The “Sounds of Summer” Included Plenty of Fun Facts

No day is complete without learning a fun fact. During the Westerville Symphony Orchestra’s recent “Sounds of Summer” concert at Alum Creek Park, conductor Peter Stafford Wilson shared several fun facts with the audience and musicians alike.

Did you know that Emmanuel Chabrier, the French composer of Joyeuse marche, was friendly with Claude Monet and Édouard Manet? He also collected paintings by other Impressionist artists, including Paul Cézanne and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

It’s always a thrill to hear the ethereal strains of Josef Strauss’s Music of the Spheres (Sphärenklänge) and Thunder and Lightning Polka (Unter Donner und Blitz), that wonderful Johann Strauss composition in which timpani rolls and cymbal crashes evoke stormy sounds. But I nPeter Stafford Wilson and the Westerville Symphony Orchestraever imagined that the Viennese apartment where The Blue Danube (An der schönen blauen Donau) was written is now home to a McDonald’s.

One of the four dances Aaron Copland composed for Rodeo was used as the background theme for the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” advertising campaign in the 1990s. But I didn’t realize that Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein attended the ballet’s 22-curtain call premier in 1942 and immediately signed up its choreographer, Agnes de Mille, to contribute her talents to their musical, Oklahoma.

Igor Stravinsky was a young, virtually unknown composer when Sergei Diaghilev recruited him to create The Firebird, a work based on a Russian folk tale, for the Ballet Russes. That’s a fun fact that escaped me during my days at Miami University’s Walter Havighurst Special Collections, when I showed Russian history students books about Diaghilev from the 2,000-volume André L. de Saint-Rat Collection of Russian History, Literature and Art. Another popular book I shared was The Firebird and Other Russian Fairy Tales (illustrated by Boris Zvorykin and edited, with an introduction, by Jacqueline Onassis), one of over 10,000 children’s books, toys and games, and magazines comprising the library’s Edgar and Faith King Juvenile Literature Collection.

Tune in to Classical 101 tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 p.m. for Music in Mid-Ohio.  You might hear more fun facts during a broadcast recording of a recent Westerville Symphony Orchestra concert. 

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Cool Off With Leprechauns and Mad March Hares at Dublin’s Ballantrae Community Park

To survey the beautiful landscape from the summit of the Hill of Tara, revel in the tranquil atmosphere of Glendalough or walk the pebbled paths of Powerscourt’s elegant gardens, you have to fly to Dublin, Ireland. But to see an ingenious tribute to the Irish countryside, all you need to do is drive to Ballantrae in Dublin, Ohio.

Ballantrae is a residential planned community with over 1,000 home sites, an 18-hole resort-style golf course and a 640-acre pastoral landscape of fields, lakes, hills, hand-stacked rubble stone walls and ruins. Ballantrae Community Park is one of its many public and neighborhood greenspaces.

Ballantrae Community Park

Dancing Hares, Sophie Ryder’s 14-foot-tall bronze sculpture, tops a hill overlooking a lawn dotted by boulders. The sculpture recalls how mad March hares stand on their hind legs and box each other during their breeding season.

Dancing Hares, Ballantrae Community Park

The English artist is known for embedding everyday household objects in her work. Look closely and you’ll find things like toy bears, decorative hair combs, Schweppes bottle openers, and Irish coins with their iconic image of Brian Boru’s harp nestled in the rabbits’ feet.

Detail of Dancing Hares, Ballantrae Community Park

A 125-foot-long curved concrete stone grotto wall built into the hillside below provides the backdrop for a whimsical interactive water feature that’s popular with children. Fountains shoot from the ground of the plaza. Jet sprays change pattern and heights. A cascading waterfall is perfect for cooling off on a hot day.

Ballantrae Community Park

Students from the Columbus College of Art and Design developed, sketched and created sculptures of six different leprechaun faces that are embedded in the grotto wall. Water spews from holes in the leprechauns’ mouths.

Ballantrae Community Park

The spray fountains at Ballantrae Community Park — located at 6350 Woerner Temple Road — are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. through September 1, 2014.

Ballantrae Community Park

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What Does Inniswood Have In Common With “The Little Brick Church at the Bend of the Road?”

In the North Linden neighborhood of Columbus, you’ll see a church near the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and Huy Road that’s worth a closer look.

McKendree United Methodist Church dates to 1820, when Henry Innis opened his Clinton Township home to local Methodists for worship. In 1832, Innis founded McKendree Methodist Church, naming it for Bishop William McKendree (1757-1835), a Methodist leader who traveled the country preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. By 1849, the congregation had built a small white frame church with three rows of seats, where men sat on one side and women on the other. A cemetery behind the church provided a final resting place for some of its McKendree Methodist Churchmembers.

By 1890, the congregation had outgrown its church, so it raised funds for building a new brick structure on the same site. Ladies of the church’s “Helping Band” made and sold quilt blocks embroidered with the names of buyers. President Benjamin Harrison bought the center quilt block; Ohio Governor James E. Campbell purchased a neighboring square. Another women’s group known as the “Gleaning Band” raised funds for the church’s needs, such as sending flowers to the sick and supplying food and clothing to those in need. The McKendree Gleaners, a Sunday school class, organized musical programs, plays and lectures, using the proceeds to pay for hardwood floors and other improvements to the church.

In 1955, the congregation built an additional building just south of the church for Sunday school and social events. This semi-Gothic structure with an artistic stone entrance provided seats for 500 people in the nave and could accoMcKendree Methodist Churchmmodate another 100 in the balcony. Russell Heizer, son of a former minister of the church, designed its symbolic stained-glass windows. Another special feature was a “magic carpet” front door that opened automatically, so that young children and older people wouldn’t have to struggle with opening heavy outer doors.

Church ministers and members alike contributed to this close-knit community of faith. Rev. John J. McCabe wrote McKendree, a poem that was printed on cards with a picture of the church on the front. The church used the first line of the poem — “Oh, little brick church at the bend of the road” — as its caption for many years. “The McKendree Hymn” was written by Rev. Wilbur Vorhis during his tenure as minister from 1971 to 1973; it was sung to the tune of “Come Thou, Almighty King.”

McKendree Methodist ChurchDuring World War II, a newsletter titled The McKendree Home Front kept church members who were in the service informed about church activities. The church also awarded Bibles to elementary school students, hymnals to young people who had completed the requirements for their confirmation classes, and books of worship to high school graduates. The Margaret Huffman Memorial Library was established in the 1960s. Christmas candlelight dinner parties and scouting and youth group activities were other examples of the fellowship that church members enjoyed.

Innis family monument, McKendree Methodist Church cemeteryHenry Innis’s eight children and their descendants were all loyal supporters of the church. A pin oak tree from the Innis family’s homestead at 25th and Cleveland Avenues was planted on the church grounds. Mary (Mrs. William) Innis gave its Möhler pipe organ. Henry’s grandson, Lew Innis, kept the church open during the Depression by purchasing coal for heat and paying the staff. His daughters, Grace and Mary Innis, were especially loyal church members. Mary was superintendent of the church nursery, caring for babies so that their mothers could attend Sunday morning church services, while Grace joined a group from the church on a trip to Jerusalem when she was in her 70s. Grace gave a 25-bell, two-octave Flemish carillon with harp, celeste bells and an automatic roll player with 48 selections, which was installed in 1971 in memory of her sister. The evening before Grace fell ill before passing away in March 1982, she hosted a Home Fellowship meeting for the church in the sisters’ Hempstead Road home in Westerville, now known as Inniswood Metro Gardens. Both sisters remembered the church in their wills.

McKendree United Methodist Church’s congregation ceased weekly wMcKendree Methodist Churchorship at the church in June. Now, the building at 3330 Cleveland Avenue is home to Ebenezer United Methodist Church.

To learn more about the history of McKendree United Methodist Church, see The McKendree Story: 125 Years of History of the McKendree Methodist Church, 3330 Cleveland Avenue, Columbus, Ohio: 1832-1957. A second volume that was published for the church’s 150th anniversary covers the years from 1957 to 1982.

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What Part of Inniswood Metro Gardens Would Grace and Mary Like?

Whenever I spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon or weekday evening at Inniswood Metro Gardens, I think about my grandmother and how much she enjoyed visiting this lovely place.Inniswood

Located at 940 South Hempstead Road in Westerville, Inniswood was once was the 37-acre estate of Mary and Grace Innis. Their enjoyment of gardening and observing wildlife led them to donate their charming brick home and its tranquil surroundings to Franklin County Metro Parks in 1972. Subsequent land acquisition has made Inniswood a 121-acre nature preserve.

The sisters’ former home is the setting for staff offices, educational programs and art exhibits. Stand on the deck overlooking a thick forest of trees and you’ll spot a miniature garden railroad. When we’re not posing in front of the house I’d like to have as my own, I like browsing the shelves of the non-lending horticultural reference collection in the home’s library.


Two miles of walking trails wind through wooded areas of the park, bridges cross tranquil streams…

and paved pathways lead to landscaped, themed gardens populated with more than 2,000 species of plants. Peaceful shade gardens are complemented by a beautiful trellised rose garden. Walk through wisteria-laden arches to a knot garden, plantings of fragrant herbs, displays of colorful perennials and annuals, a bee garden, gazebos and fountains.


Tall grasses and sunflowers abound in the Plains Garden.  Conifers, ferns and hostas – including one bearing the park’s name — line the park’s walkways.


A rock garden features a cascading waterfall that meanders past alpine and woodland plants. 


To honor the Innis sisters’ memory, Metro Parks opened the 2.8-acre Sisters’ Garden in 2002. Beyond a bronze sculpture of the Innis sisters as girls, children can explore a miniature playhouse, barn, water wheel, windmill and fruit orchard.


Hidden in the surrounding woods, you’ll find a nifty playhouse…

and a scenic overlook of a story maze depicting Earth on Turtle’s Back, a Native American story about creation.


Throughout the year, Inniswood offers artwork displays, naturalist-guided walks, educational programs, musical concerts in the gardens, book discussions and other programs about horticulture and the natural sciences for children and adults. Visit for more information.

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Think of the Westerville Symphony Orchestra for Fantastic Summer Concerts

“Summer Afternoon” may have earned Henry James’ vote for the two most beautiful words in the English language, but I cast my ballot for “Summer Concert” as the two most beautiful synonyms for this delightful season.

I came to that conclusion after attending two concerts to which the Westerville Symphony Orchestra treated the community this month.

On Independence Day, the orchestra gave its “Sounds of Freedom” concert at the Westerville Sports Complex. “Liberty Fanfare,” “Yankee Doodle” and recently released music from Lincoln were on the program, as well as popular patriotic standbys like “Stars and Stripes Forever” and the “Star Spangled Banner.”Westerville Music and Arts Festival

Renditions of stirring summertime music are always great to hear, but the orchestra’s appearance at last Saturday’s Westerville Music and Arts Festival was an extra-special treat. Besides art exhibits, a silent auction and musical entertainment, the festival tempted shoppers with an array of handcrafted items like furniture, brooms, pottery, tinware, and hand-rolled pure beeswax candles and suncatchers with home-grown pressed flowers. Sand art purveyed by local artisans reminded me of one of my favorite scenes in Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books — when Betsy and Tacy dyed sand the color of Easter eggs and put it in fancy glass bottles to sell.

The concert’s lineup of selections struck a resonant chord with the crowd.

Westerville Symphony Orchestra musicians in concert

Besides performing selections from Oklahoma, Can-Can, and West Side Story, the musicians accompanied the evening’s guest artist, Cassie Rea, as she sang Poor Wandering One,” from Pirates of Penzance; “Glitter and Be Gay,” from Candide; “The Light in the Piazza”; and “Think of Me,” from Phantom of the Opera.

Cassie Rea performing with the Westerville Symphony Orchestra

Cassie’s father, Cabot Rea, joined her in an entertaining rendition of “Anything You Can Do” from Annie Get Your Gun. Cabot may be best known in the community as NBC4’s evening co-anchor, but he proved that he’s also a talented vocalist.

Cassie and Cabot Rea performing with the Westerville Symphony Orchestra

The musicians performed in the shade provided by the Everal Barn and Homestead, a notable example of 19th-century farm architecture that is the centerpiece of Westerville’s 52-acre Heritage Park.

Everal Barn, Westerville

The farm belonged to John W. Everal, an early Westerville-area settler who owned a company that produced tiles and bricks. In the early 1870s, Everal built the farm’s homestead, carriage house and other outbuildings from bricks and tiles that were fired in the Everal kiln. During the 1880s, Everal constructed a Carpenter Gothic-style barn with a three-story octagonal tower for his farm. It is topped by a windmill, which drove the pump that drew water from a well below so it could be stored for livestock to drink.  The farm was named Rosedale, after the homestead’s rose garden, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Everal Homestead, Westerville

There’s one more opportunity to enjoy an alfresco concert by the Westerville Symphony Orchestra. Bring your lawn chair to the Alum Creek Park Ampitheater on Sunday, August 10 at 6:30 p.m. for its “Sounds of Summer” concert.


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Take a Closer Look Inside the “Magnificent Old Electric Pleasure Dome” on State Street

If you’re aOhio Theatre CAPA Summer Movie Series regular like me, you’ve heard organist Clark Wilson invite you to “settle back in your seat in the perfumed twilight of this magnificent old Electric Pleasure Dome.” Pretend you’re doing just that as I raise the curtain on today’s feature presentation — a tour of the Ohio Theatre!

Since its opening in 1928, this Downtown Columbus landmark has wowed visitors with its opulent Spanish-Baroque look. Built in the heyday of silent movies, the Ohio Theatre was one of Marcus Loew’s 120 theatres showing movies from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Live touring stage shows also performed on the Ohio’s stage.

The Ohio is the creation of architect Thomas W. Lamb. Of the 200 movie theatres that Lamb designed, 41 are still open, and 15 still show movies. While Lamb focused on the structural details of the $865,000 construction project, interior designer Anne Dornan selected a complementary red, teal and maroon color scheme for furnishings. Treating average people to surroundings as luxurious as a European palace led her to rack up an additional $1 million tab.Ohio Theatre

Several of the Ohio’s features are original, including the ticket booth just outside the front door and the outer lobby’s walls, frames for movie posters, and tile floors, which were kept warm during the winter by an oil-fired burner that’s still there.

Ohio Theatre

The molded plaster ceiling in the outer lobby was designed to look like wood. Three sections of one of the scallop shells in the southeast corner of the ceiling were intentionally not painted, so the theatre would never be finished.  Can you spot what’s unpainted?

Ohio Theatre

In the inner lobby, more original features include a molded plaster ceiling adorned with Dutch metal leaf, gilt paint heraldic symbols, light fixtures, gold-painted cast iron railings, and leaded glass exit signs.

Ohio Theatre

Inside the theatre, the plaster ceiling is adorned with silver and gold painted stars and can be lit with several different colors of lights. An 11’ by 21’ chandelier weighing two and a half tons is bedecked with 350 individual lights; figures of horses were added to make it even fancier. When the chandelier is lowered every few years for cleaning, a quarter with the year’s date is put on the top to indicate when it was cleaned last.

Ohio Theatre

A stage with maple flooring has added neoprene to give dancers and other performers extra bounce. Beside it sits the magnificent Morton Theatre Organ. Installed in 1928 at a cost of $21,000, it was one of four organs built to its design; it is one of 20 theatre organs still in use today. The organ is equipped with 16 sound effects that were designed to accompany silent movies, such as bells, drums, cymbals, castanets, an airplane propeller and the clip-clop of a horse’s hooves. Rolling BB’s in a tray recreate the sound of the surf. Painted faux-marble panels and gold drapes hide the organ’s 2,500 pipes, which range from the size of a little finger to about 16 feet tall.

Morton Theatre Organ, Ohio Theatre

The upstairs lobby features damask-paneled walls and elegant fountains from the Albee Theatre in Cincinnati…Ohio Theatre

while the Arabic or Moorish-style outer lobby of the upper balcony was originally installed with a telephone system that allowed ushers to call downstairs for help, if necessary.

Ohio Theatre

Look past the elegant tapestries and gilded finishes of the ladies’ lounge and you’ll see a mysterious closed door. Behind it was a well-ventilated smoking lounge where ladies could privately indulge in the habit that was still controversial in the 1920s.

Ohio Theatre

The men’s lounge was modeled after a British men’s club, with more molded plaster ceilings designed to look like wood.

Ohio Theatre

The theatre’s original conductor’s stand is fitted with a meter that was used to measure the amount of feet of film going through the reel, to ensure that the orchestra’s accompaniment to the silent movie was perfectly timed.

Ohio Theatre

Downstairs, the lower lounge was originally called the Four Corners of the Earth room. Dornan traveled the world to find appropriate decorations for its man-focused Africa Corner. The carpet design reflects the Chinese-inspired corner that was designed for ladies.Ohio Theatre

When the Ohio was threatened by demolition in the 1960s, central Ohioans raised over $2 million in less than a year to save the historic theatre.  Soon after, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts purchased and renovated the Ohio. The theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Six years later, it became a National Historic Landmark and the official theatre of the state of Ohio.

Ohio TheatreToday, the Ohio is home to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, BalletMet, and The Broadway Series, as well as more than 100 entertainment events each year. Through August 10, visit the Ohio for the 44th season of the CAPA Summer Movie Series, the longest-running classic film series in America. In his 23rd season as featured organist, Clark Wilson begins playing the Morton Theatre Organ 30 minutes prior to each screening, and continues during a 15-minute intermission. He will also accompany this year’s silent film, Girl Shy, on July 17 and 18.

A free, guided tour of the Ohio Theatre — complete with a light show and a demonstration of the Morton Theatre Organ by Clark Wilson — will be held on Saturday, August 2 at 4:00 p.m. Reservations are required. To check availability, send an email to with the number of people in your party.

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From Mary Mac’s Fried Chicken to the Boone Tavern’s Spoonbread, My Taste for Southern Food Glows Like Foxfire

Lunch and dinner are the two highlights of my day, so I relished the opportunity to indulge in some tasty Southern fare during my travels with the Ohio History Connection in Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky.

At 212 Market in downtown Chattanooga, I tucked into tomato lentil soup, pan-roasted chicken with asparagus and carrot risotto, homemade bread, raspberry chocolate cake and other foods from local farms and suppliers.

After I feasted on a sumptuous buffet dinner at the Conservatory at Waterstone in Acworth, Georgia, pianist Briana Duensing (also known as “Bonnie Blue Briana”) played Civil War tunes like “The Girl I Left Behind,” “The Sword of Robert E. Lee,” The Vacant Chair and “Marching Through Georgia.”

At Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Midtown Atlanta, which has been serving classic Southern food since 1945, I worked my way through an amazing buffet lunch of the crispiest, juiciest fried chicken I’ve ever tasted, macaroni and cheese, oven-roasted turkey and cornbread dressing, whipped potatoes, steamed vegetables, cinnamon rolls, Georgia peach cobbler and iced tea (“The Table Wine of the South”). Check out Mary Mac’s Tea Room: 65 Years of Recipes from Atlanta’s Favorite Dining Room by John Ferrell and you’ll see why I could hardly get up from the table.

Southern lunch at Mary Mac's Tea Room

In the café at Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley, Georgia, I put away homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, dinner rolls and peach cobbler. Then, I took a farm tour of the family business that has planted 3,000 acres of peach orchards, 3,000 acres of pecan groves, a six-acre strawberry patch, and rows of raspberries since 1908. Before I left, I chose pecans and luscious scarlet red-and-yellow Ruby Prince peaches from the roadside market to take home and give as a souvenir.

Georgia peach cobbler at Lane Southern Orchards

Before I packed my suitcase for home, I twirled homemade spaghetti around my fork and sopped up hearty tomato sauce with the tastiest breadsticks at DaVinci’s Pizzeria in downtown Atlanta.

But most of all, I looked forward to the last meal of my Civil War bus tour — lunch at the Boone Tavern in Berea, Kentucky.

Boone Tavern, Berea, Kentucky

In 1907, the Boone Tavern was built to accommodate visitors to Berea College, a unique educational institution where students do not pay tuition, but are required to work on campus at least 10 hours a week to earn money for books, room and board. Many of the students learn traditional arts and crafts, such as woodcarving, furniture-making and weaving. Profits from the sale of their handcrafted creations provide for student scholarships. In the hotel’s gift shop, as well as online, you can purchase lovely things like whisk brooms made of natural broomcorn; woven placemats, throws and rugs; baskets; and wooden Shaker cooling racks, rolling pins and oven rack pulls. During Berea’s Festival of Learnshops — taking place July 11-27, 2014 — you can spend two hours to five days taking workshops on how to make woodturned weed pots and candleholders, corn shuck dolls, Shaker wooden boxes and more.

Whisk broom made at Berea College

Today, the Boone Tavern is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It features a 63-room hotel for guests, as well as a restaurant that serves traditional Southern dishes.Boone Tavern, Berea, Kentucky

After we sat down at tables made by students from wood that came from an 8,000-acre forest owned by the college, we were served Southern spoonbread, mixed greens with orange marmalade salad dressing, our choice of roast beef or chicken salad sandwiches, and Race Day pie, a rich concoction studded with pecans and chocolate chips.

Many of the items on the Boone Tavern’s menu are made from the recipes of Richard T. Hougen, the manager of the hotel for more than 35 years. Hougen collected his most popular recipes in two cookbooks: Look No Furtherand More Hougen Favorites. Here, you’ll find directions for making Boone Tavern standards like Chicken Flakes in a Bird’s Nest and Pork Chops Some Tricky Way, as well as intriguing dishes like Black Look No Further, by Richard HougenForest coffee cake, cranberry biscuits, rhubarb nectar punch, a Kentucky blackberry dumpling with milk dip, and a Huckleberry Finn pie made from blackberries and blueberries. You can also find some of his recipes here.

Berea College’s stellar crafts and cooking were old news to me, but during this visit, I learned that it also offers teachers the opportunity to learn about the Foxfire method of classroom instruction. Students make decisions about how they learn required material, use their community as a learning resource, and share their work with others outside of the classroom. Better yet, I also discovered how that philosophy led to a fascinating series of books by the same name.

In 1966, Eliot Wigginton, an English teacher in Rabun County, Georgia, decided to make his subject more interesting by inviting his students to produce a magazine that would preserve the cultural traditions of their rural Southern Appalachian community while developing their writing skills. They chose to call it Foxfire, after a glow-in-the-dark fungus found on decaying wood in the shady surrounding forests. Ever since, students have been turning oral history interviews with their families and neighbors into engaging articles.

The Foxfire Magazine is available by subscription. You can also find anthology collections of its content in the Foxfire series of books.

On these pages, you can pick up step-by-step instructions for pursuits like building a log cabin; beekeeping; crafting cornshuck dolls; making musical instruments like banjos, dulcimers and fiddles; blacksmithing; and square dancing. The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery not only offers guidance on cooking on fireplaces and wood stoves, but also provides recipes for traditional Appalachian favorites like sassafras tea, molasses candy, watermelon preserves and apple butter.

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