick building as a backdrop, a string of white lights, and the tree-lined street, this sidewalk shop exudes a charm. Kris reads the list of today’s flavors, he smiles when his eyes reach Brambleberry Crisp. With cone in hand we continue our stroll. Like so many other cities or neighborhoods German Village has seen it’s share of hard times; two wars of anti-German sentiment forced changes to street names, they even changed the name of the park for a while, eventually reclaiming the name Schiller Park. This area was home to as many as seven breweries, then came prohibition, the district eventually fell into decline. In 1960 the German Village Society was formed, things started to change; homes were renovated, businesses moved in, they say it is the largest privately funded restoration in the US. It is truly the premier place to live in Columbus.

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Our time in the city is running short; we have walked for hours having seen quaint red-brick cottages, grand homes, marvelous displays of tulips. It seems every other person we pass has a four-legged companion; I have enjoyed my encounters with friendly pooches happy to get a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. Walking in the direction of the Jeep I see the words Chocolate and Coffee on a storefront window, our pace picks up a little. Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffees has been making fine chocolates and candy in the German tradition for 5 generations. Approaching the door a cream-colored canine is napping on the concrete, maybe he needs a shot of espresso. The shop is aromatic, a blend of fresh ground coffee and chocolate, kinda like heaven…. We are pleased to find they have cold-brewed coffee, it’s one of the best we’ve had anywhere. Now for something chocolate, the glass case has rows of amazing looking treats, shelves display boxes and bags of milk and dark varieties, but it’s the dark chocolate Oreo that calls my name.

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Contented, we head north via the scenic route. The drive is an integral part of the get-away; Kris has refined the route over the years into a pleasant 2-lane trip through farm country and tiny towns. It has been a great couple of days, though we’ve only traveled a couple of hundred miles, it feels as if we have been somewhere far away. 

Roadtrip: Historical Columbus, Ohio

6 Aug

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Morning has arrived, our list of activities is long; we dress, eat a delicious breakfast and head out the door. We drive directly over to The Ohio Statehouse located downtown on High Street, this Greek Revival building was completed in 1861 and has served as Ohio’s Capitol building ever since. State flags of Ohio wave atop flagpoles that line the walkways, large urns are crowded with tall grasses and annuals in bloom, the white limestone building looms ahead, a fountain trickles nearby, the scene is picturesque. The mercury is rising quickly, the air-conditioned interior provides immediate comfort. Our visit begins at the Statehouse Museum, the area is large; constructed of block and mortar the series of arches create a tunnel-like feeling; the arches themselves function to support the weight of the rotunda. Displays are made up of artifacts and images that tell us the history of the building and those responsible for its design and construction, along with those who have served here.

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Up the stairs we enter the Rotunda; the dome rises 120 feet above the marble floor, a single skylight bearing the Great Seal of the State of Ohio is lit up by the sun. There’s so much to take in, my eyes are transfixed by the pastel colored dome for the first few minutes. My gaze travels downward, walls are peach-colored, elaborate brass sconces resemble leaves, light glows from glass shades. Giant oil paintings grace the walls, each representing an important piece of the state’s history. Woodwork is minimal, stained dark and quite lovely. Huge stone archways lead to other sections of the building. The floor itself is a work of art, comprised of 4,957 pieces of marble, the starburst pattern in the center is the real attention-getter; there are 32 points, one for each state in the Union at the time the floor was laid. We amble the hallways, stopping in at rooms and galleries that pay tribute to Ohio’s early legislators; spaces are filled with antique portraits and period furnishings.

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 Voices lead us to the House Chamber. We strain to peek in windows, a fellow tourist points out a tiny elevator to the side gallery, we board without hesitation, the elevator comes to a stop and Kris slides the door open….Wow! From the rear balcony we have an outstanding view of the entire room; colors are muted and light. Architecturally, the room differs from the rest of the building; it is elaborate, ornate, decadent in style. The ceiling is coffered, leaves cast in plaster are three-dimensional, Corinthian columns are rich in detail, lavish chandeliers of brass, wrought iron and frosted glass hang like pendants from the ceiling. Desks date back to 1909 and reside in a semi-circle on rich floral carpet, Abraham Lincoln spoke here in 1861. We move about the room taking it in from all angles. 

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The atrium, built in 1993, connects the original Statehouse to the Senate building, here giant sconces that once weathered the elements  show great patina. We step inside the building and are face to face with the Grand Stair Hall, the double marble staircases are stunning, the ceiling, spectacular. This structure was built in 1901 as the judiciary annex, today all Senate offices are located here. For the next few minutes my feet will not move, the wall ahead a series of stacked arches, my stare finally settles on the muraled ceiling, I tip my head back studying the scenes; art, justice, agriculture and manufacturing are all represented, again a single skylight illuminates the space. Kris is busy snapping photos, I call out to him several times asking if he took a picture of this and that, he assures me he did. We ascend the grand staircase, the area is dimly lit by elegant fixtures, doors are locked but a few windows allow us access. After investigating fully, we leave the building and drive to our next destination.

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North of downtown the Ohio History Center Museum and Ohio Village give visitors a glimpse into Ohio’s past. No matter where we travel I like to visit the local history museum, it provides a wonderful connection to the people and community. The building itself has a 1970’s feel about it, large open spaces, lots of concrete and windows, kind of funky. We take the stairs to the plaza level, here we find the permanent White Castle exhibit, yes folks, White Castle began right here in Columbus Ohio in 1921! Glass cabinets  display photos of employees in uniform, advertisements, and the famous cardboard cartons those irresistible, little steamed burgers are served in. Just looking at all that memorabilia makes us hungry. Back on the main level we roam from room to room, beginning in ancient Ohio, traversing centuries to the recent past. Follow The Flag shares stories of the Ohioans who carried battle flags, with actual Civil War battle flags. Centuries of Change takes us from agriculture to the auto industry, we sit in an old wooden trolley and look back at early household items such as furniture, toasters, tv’s and vacuums.

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Just outside the museum doors Ohio Village awaits us; a recreation of a 19th century Ohio village, docents are dressed in period costume and show us what life was like in the 1800’s. Most buildings are made of wood and are simple in style; the furniture maker is also the undertaker, the owner of the general store welcomes us and tells us about the goings-on in town. The dressmakers shop has a lovely selection of material and hats. Homes and hotels are modest, we smiled at the print shop, letterpress has come full circle and is back in vogue. The gravel pathways take us past the school house, church and bank, leading us back to the museum. Time to catch a quick lunch in town then back to the bed and breakfast to freshen up.

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Summer is travel time for the Detroit Derby Girls, we make it a point to catch one out-of-state bout each season, tonight we are cheering on our home team as they take on the Ohio Roller Girls. The bout is taking place at the Ohio Expo Center at the fairgrounds, the round building is retro-cool, red lantern-type lights are scattered about the ceiling, walls are made of glass. We are relieved to find 2 open front-row seats, decked out in DDG t-shirts we are definitely in the minority. In the first bout Ohio’s Gang Green plays our Motor City Disassembly Line, sadly, our team did not fare well. The second bout started out much better, in the first half it looked as if Detroit’s Fatal Femme, Racer Mc Chaser, Roxanna Hardplace and Ghetto Barbie would be victors over Ohio’s Pearl Rogi, Kill Basa, Burnadeath and Texas Chainsaw Sasskicker. Alas, the second half did not go as well, Ohio pulled away and claimed the victory- ouch!

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We are having dinner at Shoku in Grandview,another charming Columbus district. Just a few short blocks long, it is home to independent shops, a theater and local sidewalk cafes. It is a perfect summer evening, the temperature has dipped slightly, making it ideal for patio dining. This is one of our go-to restaurants when in Columbus, we don’t need a menu to decide, Fire pot chicken and a couple of sushi rolls. Our selections arrive at the same time, the firepot chicken is lightly breaded, vegetables are crisp, smothered in a light spicy sauce it is delicious, the sushi is fresh and tasty. We linger at our table long enough for our food to settle and make room for dessert;  Jeni’s Splendid Ice ream is right across the street…….

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No visit to Columbus is complete without Jeni’s Ice Cream! The sidewalk up and down the street is crowded with folks indulging in tasty flavors such as Whiskey & Pecan, Riesling Poached Pear, Queen City Cayenne or Kris’s favorite, Brambleberry Crisp. The narrow shop is buzzing with activity, servers are busy answering questions and handing out samples, the line moves quickly. A smile appears on Kris’s face as his waffle cone is handed to him over the counter, I wait patiently as my Black & Tan sundae is prepared, Salted Caramel ice cream, dark chocolate hot fudge, hot caramel and a sprinkling of smoked almonds, love it! A sweet ending to a great day.

Columbus: Art See…

16 Apr

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Our visit to Ohio’s capital city continues with the Columbus Museum of Art. The Neo Classical  building opened in January of 1931, there have been several expansions through the years, the latest, 50,000 sq. ft. that includes a new wing, atrium and cafe. That said, if you’re expecting the DIA, you’ll be disappointed, this museum is not of that stature. The collection includes late 19th and early 20th century American and European modern works of art. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of works by Columbus artists Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Elijah Pierce and George Bellows. Contemporary Art, Folk Art, glass, photography, expressionist works and social commentary art can all be found within its walls. 

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We park in the lot adjacent to the building, it’s nice outside so we take some time to explore the grounds. A new garden courtyard provides seating with a nice view of the surrounding area; sculptures are made of stainless steel and wire, painted steel, aluminum and bronze. I’m not sure why but the tall metal strips in red, white and blue remind me of bacon–I must be hungry. The new wing has a limestone base, the rectangular-shaped gallery space is covered in panels of green-patinated copper with deep-set floor to ceiling windows, very modern looking. We use the north entrance stepping into the natural-light-infused atrium. I can see straight through to the front of the museum, lounge areas look inviting, directly above, 35 glass boats dangle, catching the light. We take the stairs to the second floor, small rooms contain video and projection installations. Large, modern works of art hang on stark white walls, individual wood planks lay side by side, it makes me think of fettuccine (why does everything remind me of food?). ‘Back of Kelly’ is a startling life-like recreation of the back of a man, I like the Nocturne Navigator, the skirt of the dress looks like stars in the night sky.

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The original building remains opulent; fancy metal grates act as windows, elegant light fixtures hang from decoratively painted ceilings. Dale Chihuly’s glass art always commands attention. Here the walls are soft colors; vanilla, lavender, blue. Wood floors creak beneath our feet, we traverse long halls, duck in and out of galleries viewing pieces by Charles Demuth, Francis Criss, Clarence Holbrook Carter, Niles Spencer and Norman Rockwell’s Morning After The Wedding. A giant sunflower under glass glows in the center of a gallery, it’s beautiful. We are delighted by the works of Renoir, Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Degas, Juan Gris and Diego Rivera. Some spaces have seating, allowing you to relax and really absorb the art. In the hall terrazzo floors gleam, different kinds of glass are displayed in cubicles.

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On the bottom floor there’s a whole section designed to get visitors creatively involved. A black wall is covered in art made from Post-it notes, it’s amazing what some people have made from sticky squares of paper. The Wonder Room is awesome; duck under draped pieces of cloth to a burgundy-painted room with a blanket fort, a giant spider web made from vintage textiles complete with super-sized bugs and a fashion station where you can create garments for a dress form. It’s a pretty cool space, great works of art hang on the walls as inspiration, tables are filled with materials for you to create your own great work of art, kids and adults seem to be enjoying the experience equally.We find ourselves at the original entrance, to me this is the prettiest part, architecturally speaking. The ceiling is amazing; blue, cream, yellow, green and gold all working together to create lovely patterns. The chandelier hangs from a central panel, potted palms sprout from urns, marble steps, brass railings and archways  foreshadow the treasures on display inside.

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 We’re headed over to a warehouse called 400 West Rich in Franklinton; Heather at the Terra Art Gallery  in Dublin recommended we check it out. Franklinton was the first American settlement in Franklin County, founded in 1797, it was annexed to the city of Columbus in 1870. Much of the land lies below the level of the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers, floods have taken their toll through the centuries. With a new flood wall in place the area is no longer considered a floodplain, making this district just west of downtown ripe for redevelopment.  400 West Rich resides in a warehouse built in 1910 by D.A. Ebinger Sanitary Manufacturing Company, this sanitary porcelain manufacturer invented the public drinking fountain as we know it. EBCO left the building in the 1950’s, a series of interesting tenants followed; Sweden Freezer, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Eickholt Glass. Today it’s a combination of artists studios, galleries and Strongwater Food and Spirits; let’s go in. A grin creeps across my face when we step inside, this was the lobby the EBCO warehouse, the terrazzo floor is spectacular, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an intricate pattern before. The furniture is pure mid-century, love the colors. Look at the old receptionist’s desk, how about that rotary phone? Up a few steps we are in the bar and dining space, they’ve even turned former offices into little dining rooms. 

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We chat with our server about the building, Franklinton and Columbus in general, he points out the mural of Grace Darling, she was a media celebrity in 1838. She and her father were responsible for rescuing shipwrecked sailors from the SS Forfarshire. With a little help from our server we make our selections and in no time lunch is served; everything looks delicious. The Farro salad is excellent, the grain is tender, radishes and cukes are crisp, peas, sweet drop peppers and sprouts add sweetness, the soy sauce vinaigrette adds the perfect amount of saltiness. The Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich stacks pickles, arugula, red hot aiolo on top of a spicy chicken breast all held together with a brioche bun. It has a nice kick and excellent flavor, the red hot is not the overwhelming flavor. Before we leave we take a peek at the event spaces, the original sawtooth windows are now used in the ceiling. Original birch wood has been repurposed into tables and the bar. Here and there leftover machinery, tools and bolts lurk about. What a great way to re-use and old warehouse.

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As we drive around the district a little we see a sign for Glass Axis, oh good, they’re open. The building is another left-over from like 1902, it’s now used as a glass-making facility. The non-profit allows the public access to well-equipped studios for all forms of glass art including stained and fused glass, torch and hot glass blowing and sculpting and neon art. They offer hands-on classes, demonstrations, public programs and even event space. A student removes his rod from the furnace, we watch in fascination as he gently blows into one end and a glass piece begins to take form at the other end. It’s really warm standing by the furnace, at least 6 other rods are warming up. We walk past bowls of glass chips, kilns, huge gloves work tables and a variety of other glass-related tools and equipment. At the back we wander into the gallery, shelves and pedestals hold glass in a variety of colors and forms. Vases, bowls, garden stakes and unique light boxes capture our attention; many of the items are for sale. I’m glad we were able to stop in. I imagine the next time we visit there will be a dozen new businesses here in Franklinton. Time to bid Columbus farewell; thanks, it’s been fun!

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Heading to Columbus

5 Apr

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Our annual search for Spring leads us to a quick jaunt to Columbus Ohio on Easter weekend. In just over 3 hours we can be looking at Daffodils, Tulips, Magnolias and flowering Pear trees. We can stroll the streets of German Village, maybe have a coffee while sitting at a cafe table or park bench. Then again, you never know what Mother Nature has in store. We’re taking our usual, scenic, route 257 along the shores of the Scioto river. Arriving in Dublin we make a quick stop at Hayden Falls before lunch. We park in the small lot on the side of Hayden Run Rd. A stairway leads us down to the river, the current moves rapidly, the 35′ waterfall stands at the end of a boardwalk straddling the Scioto River.  The trees surrounding the river are still bare, bright green moss clings to the limestone. The closer we get to the falls the thicker the mist, the wooden walkway is wet, the sound of the waterfall roars in the wind. Kris puts up his hood and stands at the end of the boardwalk, water rushes over the cliff’s edge, crashing into the river below. The river has swelled from all of the rain, making the waterfall even more dramatic. The boardwalk is popular; we encounter those out for daily exercise, visitors taking photos and locals just hanging out.

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Dublin has a quaint, historic downtown filled with independent shops, restaurants and boutiques. We park on N High Street and walk a little while we decide where to have lunch. I love the stone walls and old architecture, look, Daffodils are blooming. Harvest Pizzeria comes highly recommended so we’re giving it a try. The lunch rush is over so we practically have the place to ourselves. A friendly waitress gets us our drinks and tells us about the daily specials. Harvest is regional to Ohio, they source their ingredients from local farms and businesses. The place is attractive; lots of wood, strong colors and bright artwork. We’re having the pizza and salad special. We choose the Mean Green Salad; spinach, arugula, watercress, red and napa cabbage, snow peas, sprout blend, toasted pepitas, pickled blueberries with an avocado goddess dressing, it’s super flavorful and fresh. The Spicy Yuma Pizza has a blend of 4 cheeses, chipotle-spiked tomato sauce, roasted red peppers, chorizo, jalapeno, corn and cilantro; look how pretty it is. It tastes delicious; spicy but not overdone, I love the crust, thin, crispy and chewy at the same time, good choice!

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We follow the Scioto River all the way from Dublin to Columbus, it’s a lovely drive. We park on Broad St, the river on one side, the LeVeque Tower on the other. Last time we were here the building was undergoing renovations, we’re anxious to see how it looks. A little building history: Originally named the American Insurance Union Citadel the 47-story skyscraper was completed in 1927; it was the tallest building in the city until 1974, today it is the second tallest.

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You may recognize the name of the architect, Detroit’s own C. Howard Crane, think the Fox, Fillmore, Detroit Opera House, Orchestra Hall… LeVeque Tower was his tallest building. The cream-colored terracotta is decorated with figures along the facade and pinnacle, it has an octagonal bartizan at the top, making it the most recognized building in the city. It was designed with 600 hotel rooms in 2 wings and is attached to the Palace Theatre. The name has changed several times through the years, in 1977 it became the LeVeque Tower. The most recent renovation was completed in 2017, it’s currently a mixed use development of apartments, condos, offices, a restaurant and a Marriott Autograph Collection 150-room hotel.

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We enter the Art Deco structure through the revolving door, we are greeted by hand-painted Byzantine-style designs on the ceiling and walls. As we move further inside the hallway opens up into a lounge area. The original building features are combined with a celestial-inspired theme; I really like the funky light fixtures. Making our way to the second floor we have an open view of the lobby area, it’s gorgeous. Cream-colored columns are grounded in black and burgundy marble, there are touches of gold throughout the decor. To one side is The Keep, a modern French Brasserie-styled restaurant and bar. Rat Pack style music plays in the background, low light, brown leather chairs and rustic sconces give the dining area a clubby, masculine feel. The restaurant opened about a year ago to rave reviews, it was voted one of Columbus’s Top New Restaurants of 2017. Next time we’re in town we’ll have to stop back in. 

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The Columbus Metropolitan Library has been in this exact spot on Grant Ave since 1907. The building was constructed with money donated by Andrew Carnegie. In Ohio alone 104 libraries were built from 79 grants awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York from 1899-1915; that’s amazing! The Italian Renaissance building faces a newly renovated plaza, the fountain anxiously awaits warmer temperatures. It’s bright inside, among all of the white my eyes are drawn to a series of spheres hanging from the ceiling. Standing still for a moment I am able to take in the space. Though there has been much modernization, most of the original architecture remains. The sloping, sweeping staircases are wonderful; metal balusters topped with wooden handrails. Light pours in through tall rectangular windows, wide-veined green marble, thick moldings and a spectacular floor. Long halls have barrel-vaulted ceilings, white rosettes cling to a teal-colored background. A series of colorful stained-glass skylights allow more light to seep in.

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We come to the huge addition put on in 1991, a vast open space bringing the square footage to 255,400. From the main floor we can see the corridors that surround the second and third level; I love that they left the back wall of the original building. It’s all very open and light, lots of glass and metal. The 2016 renovation opened up the interior by adding windows that run the height from the second to third floor giving visitors a sweeping view of the adjacent Topiary Park. A multi-hued canvas print depicts Columbus back when rail yards and train tracks criss-crossed the city, the LeVeque Tower stands prominently, its image reflected in the Scioto River. We make frequent stops at the windows, looking out on the city skyline. A lot has changed since that print was made, but the capital city still remains a vibrant, beautiful, active place to live, work and play. 

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Ohio: For Your Viewing Pleasure…

2 Aug

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We are rested up and ready to begin our second day in Dublin with some natural beauty. This area of Ohio is home to ravines, steep cliffs and numerous tributaries of the Scioto River; elevations range from 780′ above sea level where we are, to a high point of 1,000 ft at Glacier Ridge Metro Park. The car is parked in the small lot at Indian Run Falls; we head out on a dirt trail that runs along Indian Run Gorge, wooden steps lead to a boardwalk, then back to a dirt path, up, down, around curves, we follow other visitors down to a shallow spot in the river. We have an up-close view of water that cascades beautifully over rugged limestone, I love the sound of the water as it rejoins the river. Families traverse the rocky riverbed, children splash, grown men test their balance as they straddle the rocks. 

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We climb back up to the trail and continue to follow the rim of the ravine; water moves swiftly, trees cling to the shoreline, exposed roots grip jagged limestone. There are overlooks and places to sit with a panoramic view. The habitat here is unique to the gorge, some rare plants can only be found on the west shore of the river, many species of birds live here too. The sound of water grows louder, we look out over the waterfall and gorge below. A group of girls have attracted a bit of an audience as they stand on the edge of the falls, one at a time they take a deep breath and leap into the deep pool; I’m too chicken to do it myself but it sure looks like fun! We re-trace our steps, it’s nice and cool in the shade. I feel far removed from the city; here in the park it’s hard to remember you’re right between Dublin and Columbus.

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Who wants ice cream? I do! In a few short minutes we are back in historic Dublin, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream has a shop on Bridge Street, let’s go. Kris and I have been eating Jeni’s ice cream for many, many years. Our first scoop came from North Market in Columbus when Jeni herself was behind the counter scooping ice cream. Her exceptional quality, unique flavors and friendly employees continue to draw us in. Taste as many flavors as you like, seriously, they actually encourage it. Kris is in luck, they have his long-time favorite Brambleberry Crisp, a generous scoop fills the waffle cone. For me it’s a scoop of Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks, a triangular piece of waffle cone decorates the top. DELICIOUS. So creamy, so flavorful; this is why we love Jeni’s. 

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Our time is running short, we have one more stop to make before heading north. Tucked away in Hilliard Ohio is the Early Television Museum. This non-profit institution is dedicated to the preservation of early television technology. Housed in a 4,200 sq. ft. building they have over 150 TV sets on display, this is one of those super-cool, must-see, off-the-beaten-path places; put in on your list of things-to-do-in-Ohio. The nondescript exterior provides no clue to the awesomeness awaiting inside. Displays begin at the beginning of television, those very early days of mechanical TV’s from the 1920’s and 30’s. There is a great deal of technical information posted on the walls–most of it goes right over my head, I read it anyways, fascinated by the idea of it all. The first television sets developed by John Logie Baird in England and Charles Jenkins in the US were mechanical, this was in the 1920’s, at that time TV screens were only an inch or so wide with poor picture quality. By 1930 television was being broadcast from over a dozen stations in the US, at that time manufacturers started selling TV sets and kits you could assemble yourself.

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In those days everything was about beauty, just look at these early TV’s, the consoles are large, made of fine wood with beautiful finishes, they were equal to the quality of your other home furnishings. Screens were teeny tiny in the beginning, some sets opened from the top, a mirror mounted to the underside of the lid reflected the image from the TV screen. In the early days radios and TV’s were combined into one unit, some even came with a phonograph providing a total entertainment system! Look at these beautiful consoles with their gauges, dials, buttons. The Art Deco style was big in early TV design, I love the streamlined shape and designs. Placards often include terms such as lamps, bulbs and tubes, words we don’t associate with televisions in 2017. Early manufacturers include Murphy, Mercier, Baird, hey, there’s the little dog with the gramophone, it must be an RCA. Visitors can operate some of the pre-war, post-war and early color sets using push buttons throughout the museum. We try a couple out, we are so spoiled by today’s technology, these screens are so small, the picture quality is poor, but in its day it was spectacular.

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The collection includes televisions from the 20’s and 30’s, British sets, pre 1945 American sets, post-war sets and early color sets from 1953-57–many in working condition. We wander from room to room, paneled walls are cloaked in frames containing information on specific brands, sets, advertisements and vintage photographs. Names are more familiar as we move through the years: Zenith, Fisher, GE, Philco, Admiral, Motorola, RCA. There are displays of signal boosters, portable TV’s, picture tubes. There are table-top units and floor consoles with panels that open, slide and tilt. Materials reflect the period they were manufactured. We pore over great advertisements, promotional items, light-up signs and fabulous floor displays–my favorite is the RCA Victor store display. The Sylvania Dualette 17″ TV from 1959 is probably Kris’s favorite; the funky shape, blue and white plastic housing and those legs… awesome.

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I get up close to a large unit to see what it is, in 1964 Seeburg and Emerson came together to make the Telejuke, you guessed it, a 15″ screen TV and jukebox combination to be sold to bars. In those days TV stations objected to “pay TV ” which probably halted the production of them, very few were sold, it’s quite a thing to see… We recognize more of the brands and styles as we progress through time, I have to admit, I’ve never seen anything like the 1969 AT&T MOD II Picturephone. A small section houses foreign TV sets, Kris and I agree the wild, modern set from Germany is the best of the bunch. The last section of the museum is dedicated to early TV studio equipment. You can see your friends as they would have appeared on mechanical TV in 1930, there’s a working 60 line flying spot scanner TV camera, a television transmitter and a cool old TV news truck. There’s a ton of equipment, monitors, cabinets with screens and gauges, very impressive. The Early Television Foundation was founded by Steve McVoy. As a teenager he worked in a television repair shop after school, and sometimes worked on 1940’s sets such as the RCA 630. In 1999 he sold his cable television business, was looking for something to do with his time, and decided to collect early television receivers. As his collection grew, he began to run out of space to display it. He then came up with the idea of starting a museum so he would have a place to put his growing collection and the public could easily view it. We’re so glad he did!

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BTW, the Detroit Derby Girls had a victorious evening!

Dublin Ohio: Looking In

23 Jul

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Today we’re in Dublin Ohio, a suburb of Columbus located near the west bank of the Scioto River. In the 1800’s, early settlers named the village after their birthplace, Dublin Ireland. For many years Dublin was a sleepy little town, it wasn’t until 1987 after reaching a population of 5,000 residents that it was declared a city. Between the construction of I-270 and major corporate headquarters like Wendy’s and Ashland moving in, the city has grown tremendously. If you’re into golf you probably know Dublin as the location of the Memorial Tournament, a regular stop on the PGA Tour. Jack Nicklaus is from Columbus, he designed the course at The Country Club of Muirfield Village. We’re in the quaint little downtown, “old Dublin”, where Bridge and High Street were once filled with bars and pubs, there was even a stagecoach stop in town. Let’s take a stroll.

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Brick-lined sidewalks take us past 200-year-old buildings standing on tree-lined streets; green plaques identify buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The architecture is early 19th century, houses are wood-sided and painted in pastel shades of yellow, blue, green, burgundy and white. A tiny stone cottage has red-trimmed windows that match the Geraniums sprouting from window boxes. Hydrangeas are in full bloom, branches sag with the weight of the flowers. It’s the first weekend in July, American flags wave in the breeze, red, white and blue pinwheels are spinning. Stone fences with wrought iron gates stand guard in front elegant homes, sweet potato vines spill from pots crowded with Petunias, Daisies, Begonia and Marigolds.

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Cozy shops are integrated into the neighborhood, Chelsea Borough Home is filled with home goods such as furniture, clocks, vases, candles and accessories; it smells good in here too. An Irish flag hangs outside of Ha’penny Bridge, the shop sells imports of Ireland. I admire elegant crystal and china from Belleek, there are lots of shamrocks, pretty plaids, jewelry, scarves and adorable children’s clothing. We grab a couple of cold brew coffees and a few chocolates at Winans. I notice many of the windows in buildings are still original, I can tell by the waviness of the glass. We stop in the French bakery, La Chatelaine, a glass case holds red, white and blue macaroons. At the intersection of Bridge and High streets we find the Daily Chores sculpture, it was inspired by Dublin’s historic town water pump that sat in the middle of the intersection in the early 1900s. City planners are careful to keep the integrity of Dublin, new buildings blend seamlessly with the old.

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All of this walking has made us hungry; at last we settle into a table on the patio at Dublin Village Tavern; it’s a perfect day to eat outdoors. The tavern building was built in 1889, it was originally a hardware store, then it was the Post Office, DVT opened in 2000; the original hand-cut oak studs and beams are still supporting the structure. There’s a picture of George Killian Lett–the grandson of the founder of Killians Brewery in Ireland from his visit to the tavern hanging in the brick room. Shortly after we place our order the Irish Egg Rolls arrive; corned beef, sauerkraut and swiss cheese served up with a side of 1000 Island dressing–they are so good….Next the Fresh Veggie Sandwich; cucumbers, radishes, tomato, alfalfa sprouts, red onion, avocado and arugula held between slices of 12-grain bread; crisp, cool and flavorful it hits the spot on a warm day.

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Dublin is also known for its Art In Public Places program, we’re going to check some of it out now. A short distance down High Street leads us to the place where an old blacksmith shop stood in the late 1800’s. Now there’s a structure made of thick green and yellow metal wires criss-crossing to form walls and a roof. It was designed to conjure up a memory of George M Karrer’s workshop. Field of Corn (With Osage Oranges) is next. 109 human-sized cement ears of corn stand on property that was once farmed by Sam Frantz. Walking around I notice a distinct row pattern as if I was actually looking at a corn field. The detail is pretty amazing, rows of niblets tucked tightly into the cob, some pieces are decorated with strips of material or random items. The sculpture symbolizes the history of the community’s farming legacy and is a memorial to the rural landscape.

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We drive over to Ballantrae Park, a master planned park and residential golf community. At the entrance to the subdivision we are greeted by Dancing Hares, a 15′ tall trio of dancing bunnies perched atop a 20′ tall hillock.  Dancing Hares was commissioned in 2001 by Edwards Golf Communities as the whimsical centerpiece for Ballantrae’s entry park. We climb the steep grassy hill to get a closer look, the artist has combined everyday items into the sculpture; I see coins, a light bulb, comb, wrench, miscellaneous hardware. It reminds me of those pictures in the Highlights magazine where you have to find the hidden objects. At the base of the hill is an interactive play fountain, in the afternoon heat it’s the place to be. It’s fun to watch the little ones marvel at the spouts of water shooting up from the ground–the parents look like they’re having a good time as well.

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Time to head to our hotel room. We have a little time to rest before heading to the Ohio Expo Center, tonight the Detroit Roller Derby All Stars are playing the Ohio Roller Girls, it should be a good match-up. I’ll let you know how it turns out…

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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