Tag Archives: Scioto River

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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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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