Start Exploring Franklinton On The West Bank Of The Scioto River

“Go west, young lady,” I thought, as a warm, windy walk took me toward the Scioto River.

Horace Greeley might have been thinking about America’s westward expansion, but my Manifest Destiny involves exploring the home of Phillip’s Original Coney Island, the original Burger Boy Food-O-Rama and the headquarters of General William Henry Harrison during the War of 1812, all waiting for me west of the Scioto.

But with only an hour to explore and return, I settled on two previews of coming attractions in Genoa Park, a recently revamped greenspace between Rich and Broad Streets in downtown Columbus.

With my Franklinton Art Walk map in hand, I passed Boomer bikers, Downtown worker walkers and homeless nappers in search of Locations 340 and 351.

Perennial construction rendered the sidewalk on the north side of West Broad Street unwalkable, so my route took me down to the walking path along the west bank of the river, past three strange “Scioto Lounge Deer Sculptures,” too scary to capture with my camera. Billed as “whimsical,” these humanized deer recall how the Scioto River takes its name from the Shawnee Indian word for “hairy water,” when the migrating Shawnee found deer hair floating in the river.

Still shuddering, I finally sighted Location 351, the statue that local artist Michael Foley created in 2000 to honor Lucas Sullivant, who surveyed and purchased several acres of land near the Scioto River in 1796. The following year, he mapped out and founded a town, naming it Franklinton in honor of Benjamin Franklin, and the first settlers began arriving that Fall. Franklinton was the first settlement in the Scioto Valley north of Chillicothe, and is the oldest neighborhood in Columbus.Lucas Sullivant

Standing tall and heroic, Sullivant looks westward, surveying the bend in the Scioto River, just as he did when he first arrived here in 1795.

Situated south of the Broad Street Bridge, near the east facade of the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), housed in the former Central High School at 333 W. Broad St., the 12-foot-tall statue sits atop a five-foot, 11,500-pound base of Columbus limestone taken from the same vein near the original Sullivant stone quarry. Three commemorative plaques on the statue’s base depict three events in Franklinton’s history. First is the June 1813 meeting of Chief Tarhe the Crane and General William Henry Harrison, resulting in permanent peace with the Indians of Ohio. Second is the devastation of the 1913 flood, which left Franklinton in 15 to 20 feet of water. And third is a tribute to the early women of Franklinton, including Sarah Lewis, librarian of Franklinton’s first library, named in honor of Maggie Fager. Fager’s parents owned a grocery store at 969 W. Broad St., and her husband established a reading room there.

After emerging from a maze that only a pedestrian could conquer, I arrived at Location 340: Celebration of Life.Celebration of Life

Columbus sculptor Alfred Tibor created this nine-foot-tall bronze statue to honor the story of Arthur Boke, the first known black child born in Franklinton, and Sarah Sullivant, Lucas Sullivant’s wife. Arthur’s mother was a black servant and his father was a white surveyor who worked for Sullivant. When Arthur was abandoned, Sarah raised him as her own with her newborn son, William, in 1803. Arthur stayed with the Sullivants his entire life and was buried with them in the family plot in the Franklinton cemetery.

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Climb A Smokestack To See A Glass River

Billy Joel’s “River of Dreams” may have been deep, wide and hard to cross, but he might have finally found what he had been looking for in the shimmering “River of Glass” that I discovered in Mount Vernon.

Ariel Foundation ParkThe River of Glass is one of the distinctive features of Ariel Foundation Park, located on the former site of Pittsburgh Plate Glass Works No. 11, one of the largest window-glass manufacturing facilities in the world. Crushed glass and chunks of glass, or cullets, cascade down a hillside, reminiscent of how continuous sheets of glass were drawn vertically from tanks of molten glass. The process was invented at this former PPG plant and was known as the PennVernon process.

The park is a tribute to the site’s rich industrial heritage, first as the location of a steel-casting plant and then as the home for the PPG factory, which operated from 1908 to 1979.

Other examples of the site’s industrial history include steel trusses salvaged from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition, a section of wall from the circa-1900 original building on the site, three elevator shaft towers…

Ariel Foundation Park

and a 280-foot reinforced concrete smokestack. Whether you climb the 224 steps of the steel spiral staircase constructed around it to an observation deck 140 feet above ground or stop whenever terror takes over, you’ll be treated to a beautiful view of Mount Vernon.

Ariel Foundation ParkViewing the smokestack from below can even inspire an impromptu lesson on perspective.Ariel Foundation Park

More picturesque views may be found on the spiral paths of The Terraces, inspired by the monumental works of landscape architect Charles Jencks.

Ariel Foundation Park

The PPG plant’s former carpenters’ shop, where wooden crates for transporting sheet glass were once made, is now the home of the Community Foundation Pavilion. The energy-efficient V-shaped roof of the circa-1945 structure continues to provide natural light and ventilation.Ariel Foundation Park

The Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railroad Depot, originally built in 1907, now serves as the park’s welcome center. The Ohio Erie Trail, running from Cleveland to Cincinnati on the old rail bed that once carried steam trains, passes nearby. A museum offers information about PPG that was provided through oral histories of former plant employees.

Three large lakes, former gravel quarries, are surrounded by seven perfect picnicking pavilions.

The historic Mill Road bowstring truss bridge spanning one of the lakes was built by the noted Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton in 1872 to cross a creek near the Knox County village of Bladensburg. The metal arches on each side of the bridge are made from four pieces of wrought iron riveted together to form a patented tubular column known as a “phoenix column.”Ariel Foundation Park

A cheerful red bridge and a narrow isthmus in one of the lakes lead to Mavis Island, dedicated to Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis, who was instrumental in developing the park.Ariel Foundation Park

A wooded area along the south side of the park’s lakes provides access to the Tree of Life Labyrinth, a 1,000-foot winding walkway that celebrates the virtues of faith, hope, charity and peace.

Concerts are held in the park’s event center throughout the summer season. The park is open until November 15.

For more, read Ariel Foundation Park, a book by Aaron J. Keirns that documents the creation of the park, the history of window-glass manufacturing and the history of PPG Works No. 11.

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Before I Trot To Delaware For The Jug, I Paced Myself With A Show Of Horses

Since reviewing farm science prevailed over seeing Betting Line win this year, I decided I’d put on my new Pink Pony birthday duds and trot up to Delaware to see an exhibition about harness racing.

A Show of HorsesA Show of Horses, recently on display at Ohio Wesleyan University’s Richard M. Ross Museum, celebrated Delaware’s annual Little Brown Jug harness race with horse-related paintings by alumna Nancy Frank, bronze sculptures by Lynn Sappington and artifacts from the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York.

Harness racing became popular during the late 18th century. While aristocrats raced each other while riding galloping Thoroughbred horses, country folk started holding matches where the family horse would be harnessed to a wagon, pulling it as he trotted along the road, moving his right fore leg in unison with his left hind leg. Later, a special lightweight one-seated racing cart with bicycle-like wheels, known as a sulky, was developed.

As the sport continued, horses were required to reach a certain time as they trotted the standard mile distance covered in the race. Horses who could pace or trot with an extended stride began to be called “Standardbred” horses.

Trotting contests flourished, especially during county fairs. As their popularity spread, horses like Lucy the Pacing Queen, Sleepy Tom and Flying Jib became celebrities. Americans wanted to have prints of their racing heroes to hang in their homes, and Currier & Ives – the famed lithographic printmaking firm that produced “The Best, the Cheapest and the Most Popular Pictures in the World” – delivered, offering almost 700 trotting prints for sale.A Show of Horses

Dan Patch was one of the fastest and most popular Standardbred pacers to be immortalized in other souvenir lithographs. Newspapers reported that men yelled themselves hoarse and tears of joy streamed down women’s faces over the idol of the American turf’s record-breaking performances. People even paid $5 for a hair from his tail.

A Show of Horses

Held during the Delaware County Fair since 1946, the Little Brown Jug – whose name was the result of a newspaper contest – has grown to become the premier harness racing event for three-year-old pacers, or horses whose left fore leg and left hind leg move in unison as they race. The horses enjoy the fast half-mile oval racing track, while observers like being able to sidle up to the sport’s leading trainers, drivers and owners in the county fair atmosphere where the sport began.

The exhibition featured driving jackets, trophies, and paintings of more recent Little Brown Jug participants, such as Ensign Hanover, driven by by Sep Palin.

A Show of Horses

Nancy Frank’s paintings presented larger-than-life likenesses of modern-day trotters and pacers…A Show of Horses

while the horses Lynda Sappington captures in sculpture looked as if they would trot right off their base, as this one who is “Just Trying to Help.”

A Show of Horses

To read more about harness racing, check out 100 Years in Harness: A Pictorial Journey Through Harness Racing in the 20th Century, with photographs from the United States Trotting Association Archives, written and edited by Nicole Krafft; and “The Great Dan Patch,” a 1949 movie about the legendary trotting horse. Stable Girl: Working for the Family, by Patricia Harrison Easton; The Black Stallion’s Sulky Colt, by Walter Farley; and Born To Trot, by Marguerite Henry, are good picks for young readers. Hoof Beats magazine is a publication of the United States Trotting Association.  For more on Currier & Ives, see Currier & Ives’ America: From a Young Nation to a Great Power, by Walton Rawls, and Currier & Ives: Portraits of a Nation, by Alexandra Bonfante-Warren.

Posted in Animals, Art, History, Museums, Sports | 1 Comment

Meet The Man Who Loved Nellie’s Oatmeal Cookies

Most of what inhabits my wallet is transitory, but one item has stood the test of time: my laminated tip calculation table, compliments of PIP Printing, that I picked up in high school. Tipping is tough for the mathematically challenged, and this handy reference tool continues to serve me well.Norman Rockwell: The Man Behind the Canvas

I thought about my trusty tipping table when I saw Boy in a Dining Car, Norman Rockwell’s image on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post’s December 7, 1946 issue. The cover is one of 100 Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover illustrations featured in Norman Rockwell: The Man Behind the Canvas, on view at the Springfield Museum of Art through December 31, 2016.

The exhibition reveals some fascinating details about Rockwell, his inspiration for several of the covers, and what was involved in creating them.

Norman Rockwell: The Man Behind the CanvasFrom 1916 until 1963, Rockwell created over 300 covers for the Saturday Evening Post. The cover of each magazine issue was designed to be a standalone work of art, a story in itself that was unrelated to the stories inside, and Rockwell delivered. He connected with readers by portraying familiar, ordinary moments of daily American life, giving them significance by emphasizing the important themes they convey. They continue to resonate.

The exhibition reveals how exacting Rockwell was in executing his covers. He conceived the idea for his subject; obtained approval from his art director; found models, mostly among his neighbors; tracked down props; and staged scenes. He worked with his subjects to capture just the right poses and facial expressions. He hired a photographer to take hundreds of pictures so that he could examine his subject from many angles. And then he went to work, capturing the scene first with a charcoal sketch and then in paint, rendering it in incredible detail.Norman Rockwell: The Man Behind the Canvas

For example, Rockwell used a dining car from the New York Central’s Lake Shore Limited as the setting for his depiction of a boy’s first experience calculating a waiter’s tip. His 10-year-old son, Peter, and a 28-year-veteran waiter served as his models. Over 70 photographs were taken during the model shoot, from which Rockwell worked to create his painting. According to the accompanying caption, Peter remembered that his father finally got him to pose by promising to take him to FAO Schwartz and buy him anything he wanted if he would just calm down, pose and stop complaining about how hot it was that day.

Other discoveries about Rockwell include his fascination with 17th-century Dutch painters, evident in how closely the interior of the 1955 painting of an actual engaged couple, Norman Rockwell: The Man Behind the CanvasThe Marriage License, is fashioned after one painted by Johannes Vermeer. It also presents how he respected modern art, painting The Connoisseur (the cover of the January 13, 1962 Post) as a tribute to drip painter Jackson Pollock.

Many perennial Rockwell favorites are here, such as his clever April-Fool covers; Saying Grace (November 24, 1951), inspired by an actual scene a woman observed in a Philadelphia automat; and Happy Birthday Miss Jones (March 17, 1956), capturing a classroom scene in which the expressions on the students’ faces are imagined through the teacher’s reaction to them.

The exhibit also includes 100 photographs of Rockwell that were taken by his assistant, Louis Lamone. From candid shots of him working in his notably tidy studio to breaking in shoes for a White House dinner with President Eisenhower in 1955, the photos capture the lanky painter’s charming devotion to his craft.

ONorman Rockwell: The Man Behind the Canvasriginal drawings and manuscripts are included in the exhibit, including Rockwell family Christmas cards and typewritten recipes for Rockwell’s favorite orange nut bread and oatmeal cookies made by his longtime cook, Nellie Srodulski.

For more on Norman Rockwell, see Norman Rockwell’s World: An American Dream, narrated by Rockwell and winner of the 1973 Academy Award for Best Short Subject; The Advertising World of Norman Rockwell, by Donald Robert Stoltz, Marshall Louis Stoltz and William B. Earle; Norman Rockwell, by Karal Ann Marling; American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell, by Deborah Solomon; Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, by Virginia M. Mecklenburg; Norman Rockwell: A Life, by Laura Claridge; Norman Rockwell: Storyteller with a Brush, by Beverly Gherman; Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People, by Maureen Hart Hennessey and Anne Knutson; and Rockwell’s autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator. Willie Was Different is a children’s story on which Rockwell collaborated with his third wife, Molly Punderson.

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How Many Battered Windows Can You Find On Brighton Road?

Did you know that taverns in frontier Columbus had live bears tethered to treadmills, pumping water stored in underground cisterns to the upper floors of the tavern so that overnight guests could bathe? How about the origin of the “shotgun” house, the narrow working-class home whose interior rooms and doorways are positioned in a straight line from the front door to the back door? The term “shotgun” derives from a misunderstood pronunciation of “togun,” the West African word for house, because this building style originated in Haiti and became popular in New Orleans.

You can rattle off fun facts like these if you attended the fourth season of “Art Walks & Landmark Talks,” a series of 21 free tours offered by the Columbus Landmarks Foundation and Columbus Public Health on most Monday evenings between May 2 and October 10. Expert guides led hour-long walking tours focusing on the art, history and architecture of several Columbus neighborhoods, including the Discovery District, the Arena District, the Short North, the University District, and the Brewery District.

On a picture-perfect June evening, family friend Martin Cataline pointed out some highlights of his neighborhood, Merion Village. Its namesake, William Merion, journeyed on horseback from Massachusetts to Columbus in 1808, joined his siblings to purchase 1,800 acres of land located in what is now the South side of Columbus, and built a home on what is now the corner of East Moler Avenue and South High Street. German, Irish, Italian and eastern European immigrants settled in this area as it became an industrial and manufacturing center that was home to two large iron and steel mills.

Interesting discoveries abound in this neighborhood where you can spot walls built from Ohio Penitentiary stones, as well as Jaeger Village, built on the site of the former Eyerman Meat Market, a slaughterhouse from which cows accidentally escaped once and ran through the neighborhood. Who would have guessed that St. Paul United Church of Christ contains a building where members of a German hunting club once convened for target practice…Merion Village

and the Gates Fourth United Methodist Church, an 1895 creation of local architect Frank Packard, is one of the last German-speaking parishes in Columbus?

Merion Village

On another walk originating at the former Barrett Middle School, dozens of people made their way down Mithoff Street, passing the former homes of Henry Heinmiller and Charles Isaly, whose family owned the Isaly’s regional chain of deli-ice cream parlors and created its signature Klondike Bars, “Chipped Chopped Ham” and “Skyscraper” ice cream cones, created with a tall scooper resembling an Art Deco skyscraper.

In nearby German Village the next week, still more people strolled through Schiller Park, originally known as Stewart’s Grove but renamed in 1905 to commemorate the centenary of German poet Friedrich Schiller death. Here, you can see the caretaker’s cottage, built in 1935 as a Works Progress Administration project, and the Umbrella Girl statue fashioned by local artist Joan Wobst in 1996 in tribute to the original statue that once stood in the park.

Homes bordering the park range from the modest houses on Jaeger Street that were built for brewers to elegant Queen Anne Vernacular homes on Deshler Avenue. For example, the home of Ludwig von Gerichten, the German emigrant who started a prizewinning art glass studio, features an eight-foot stained glass door featuring the initials of its owner.

German Village

A few doors down the street stands the Italianate-style home of Friedrich Wittenmeier, a stone contractor who installed swings and a roller-skating rink on the top floor to entertain his children in bad weather.German Village

One sweltering June evening, dozens of people kept cool with complimentary fans illustrated with images from the Gateway History Murals painted on the railroad underpass on East North Broadway between Indianola Avenue and Interstate 71. As we walked up Milton Avenue, crossed North Broadway, turned left on Kenworth Road to Orchard Lane and back to High Street, we learned to spot unique architectural details like the bay windows on the side of a home that were built to accommodate pianos.

Clintonville piano window

And those Arts & Crafts-style window and door frames that are thicker at the bottom than at the top? They’re known as “battered” frames, and you can see some fine examples of them in Clintonville, especially along Brighton Road.


As dusk fell on a subsequent evening, we were introduced to “tramp” walls – those topped by vertical stones to keep hobos from perching on them.  We paused in the parking lot of the Southwick-Good & Fortkamp Funeral Chapel at 3100 N. High St., near the former home of Mathias Armbruster. The German art glass and portrait painter opened the first scenic design company in the United States, Armbruster and Sons Scenic Studios, which painted scenic backdrops for Vaudeville, minstrel and magic touring shows until it closed in 1958.

Although this season’s Art Walks & Landmark Talks have concluded, click here to download self-guided walking maps and audio tours highlighting artistic, architectural and historical sites in several Columbus neighborhoods.

For more on these Columbus neighborhoods, see We Too Built Columbus, edited by Ruth Young White; Images of America: Clintonville and Beechwold, by Shirley Hyatt; Historic Columbus Taverns: The Capital City’s Most Storied Saloons, by Tom Betti and Doreen Uhas Sauer; and Klondikes, Chipped Ham & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly’s, by Brian Butko. The Armbruster Scenic Studio Collection at the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute, part of The Ohio State University Libraries Special Collections, includes set designs for minstrel shows, theatre, and other stage performances, as well as, inspirational source material clippings from illustrated journals, financial information, and other miscellaneous materials relating to the studio. For more, see A History of the Armbruster Scenic Studio of Columbus, Ohio, a dissertation by Robert S. Joyce, and a 2014 “Broad and High” segment about it, which you can watch here.

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Start Your Farm Science Review Experience At 910 Wheat Street

Ride in a hot air balloon. Go whale-watching. Learn how to waltz. Solve Rubik’s Cube. See Stonehenge.  They’re all possibilities for a bucket list of unique things people dream of accomplishing.

I checked off one of my own recently: Experiencing the Farm Science Review.

Farm Science ReviesThe Farm Science Review takes place for three days each September at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center, located at the intersection of U.S. 40 and S.R. 38, two miles north of London, Ohio. This year marked the 54th annual Review and the 34th to take place at the center. Over 125,000 people attended the Review this year.

The property was once owned by Molly Brown Caren, a St. Joseph Academy schoolmate of my grandmother’s who grew up on her father’s fruit farm just north of Worthington. Molly attended Trinity College in Washington, DC for two years, then returned to Columbus and graduated from The Ohio State University in 1935. After her parents died, she inherited the fruit farm and managed it for the next 25 years, living there with her husband, attorney John Caren. Ohio State agriculture professors took their students to Molly’s farm so that they could observe pest control, soil improvement and other innovative farming practices that her father had learned from extension agents.

In 1979, Molly decided to trade her fruit farm for a Madison County livestock farm. She enrolled in livestock management courses at Ohio State as part of Program 60, an initiative encouraging older adults to return to the classroom. In 1982, Molly sold almost 1,000 acres of another one of her family’s farms in Madison County to Ohio State as the new site of the Farm Science Review.

Farm Science ReviewHosted by Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the Review provides farmers, gardeners and agricultural enthusiasts with an opportunity to see new equipment, learn about new developments in agriculture, and to enjoy spending time with friends they haven’t seen in a while. It’s a huge area to navigate, and cleverly named streets lead to the most fascinating things.

My daFarm Science Reviewd and I first made tracks to 910 Wheat Street, the Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives building.

Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, the statewide service organization and power supplier for the electric co-ops serving Ohio, has been providing electricity to Ohio’s rural communities since 1941. During my days as an Oxford homeowner, I became a fan of the Butler Rural Electric Cooperative.

We posed for the cover of Country Living, the Cooperatives’ magazine that not only relays industry news, but also publishes terrific recipes, fascinating destinations throughout Ohio, and an informative calendar of events happening around the Buckeye State. Digital issues of Country Living are available here.

We registered to win a leaf blower, then snacked on popcorn as we watched children ride an energy bike, pedaling fast to create energy to power various household appliances. We took home stickers, temporary tattoos and a coloring book featuring CFL Charlie, a compact fluorescent light bulb, and LED Lucy, a light emitting diode light bulb. We played Co-Op Jeopardy, winning deluxe yardsticks when we correctly answered the $400 question, “Where do you go for updates on co-op business?,” by answering “The annual meeting!”

Farm Science ReviewBut what we had really come to see was one of the four daily microwave cooking demonstrations given by home economist Patricia Miller and Sherry Bickel. For their 27th annual appearance at the Review, the pair whipped up Mexican dip, smoked sausage and apples, macaroni and cheese with cauliflower, and pumpkin spice cake, as granola bread baked in a bread machine. We left with a complimentary cookbook featuring all the recipes they demonstrated.

Totally stuffed from our tasting plate, we began exploring the rest of the Review. There’s no shortage of things to do.

Harvesting, strip-tilling, planting and tillage demonstrations take place each day. Hundreds of demonstration plots illustrate the research that OSU Extension’s Agronomic Crops Team conducts with sod, corn hybrids, popcorn, and soybeans. Attendees can talk with agronomists about weed control, cover crops, nutrient management and soil quality.

Farm Science ReviewOver 600 exhibitors showed off the latest in all-terrain vehicles, combines, harvesters, and construction and earth-moving equipment; alternative energy; animal care products; crop consulting; dairy products and equipment; drills, planters and seeders; feed; fencing; fertilizer; forage and hay equipment; generators; grain bins, dryers and handling equipment; agricultural chemicals; horticultural and landscape equipment; irrigation equipment; lawn and garden equipment; lumber, forestry and sawmill equipment; scale and weigh wagons; snow handling equipment; sprayers and storage tanks; tillage equipment; livestock and cargo trailers; tractors and trucks. We marveled at how huge farming machinery can be; some looked like they were straight from a Star Wars set.

Farm Science ReviewAlmost 200 educational sessions covered chainsaw safety and maintenance; how drones can provide aerial imagery to illustrate heat stress on crops; new techniques in corn harvesting, field drainage installation, the latest in grain handling automation, growing fruit crops in containers, keeping bees, vermicomposting and more. “Ride and Drive” activities provided attendees with the chance to learn how to drive equipment in challenging field and road conditions.

Local 4-H clubs offered engaging educational activities for young and old alike who support 4-H’s commitment to clearer thinking, greater loyalty, larger service and better living.

Milk delivery wagons, a clover huller, a reaper, garden tractors, and a wooden plow were displayed as examples of farm machinery, garden equipment and kitchen utensils made between 1800 and 1930.

Farm Science ReviewThere was no chance of going hungry at the Review. Members of the Buckeye Dairy Club served milkshakes, while students from the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Saddle and Sirloin, an animal science club, grilled pork chops and other locally-sourced meats. Community-based groups like the Kiwanis Club of Hilliard prepared chicken and noodles, corn muffins and bean and ham soup. The OSU Agricultural Education Society served Schmidt’s Bahama Mama sausages, bratwurst, hot dogs, German potato salad, sauerkraut and cream puffs.

The Utzinger Memorial Garden is the Review’s charming gem. This lovely place tended by Madison County Master Gardeners featured displays of fairy gardens,

Farm Science Reviewstraw bale gardening,Farm Science Review

and thriving vegetable gardens planted with Malabar climbing spinach, melons and purple hyacinth beans.Farm Science ReviewSome Master Gardener volunteers were on hand to answer gardening questions. Others demonstrated visitors how easy it is to prepare grilled fruits and vegetables, serving samples of grilled bananas, watermelon, pears, peaches, pineapple, romaine lettuce and asparagus. dscn5098In the garden’s gazebo, we learned about diabetes gardening from Shari Gallup and Lori Swihart of the OSU Extension in Newark. The pair shared facts about stevia, a plant with naturally sweet leaves that is 200 times sweeter in the same concentration as sugar, gave us hints on starting and caring for a garden plot planted with “Health Kick” tomatoes, an excellent source of Vitamin C with 50 percent more of the cancer-fighting antioxidant Lycopene; as well as basil, broccoli, spearmint, dandelion greens and garlic, all of which lower glucose and are helpful in controlling blood sugar levels. You can watch Shari and Lori’s “Garden to Plate” videos and recipes, including those for salsa, cucumber dill dip, pesto, green beans and more, here.Farm Science ReviewWe boarded a tractor-pulled wagon and took a short ride across Interstate 70 to the Gwynne Conservation Area.Farm Science ReviewHere, we boarded another tram and saw plantings of Indian grass, Big Bluestem and other prairie grasses, a pond where wood ducks live, grafted nut and black walnut trees cared for by the Ohio Nut Growers Association, bat boxes, plantations of black walnuts, pines and hardwood trees, an elm restoration area, a pawpaw patch and The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Cabin, which features a deck and stairs made from 50,000 recycled milk jugs. Farm Science ReviewBack at the Review’s main exhibit area, we stopped by the building hosted by Ohio Farmer, a newspaper that covers the latest in crops, machinery and technology, conservation, farm management and livestock. Early versions of the newspaper included The Ohio Cultivator (1845) and The Ohio Farmer (1851); the two merged in 1861 and the paper became known as Ohio Farmer.

“Brown Diaries Reveal History,” an article I wrote for the November 2008 issue of Ohio Farmer, introduced readers to Waldo Brown, associate editor of Ohio Farmer from 1877 to 1897 who grew flowers, fruits and vegetables at his East View Farm outside Oxford. Seven of his diaries at Miami University Libraries’ Walter Havighurst Special Collections provide insights into farming practices from 1857 through 1917. Hoping that other farmers might benefit from getting together to discuss common challenges, Brown organized farmers’ clubs in local communities, lectured for the Ohio Farmers’ Institute, operated a mail-order seed business, contributed more than 1,000 articles to publications, edited the first farm page for the Cincinnati Enquirer from 1872 to 1877, and was agricultural editor of the Cincinnati Gazette until his death in 1907. He wrote several books on farming, including Success in Farming: A Series of Practical Talks with Farmers (1881) and Experiments in Farming (1905).

The 55th Annual Farm Science Review will take place September 19-21, 2017.

Posted in Gardens, History, Miscellanea, Nature/Outdoors, Ohio | Leave a comment

Fran’s Lemon Coconut Squares And Buttermilk Brownies Make Whitelaw’s House A Home

October 15, 1966 was an auspicious day in Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. He signed the National Historic Preservation Act, which created the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of our country’s historic places that are worthy of preservation.

Whitelaw Reid houseTo celebrate the 50th anniversary of that event, the Ohio History Connection and more than 80 partnering organizations sponsored Ohio Open Doors. During this 10-day event in September, dozens of special programs and behind-the-scenes tours not ordinarily available were held at historic sites across the state.

One very special Ohio Open Doors event took place during the afternoon of Sunday, September 18. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his wife, Fran, welcomed visitors to their Cedarville home.

The architectural importance of the DeWines’ home is one reason it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, but its primary significance is that it is the birthplace of Whitelaw Reid (1837-1912). Reid was the Republican Vice Presidential candidate under Benjamin Harrison in the 1892 presidential election; United States Ambassador to France from 1889 to 1892; United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s from 1905 to 1912; and editor of the New York Tribune from 1872 until his death.

Whitelaw Reid houseReid’s father, Robert Charlton Reid, chose to live near Xenia, the Greene County seat that was steadily growing because of the area’s success in producing corn, wheat and wool. For the site of his home, he chose a forested area that was being cleared for planting on a small country road southwest of Cedarville. Doing much of the work himself, he built the house in 1826, the year he married Marion Whitelaw Ronalds.

The two-story building had a one-story wing containing a sitting room, a dining room and a kitchen. Wood from the farm was used in the house’s construction; the floors were of made of oak, while the doors, stairs and interior woodwork were of black walnut. The first-floor rooms had large marble fireplaces, the windows had 8” by 10” glass panes, and the living room had plenty of bookcases to accommodate the couple’s love of books. Some of the Reids’ original furniture is still in the house today.Whitelaw Reid house

After graduating from Miami University in 1856, Reid held a variety of jobs. He was the principal of a small grade school in South Charleston, a few miles from Xenia. He also worked as an agent for a mail-order fruit tree nursery in Illinois and as a distributor for a new writing fluid. But he discovered that journalism was his true calling.

He edited the Xenia News. He traveled to Columbus, where he reported the annual session of the Ohio Legislature for the Cincinnati Times. He was city editor for the Cincinnati Gazette, then served as an aide-de-camp for the newspaper during the Civil War. He worked hard, carefully analyzing the events of the war, and gained a national reputation as a reporter. In 1868, he accepted Horace Greeley’s offer to join the staff of the New York Tribune, and took over after Greeley’s death in 1872. He adopted improvements to the printing and distribution of newspapers, such as using patented typesetting machines, the linotype machine and the typewriter.

Whitelaw Reid houseWhile Reid’s journalistic career flourished, his widowed mother continued to live at their Cedarville home. He visited Cedarville often, keeping an eye on the family home. He occasionally purchased small adjoining tracts of land, and he hired locals to keep the house in good condition. A tree enthusiast, he ordered seedlings for the property, giving specific instructions on where they should be planted. Most important, he substantially remodeled and enlarged the house.

Outside, the weatherboarded structure with a tiled roof is classic Queen Anne style. Inside, the main stairway and some of the added rooms feature beautiful handcrafted paneling and other decorative elements.

The DeWines have lived in the home since 1974, making their own additions to the home to accommodate their eight children and 22 grandchildren.Whitelaw Reid house

For the Ohio Open Doors event, Attorney General DeWine personally welcomed visitors at the home’s original front door. Mrs. DeWine gave tours of the original downstairs portion of the home, and her husband rejoined groups to describe the subsequent additions to the home. Guests were then invited to tour a large guest house the DeWines recently built on their property. There, we saw historic photos and artifacts pertaining to Reid, as well as countless DeWine family photographs and mementos lining the walls.

Besides offering lemonade to her guests, Mrs. DeWine served lemon coconut squares and buttermilk brownies. Recipes for both sweet treats are included in the 12th edition of Fran DeWine’s Family Favorites, a printed collection of handwritten recipes with illustrations created by DeWine children and grandchildren. Guests took home a complimentary copy of the cookbook, which also includes recipes for Mrs. DeWine’s favorite rolls and the Attorney General’s favorite honey-spice cookies and raspberry pie.Whitelaw Reid house

For more on Reid, see The Life of Whitelaw Reid, a two-volume biography by Royal Cortissoz, and Whitelaw Reid: Journalist, Politician, Diplomat, by Bingham Duncan.

Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Her Generals, and Soldiers is Reid’s two-volume work on the history of the state during the Civil War, as well as information about Ohio’s regiments and generals during the war. It was published in 1868. Two years earlier, Reid wrote After the War: A Southern Tour, a record of what he had seen and his impressions of his trips through the South.

Reid was often requested to address various events, and the text of several of his speeches were printed. For example, see The Story of San Francisco for English Ears: Luton Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, April 10, 1908; Our New Interests: An Address at the University of California, on Charter Day, March 23, 1900; Our New Duties: A Commencement Address at the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of Miami University, Thursday, June 15, 1899; University Tendencies in America: An Address Delivered at Leland Stanford, Jr., University, April 19, 1901; The Scot in America and the Ulster Scot: Edinburgh Philosophical Institution, Opening Address, Season of 1911-12, Synod Hall, November 1, 1911 and Some Newspaper Tendencies: An Address Delivered Before the Editorial Associations of New-York and Ohio.

During the 1870s, Reid was president of The Lotos Club of New York, a literary club. Lotos Leaves: Original Stories, Essays and Poems, a publication of the club that was edited by William Fearing Gill, includes “Some Southern Reminiscences,” an essay Reid wrote that includes recollections of the year or two that he spent on Louisiana and Alabama cotton plantations after the Civil War.

Original letters that Reid wrote to Miami University’s Board of Trustees in 1856; its president, Robert Hamilton Bishop, Jr. in 1881; and William McSurely, its librarian, in 1899 and 1903 are among the holdings of The Walter Havighurst Special Collections at Miami University’s King Library. You can see scans of the letters and read their transcriptions in two books I edited: With Sentiments of Respect and Affection: Letters of Old Miami, 1809-1873 and There Can Never Come a Second Home Half So Sacred: Selected Documents of Miami University, 1873-1931.

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