Grow Your Knowledge Of Mary Gardens

A Book of Hours is a beautiful thing. Vivid colors, miniature paintings and hand-lettered texts make these little medieval prayer books extraordinary works of art.  

Study the decorative borders framing this devotional text from the collection of The Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and notice the flowers. Long before the Victorians relied on the special meanings of flowers to convey sentimental messages, saints and artists of the Middle Ages associated particular flowers with the virtues of the Virgin Mary. For example, violets represented her modesty; roses, her charity; and lilies, her purity. Other plants came to represent events in her life, like Our Lady’s Bedstraw for Jesus’ birth in a manger and Our Lady’s Tears for Mary’s weeping at the foot of the cross. Still more represented her garments and other physical attributes: blue morning glories came to be known as Lady’s Mantle, while forget-me-nots are reminiscent of her blue eyes. And some merely recalled her name, like marigold and rosemary.

It became customary to include these plants in gardens, creating a beautiful environment where people could pray their Book of Hours and think about how they might try to emulate Mary’s virtues in their daily lives. St. Fiacre, the Irish patron saint of gardening, tended a Mary-inspired garden at a French hospice; the sacristan of Norwich Priory in England did the same.

When John S. Stokes. Jr. became interested in medieval religious symbolism, he came across the concept of “Mary Gardens” and was so taken with the idea that he decided to rekindle interest in them. The University of Dayton’s Roesch Library spread the word about Mary Gardens and Stokes alike in three exceptional recent exhibitions.

Born in 1920, Stokes was raised as a Quaker, but converted to Catholicism in 1946. From his Philadelphia home, he and his business partner, Edward McTague, promoted Mary Gardens through writing articles about them, selling packets of seeds of plants and flowers honoring Mary, and providing suggested planting layouts. Recognizing that not everyone had the time or space for a formal garden, he promoted Mary Gardens in many forms, from windowboxes to small dishes and terrariums.

Stokes also became active in civil rights and social justice. He died in 2007; in 2013, his papers, organizational records, correspondence, research materials, articles, photographs, audio recordings, ephemera and other items related to the Mary Garden movement, were transferred to the University of Dayton. It is now known as the John Stokes and Mary Gardens Collection.

On the first floor of the library, visitors could walk through a living indoor garden filled with flowers and plants named for Mary. These included bellflowers (Our Lady’s Nightcap), clematis (Virgin’s Bower), bleeding heart (Mary’s Heart), Foxglove (Our Lady’s Gloves), Baby’s Breath (Our Lady’s Veil), pink Lenten roses, St. Joseph’s Lily, hydrangeas, lavender (Mary’s Drying Plant), OxEye Daisy (Mary, Flower of God), white peony (Pentecost rose), shrub roses (Mary’s Sorrow and Blood of Christ) and more.

About every 10 days, some plants were alternated to represent the changing seasons: tulips (also known as Mary’s Prayer) for spring, begonias and hyacinths (Star of Bethlehem and Lily-Among-Thorns) for summer, chrysanthemums and cyclamens (All Saint’s Flower and Our Lady’s Little Ladles) for fall, and Christmas kalanchoes and daffodils (Mary’s Star) for winter.

Since a Mary Garden typically features a statue of Mary as a focal point, the display garden included Seat of Wisdom: Madonna and Child, designed by Ade Bethune for the Mary’s Gardens movement.

Saint Joseph, Workman: Patron of Mary’s Gardeners, also designed by Bethune, features St. Joseph, husband of Mary and the patron saint of workers. The cultivating tool he holds in his hand highlights the parallel between cultivating plant life and cultivating our own spiritual life.

The garden represented other traditional elements of a Mary Garden: enclosed, with one or two axes establishing a symmetrical planting of flower beds. For proportion, several plants of each variety were placed together. The garden’s cross-shaped design, another medieval tradition, was inspired by Stokes’ research.

As part of his work with the Wellsprings Ecumenical Center, Stokes frequently appeared on Input, a panel discussion of issues related to race, faith and community that aired on Philadelphia television from 1968 to 1971. An episode called “Flower Power” featured Stokes discussing Marian flower symbolism; a recording of it was available to watch not only in the library’s lobby, but also on

Artifacts, photographs and personal papers belonging to Stokes and displayed in cases positioned around the mezzanine on the second floor invited visitors to become more acquainted with Stokes, American Catholicism, and Catholic social justice. Another display covered the Mary Garden in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, which inspired Stokes to create the Mary Gardens movement. Collages along the walls of the exhibit space represented the hundreds of slides, photographs and pamphlets from the collection.

A selection of hand-painted woodcut-style Mary flower prints by local Dayton artist A. Joseph Barrish, S.M., were also displayed on this floor. These images were created as illustrations for the book Mary’s Flowers: Gardens, Legends and Meditations by Vincenzina Krymow. One of these works was featured on a bookmark promoting the exhibit, which also came with a wildflower-seed-studded paper flowerpot which you could plant in your own garden.

The Marian Library Gallery on the seventh floor of the library was filled with 24 newly commissioned paintings by Cincinnati artist Holly Schapker that feature Mary flowers and scenes from Mary’s life. Several of the paintings were inspired by well-known artists and their masterpieces, from Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Monet and Grandma Moses to Giovanni Bellini’s Pieta and Annunciation, in the style of Fra Filippo Lippi.

“Pray…that young people will come forward to carry on the work of the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens as a living tradition – supported by the archives of our work,” Stokes said. To encourage that, the University of Dayton’s bookstore sells Mary Garden Eco-Cubes. Containing seeds, growing material and a statue of Mary that can be placed in or next to a decorated wooden box, they are available in five different varieties: Mary’s Drying Plant (Lavender), Eyes of Mary (Forget-Me-Not), Fruitfulness of Mary (Strawberry), Our Lady’s Modesty (Violet), and Our Lady’s Rose (Rose).

Visitors could also sign an electronic guestbook and be entered to win a rose-printed vase by local artist Joe Plummer, who used textured hosiery to create the pattern and the color blue to symbolize Mary.

Click here for garden guides, plant lists and other resources. For more information, read “Mary Gardens Historical Perspective, by John S. Stokes, Jr., adapted from “An Historical Note” pamphlet written for the Annapolis Mary Garden in 1991, and “A Mary Garden for Mother’s Day,” by Rita Heikenfeld.

Posted in Dayton, Gardens, Libraries, Special Collections | 1 Comment

Sniff Out The Food Truck Topped Off With A Spatula And A Rolling Pin

Remember when King Arthur Flour’s traveling baking demonstration came to Akron, Ohio in November 2013? Now these Vermont-based bakers are hitting the road in a spiffy food truck, whipping up freshly baked batches of treats to share with foodies around the country.

When a tweet from Dorothy Lane Market told me that the bake truck was at its three Dayton stores recently, I sniffed out that the truck would be stopping at the Kroger Marketplace on Sawmill Road in Dublin last Wednesday.

Who can resist a truck topped with a giant spatula, a rolling pin on its bumper, a license plate that reads “BAKE” and “How’s My Baking? Call 844-523-BAKE” above its back door?

The truck was on the way home from a more-than-three-month swing through Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio. Since the truck began crossing the country in 2014, it has made appearances at the Maine Lobster Festival, the State Fair of Virginia, an international biscuit festival in Tennessee, a barbecue festival in North Carolina, a chili cook-off in South Carolina, the San Diego St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a Pittsburgh Pirates spring training game in Florida and more. On previous visits here in Columbus, it has been at the Jazz and Rib Fest and Sur La Table.

King Arthur Flour’s newest Essential Goodness mixes are the stars of this show. Made without hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, or preservatives, these mixes create chocolate chip cookies, pancakes, vanilla bean cheesecake bars, lemon bars, sour cream coffeecake, cinnamon sugar puff muffins and malted milk chocolate cupcakes and frosting. For each Essential Goodness mix sold, King Arthur donates the cost to supply one meal to Feeding America, the largest organization combating hunger in our country. So far, over $77,000 has been raised in support of hunger relief.

Those who stopped by the truck received a free Essential Goodness chocolate chip cookie and a coupon for an Essential Goodness mix, which was accompanied by a recipe for combining two different mix flavors into one magnificent chocolate chip cheesecake bardessert. Another recipe for Everyday Whole-Grain Bread was up for grabs, adopted from the King Arthur Flour Bake for Good program, which encourages children to bake a loaf of bread for someone in need, a friend or a neighbor. Other take-home souvenirs included a booklet on gluten-free baking and a complimentary magnet printed with the toll-free number of the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Hotline, which welcomes calls for advice, help and baking tips. A flexible plastic bowl scraper, embossed with the King Arthur Flour logo, is perfect for scraping out cake batter or cookie dough from a mixer bowl, dividing bread dough into loaves, or portioning roll dough.

This summer, the truck will go to Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire. Check the schedule for information on future stops.

Posted in Food | 1 Comment

It’s Been Thirty Years Since I Graduated From Columbus School For Girls, So It’s Time For A Reunion!

“Get ready – you’re going to see some train wrecks,” The Incredible Dave warned. “Drink some Unicorn Blood coffee before you go.”

Such was my send-off on the eve of my reunion with my Columbus School for Girls classmates to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our graduation. This was the first time I would be seeing many of them since June 12, 1987. Would Dave’s prediction come true?

Before I tell you what happened, let me introduce you to CSG.  At this remarkable school, students become self-reliant, critical thinkers who are intellectually curious, make informed decisions, and are successful, engaged women with a positive sense of self. To me, it’s the fabulous place where I learned how to swim, type, play golf, attack library research, write papers, diagram sentences, read Latin, manage time and generally become the Betsy you know today.

Columbus School for Girls opened in 1898; in 1904, Alice Gladden, daughter of social reformer Washington Gladden, became headmistress and introduced several things that continue to define the school. Alumna and teacher Helen Osborn ’06 created the school crest, featuring an open book, three red roses (the school’s flower) and the school’s motto, Forte et Gratum (Strength and Grace).

The unicorn, a medieval symbol of girlhood, became CSG’s mascot.  Washington Gladden wrote “Our Morning Song of Praise,” the school hymn.   

Red and gold, the school’s colors, date to 1923, when intramural teams were established to encourage achievement in athletics, scholarship and school attendance. Classes ending in even years are on the Red Team, and classes ending in odd years are on the Gold Team.

CSG’s iconic uniform of a white blouse, saddle shoes and light blue tunic was introduced in 1932, with a Black Watch plaid and navy blazer for the winter months (in 1980, the fall and spring uniform changed to the current Campbell plaid tunics and skirts). Five years later, Dr. Samuel Shellabarger became the school’s first headmaster. The author of historical novels like Captain from Castile and Prince of Foxes (both of which became Hollywood films starring Tyrone Power), Dr. Shellabarger wrote “Schoolmates, Lift Your Voices” and made it the school song, setting his lyrics to the tune of “Old Melody.”

In the decades that followed, CSG continued to develop its academically rigorous college preparatory curriculum. It moved from its original home on East Town Street, west of Parsons Avenue, to 56 South Columbia Avenue in Bexley.

Comments written by CSG teachers to accompany report cards still in the Butler family archives will help me tell the rest of this story.

In September 1973, a “gentle and personable little girl” arrived at CSG for my first day of preschool.

As the school years progressed, I showed my teachers that I was “exceptionally capable in reading.” “Attentive, cooperative and eager to learn,” I worked “neatly and methodically,” applying myself diligently to math, even though it wasn’t my favorite subject. 

“Poised, calm, conscientious, interested and organized,” I developed a “reputation, well-deserved, for being a ‘cracker-jack’ speller.”

Teachers noticed what I was nuts about, and encouraged my interests, like playing the dulcimer in a Second Form musical production.

Not only has Betsy contributed a little history, adventure, travel and art to the class in a most interesting and entertaining way, she has also added much enthusiasm, happiness and friendliness,” my Third Form teacher wrote. “It is especially enjoyable to see the delight with which Betsy shares her varied interests and personal experiences with others. We are all richer as a result of her doing so.” That year, I was cast as a tour guide in a class production of “Hans Christian Andersen.”

But there was plenty of room for improvement. I was very reluctant to try something new, especially where physical education was concerned. “Betsy is sometimes timid in attempting tasks presented on the gymnastic equipment, but works very hard and does a front roll on the balance beam with encouragement,” one teacher observed. In dance, I was “very inhibited.” “Tell Betsy to stop reading once in a while to enjoy a swim!,” my patient instructor said.

And then there was the troublesome matter of talking, which continues to this day. “Betsy is usually quiet in class, but when she does get started talking, she goes on at length,” my Fifth Form teacher observed. Subsequent teachers hoped that I would volunteer more often in class because they had to make a conscious effort to see that I got my turn. “Betsy is very articulate, though her shy personality hides her potential. Rather than always allowing others to assume the lead, she should try to become more active in discussions.”

Now, I’d gladly lead a discussion of everything I relished about CSG. Weekly Chapel gatherings featured presentations like the founding of Cheryl’s Cookies, preceded by an invocation, a responsive reading, a hymn and a prayer from our Book of Services. At the annual Thanksgiving program, we watched preschoolers and Kindergarteners sing “Over the River and Through the Woods,” then joined in for “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” and “We Gather Together.” Each December, we watched the Sixth Form perform “The Second Shepherd’s Play,” a CSG tradition since 1904.

“Woman by birth, lady by choice,” John V. Chapman, CSG’s headmaster from 1966 to 1985, reminded us as we stood up when our teachers entered the room and curtseyed when we received recognition at the end-of-the-school-year  awards ceremony. We sang “Fill the World With Love,” from Goodbye Mr. Chips, and the “Vacation Song”: “I have studied my book from September to May, I have done my work right heartily; my pen and my book I fling away, for thoughts of the summer are taking me!”

When the “loyal and resolute band” described in our class song, “Oh, We Are The Class (Of 1987),” became seniors, we moved into the coveted Senior Commons and made sandcastings for the courtyard.  Can you spot mine?

The secluded little courtyard is best known for its fountain that represents a young girl embracing a unicorn, sculpted by now-retired CSG art teacher Carol Clark. Here I am posing with it in 1975. 

We dressed up for the Holiday Dinner in December 1986…

and before long, my CSG career started coming to a close. First came my induction into the Cum Laude Society, followed by receiving the Mary Jane Rodabaugh trophy I received for achievement in history. In keeping with CSG tradition, I wore a Princess Diana-inspired long white dress that my aunt Sally designed and my mother made for my graduation. I carried a dozen red roses and curtsied to Headmistress Patricia Hayot as she handed me my diploma.

As Dr. Shellabarger wrote in his song, “Time and tide may sever, years may flow between….Still with hearts unshaken we shall turn to thee, and find our youth awaken at CSG.” That’s exactly what happened on April 28 and 29, when over 275 alumnae of all ages returned to campus for eight different events planned to celebrate their reunions.

Judy Roth Garel ’51 received the Alumna of the Year award. CSG’s 1987 State Championship 4×800 Relay Team was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame. And at the Alumnae Weekend Brunch, we received Red and Gold Team badges as party favors, toured the school, and posed for a picture as we enjoyed being in each other’s company again. No train wrecks in sight!

Courtesy of Columbus School for Girls

As we listened to Head of School Jennifer Ciccarelli’s State of the School address, we collectively gasped when we heard the news that Dr. Perry Rogers, our Upper School history teacher, will be retiring at the end of this school year.  CSG just won’t be the same without Dr. Rogers!

Before he led an “academic salon” for alumnae to discuss Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Dr. Rogers joined us for one more group photograph.

Courtesy of Columbus School for Girls

Why was my favorite teacher of all time so special to us? I’ll tell you after his June 13 retirement party.

Posted in Columbus School for Girls | 1 Comment

Primitive Stitchers Know How To Root Out The Good Stuff

Where do you get your news?  

Television broadcasts and headline digests are effective ways to keep up to speed on current events, but I’m also partial to combing the calendar of events section of magazines, newspapers, newsletters and websites for the latest possibilities of free-time fillers.  

One recent case in point was an entry I spotted in the May/June 2017 issue of Early American Life magazine for the Primitive Stitchers Society Retreat and Merchant Mall, held right here in Columbus earlier this month. An event organized and attended by members of a Facebook group who appreciate and enjoy creating handcrafted needlework in the 18th-century American folk art tradition? Now that’s news worth reporting!

Since 1970, Early American Life has covered traditional 18th-century styles, with reports on antiques, gardens, private homes decorated in period style, recipes and reproductions made by artisans working in period styles with traditional tools. I turn right to the make-it-yourself craft featured in each issue, turning out tree ornaments from Rebekah L. Smith’s Wool Appliqué Folk Art and Valentine penny rugs made from wool scraps with coins used as templates.

Created in March 2014, the Primitive Stitchers Society organized its first annual retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2015, followed by its second gathering in Marietta, Georgia last year. Future retreats are scheduled to take place in Nashville, Phoenix and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Over 100 attendees from around the country gathered in Columbus to take special stitching and framing workshops, with more people like me stopping by to shop primitive-style needlework selections offered by about 15 different vendors.

I browsed booths stocked with sewing supplies like hand-painted velvets, custom-dyed linens, lacing threads used to make hand-braided rugs, hand-dyed wools and Valdani threads, pinkeeps, sewing rolls, thread waxers and catchers, mother-of-pearl thread winders, and thimble-topped needle books covered in crochet to resemble hats.

Some needlework designers introduced new patterns at the retreat. One was Notforgotten Farm from Amherst, Virginia, whose booth had a constant line of punchneedle and hooked embroidery fans, arms filled with new projects to buy.

Another was Summer House Stitche Workes from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, offering everything from covered wooden thread spools and show-special kits to cross-stitch designs resembling Elizabethan crewelwork.  A free “Flower Frolic” cross stitch pattern was ours for the taking. I could have taken up permanent residence in the Truffle Pigs booth, stocked with passementerie like antique decorative trims made from chenille, braided velvet and handmade eyelet.  Buttons, from wooden ones in the shape of hats to antique celluloid bouquets of flowers, were cleverly presented on hand-collaged cards.

Tiny emery cushions to park pins and needles were fashioned from hand-dyed velvet and filled with sand to resemble pineapples, peaches, turnips, strawberries and more “produce.” These ladies root out the good stuff, indeed!

Even non-stitchers could find unique pre-made treasures, like handcrafted Shaker-style oval wooden boxes, vintage crystal salt cellars, distressed furniture and porcelain teacups-turned-pincushions.

Posted in Needlework | Leave a comment

“Hot Topix”: The Five-Finger Rule, Six Practices And Seven Habits

Orange wine. Space operas. “All the feels.” Pottermore. Enid Blyton and Margery Sharp. Just Being Audrey and Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, A Kitten and 10,000 Miles. The 53rd Street branch of the New York Public Library and the Lowline underground park.

These are just some of the nifty discoveries I’ve made since tuning in to “The Librarian Is In,” the New York Public Library’s terrific podcast about books, culture and what to read next. Gwen Glazer and Frank Collerius, librarians who host the podcast, compare notes on what’s turning their pages — something they’re excited about, that inspires them, or makes them laugh. They share what they’re reading, discuss “hot topix” related to books and reading, and interview guests who read a favorite passage from a book and give Frank and Gwen hints as they try to guess the title.  You have to hear it!

I said a mental thank-you to Frank and Gwen when I stepped inside the Library Media Center at Griffith Thomas Elementary School and spotted a poster and a whole section of shelving devoted to Erin Hunter’s Warriors books, a series following the adventures of four clans of wild cats that a young reader recommended in Episode 17 of the podcast.

The Dublin, Ohio library was the first stop on this summer’s lineup of special library tours organized by the Central Ohio chapter of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (CO-ASIS&T).  Megan Dimmerling, library media specialist, showed us around the place she calls home on school days.

A local artist executed Megan’s vision of bringing the outside in by painting the walls the color of grass, the sky, and the sun.  A Dr. Seuss quote and framed illustrations by artists like Tomie dePaola who have visited the school add special finishing touches.

Teachers and staff can experiment with the library’s makerspace, a do-it-yourself resource for designing and creating.  Students can browse reference books, nonfiction works, fiction for readers in grades 3-5, and books for everyone to enjoy. Graphic novels and books featuring Star Wars and Disney characters are shelved in their own special sections. Popular series like the Magic Tree House books are housed in baskets, which hold special appeal for young readers.  There’s even a dedicated area for Japanese-language books donated by Japanese families. “Time for an American Girl binge-read,” I reminded myself as I paged through a recent issue of one of my favorite magazines.

Every four days, Megan spends 45 minutes with each class of children in Kindergarten through fifth grade. To make the most of their time together, Megan teaches these 800-plus students how to find things on their own through hands-on learning activities that foster independence.

They also have fun along the way. Since a school library serves a different function than a classroom library — it’s a place where students can read for pleasure and check out whatever they want — these young readers participate in innovative activities to inspire a lifelong love of reading. Students in grades 3-5 can decorate a pumpkin as their favorite book character in the Great Pumpkin Character Contest. For a small donation, students who sign up for the Birthday Book Club can check out a new book, have their name placed in that book, have their picture taken holding the book, and receive a small toy. The class with the greatest percentage of club participants is treated to a party at the end of the school year. Make reading the reward — that’s the motto of this library media center.

I left thinking about three “Hot Topix”: the Five-Finger Rule; the Six Practices of Thinkers; and the Seven Habits of Happy Kids, all in practice at Thomas Elementary School.

To find a “just-right” book with the five-finger rule, a young reader chooses a book and reads the first page or two. She puts one finger up for every word she doesn’t know. If five of her fingers go up while reading, she should choose another book. If only two or three fingers go up while reading, she’s found a just-right book.

Ask questions; collaborate; create and innovate; persevere; think flexibly; and present ideas confidently are the Six Practices of Thinkers. And Sean Covey’s 7 Habits of Happy Kids are: Be proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; synergize; and “sharpen the saw,” a clever way to say “take care of yourself.”  

To learn more about school librarianship, join me in checking out New on the Job: A School Librarian’s Guide to Success, by Hilda K. Weisburg and Ruth Toor.

Posted in Books, Libraries | Leave a comment

Battelle Darby Creek Park’s Naturalists Know How To Throw My Kind Of Kentucky Derby Party

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything,” William Shakespeare mused.  Here on Riverglen Drive, the last week of April always puts my neighbors in the spirit of partying.

It begins with the huge truckload of mulch dumped in their driveway, at which they shovel away as the week progresses. The garage is emptied and scrubbed down to be transformed into a bar, complete with walk-up order window and tip jar. At least one round of grass-mowing follows. Finally, a Rent-A-Center truck arrives on the first Saturday in May, unloading a massive LED high-definition television that will project a stunning picture and superb sound for gussied-up hosts and guests alike to watch “The Greatest Two Minutes in Racing.”

Yes, it’s time once more for the annual Kentucky Derby party next door that I attend vicariously. This year, however, I’ll take my place at my bedroom window swigging a mint julep mocktail and sporting a one-of-a-kind fascinator, both souvenirs of the fabulous Kentucky Derby Day party I attended last Sunday afternoon at Battelle Darby Creek Park.

Park naturalists and volunteers threw my kind of party — historic artifacts to admire, fun crafts to make, and tasty themed treats to eat. It was the perfect way to anticipate the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Derby has taken place in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday of May every year since 1875. The race occurs on an oval-shaped, mile-long dirt track at Churchill Downs, so named for the uncles of the race’s founder, Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., who provided the land for the racetrack. During the Derby, 20 three-year-old thoroughbred horses run one and one-quarter times around the track at speeds topping 35 miles an hour.

Battelle Darby Creek Park was the perfect location for the party. Franklin County Metro Parks’ largest property consists of some parcels of land that once were part of Darby Dan Farm, the estate on old Route 40 in Galloway that was the home of the late John W. Galbreath from 1935 until his death at age 90 in 1988. He named the farm after his son, Daniel M. Galbreath, and the Big Darby Creek, which runs across the land.

The farm is a local landmark, easily spotted by nearly 40 miles of white-painted fencing that borders it. For decades, Galbreath provided many students with summer fence-painting jobs.

Born the son of a Pickaway County farmer, Galbreath graduated from Ohio University in 1920. Four years later, he started his own real estate company, buying and rehabilitating company housing near mines and mills and selling them to workers. In the decades that followed, Galbreath became one of the country’s top real estate developers, making millions as he changed the face of skylines both in Columbus and beyond.

Galbreath was also the grandfather of Dianne Phillips Albrecht, my super-cool third-grade teacher at Columbus School for Girls, whose platform sandals were the envy of the “short people” she taught.  

Galbreath was a community philanthropist, as well as an avid sportsman. During his 40-year ownership of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1946 until 1985, the team won the World Series three times.

Starting in the 1930s, Galbreath bred and trained thoroughbred horses at Darby Dan Farm. President Gerald Ford and Britain’s Princess Margaret visited the farm to see Galbreath’s thoroughbreds.

One of those thoroughbreds was Chateaugay, the winner of the 1963 Kentucky Derby. That same year, Chateaugay won the Belmont Stakes, the third of three races that make up the Triple Crown. Another Galbreath horse, Proud Clarion, won the 1967 Kentucky Derby.

Chateaugay and Galbreath’s 1963 Kentucky Derby trophy was on display during the park’s party. The 22-inch-tall trophy sits on a base made of jade and weighs 56 ounces. Topped by a horse and rider, the trophy is decorated with 12 emeralds and 50 rubies, as well as an 18-karat gold horseshoe.

Darby Dan Farm’s current manager was on hand to talk about the farm and its Derby history. Other memorabilia displayed included the fawn and brown jockey silks of Darby Dan Farm…

and scrapbooks filled with photos and news articles of the Galbreaths and their prizewinning horses.

Best of all was the archival film footage of the 1963 Kentucky Derby. We watched fashionable hat-wearing fans singing “My Old Kentucky Home” and enjoying the traditional fare of mint juleps and burgoo, a thick stew made of beef, chicken, pork and vegetables; the traditional blanket of red roses being placed over Chateaugay; and Galbreath joining Chateaugay, his jockey and his trainer in the winner’s circle to receive the trophy and cash purse.

Partygoers sipped on mint julep mocktails in which ginger ale replaced the bourbon, and snacked on “Darby Tea Sandwiches” made with cream cheese, sweet onion, cucumber and redbud flowers.

Children could make horse puppets…

and anyone could whip up a clever hat.  My mother and I were presented with miniature trophies for our creations.

For decades, the Galbreath family has helped to preserve a large portion of land in the Darby Valley. They donated some of the land to Franklin County Metro Parks; the park system also purchased portions of additional land to create Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. Today, the park includes more than 7,000 acres of forests, restored wetlands and prairies, bluffs, ponds and streams, including more than 17 miles of the Big and Little Darby Creeks, which have been designated as both State Scenic Rivers and National Wild & Scenic Rivers. The creeks are home to about 100 species of fish, five of which are endangered or threatened in Ohio, and more than 40 species of mussels, ten of which are endangered. Abundant wildlife can also be seen at the park, from great-horned owls, weasels and flying squirrels to wild turkeys, white-tailed deer and the endangered Indiana bat. Bison (both real and one fashioned from metal) also roam the hillsides in an area of the park near Big Darby Creek, as they used to do centuries ago.

This place is so special, unique and diverse that the Nature Conservancy named it “one of the last great places in the Western Hemisphere,” a sign near the Nature Center stated.

This weekend, Battelle Darby Creek Park is hosting the Ohio Folk Music Festival. Numerous concerts, dance instruction and participation, free children’s activities and over 45 teaching workshops on everything from playing guitar, banjo and fiddle to writing songs, will be held both Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7.

Posted in Animals, Columbus, Food, History, Nature/Outdoors | Leave a comment

If You Want To See A Beautiful Building, Stop In At Robert J. Kraus’s Hamlet Street Church

Ask me about Walter Gropius, and I’ll gush about the glass curtain walls and floating balconies that he fashioned for the Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany. Mention Frank Lloyd Wright, and I’ll rattle on about the magnificent wisteria-mosaic fireplace that he designed for the Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, New York. Say Eero Saarinen’s name, and I’ll tell you how I want to see the sunken seating area of the living room of the Miller House that he created in Columbus, Indiana.

But had you inquired whether I knew who designed the church that I admire every morning on my way to work, the school at 2010 E. Broad St., and the Columbus retreat center that was one of the first institutions in the United States to be named in honor of St. Therese of Lisieux, you would have heard crickets. Unspeakable!

Sure, it’s good to know a few fun facts about the work of noted architects, but it’s better to uncover something about lesser-known creators of buildings, especially those right under my nose. The Catholic Record Society helped me begin to fix that.

The society searches out, preserves and makes available historical materials about events, people, organizations and places in Ohio that are associated with the Diocese of Columbus. For its recent winter meeting, it convened at Sacred Heart Church, in Ryan Hall, named for Monsignor James M. Ryan, who served as the administrator of the parish from 1919 until his death in 1944. The focus of the meeting was “The Churches of Robert J. Kraus,” a presentation given by his son, James E. Kraus.

Kraus (1887-1972) hailed from Akron, Ohio. At 14, he became an apprentice to an architect and began producing remarkable architectural drawings, including one of a vaulted vestibule he drew as a teenager that the younger Kraus shared with the group. After studying architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Kraus embarked upon a 70-year career, during which he designed about 150 churches, schools and houses.

Kraus’s earliest church commissions were for Holy Cross in Glouster, Ohio and St. Bernard in Corning, Ohio, both in 1915. He turned his attention to Sacred Heart Church in Columbus in 1922.

Sacred Heart’s website reveals much about its history.  The parish traces its history to around 1852, when a Lancaster, Ohio resident willed four acres of land bounded by Summit Street, First Avenue, Hamlet Street and Second Avenue (in the Columbus neighborhood now known as Italian Village) to the Diocese of Cincinnati (Columbus was a part of that diocese then), with the stipulation that the land was to be used for religious and educational purposes.

In 1875, Bishop Sylvester Rosecrans, the first bishop of the Diocese of Columbus, established Sacred Heart Parish, the first parish in the Diocese to have defined boundaries. Bishop Rosecrans also authorized construction of buildings for the parish that would house a school, a hall large enough to be used as a church, and rooms for the Sisters of St. Francis, who were to teach there. The following year, the project was completed, the new church was dedicated, and the school opened.

As Sacred Heart’s congregation grew, so did its home. In 1877, a pastoral residence was added to its sound end, while a convent for the Sisters was built on its north end in 1886. The year 1892 saw the opening of Sacred Heart High School, a two-year high school for boys and girls that continued until 1905, when the boys were transferred to the new St. Patrick’s College, and Sacred Heart Commercial School was established for girls in 1908, holding classes there until 1957. During those early years of the 20th century, my great-great grandparents, Mariann and Daniel O’Connor, became parishioners of Sacred Heart and worshiped there with their four children.

In July 1919, Bishop James Hartley commissioned the building of a new church and rectory for the parish. By 1922, over $50,000 had been collected in a building fund, Kraus was hired to draw the plans, and construction began. On Thanksgiving Day 1923, the new church was dedicated.

The Tudor Gothic structure is 155 feet long, 80 feet wide and 52 feet high, with a 105-feet-high bell tower and a small chapel. It seats almost 800 people.

“If you want to see a beautiful building, stop in at the Church of the Sacred Heart at the corner of Hamlet Street and First Avenue,” wrote W. L. Graves, professor of English at The Ohio State University, in the January 15, 1924 issue of the Ohio State Lantern. “…The church has a perfect unity of effect, a beautiful serenity and dignity of design that makes worship there, one feels, a memorable experience.”

The interior features Kraus-designed railings that were reproduced in regalico, an imitation marble product that was manufactured by Daprato of Chicago, now known as Daprato Rigati Studios. Round columns of Caen stone line the nave and the confessional booths were carved from oak. Beautiful stained glass windows and a ceiling deserving close attention complete the picture.

The church also has fine acoustics, as Father Kevin Lutz demonstrated, both in song and at the console of its organ. Made by the Jackson Pipe Organ Company of Chester, Illinois circa 1880, the organ was once housed at St. Joseph Cathedral and is one of only four such Jackson organs known to exist today.

Other church commissions followed for Kraus, including St. John’s in Bellaire (1923); St. Charles Seminary in Columbus (1924), now known as St. Charles Preparatory School; Sacred Heart in New Philadelphia (1927); St. Therese’s Retreat Center in Columbus (1931); St. Mary’s School in Lancaster (1928); Blessed Sacrament in Newark (1942); and St. Agatha and St. Philip the Apostle, both constructed in Columbus in 1962.

The Catholic Record Society will meet next in May, then in September. For more information, click here.

Posted in Architecture, Churches, Columbus, History | 3 Comments