Ohio Village has everything I need to live a very contented life. I’d reside in the house at the end of the boardwalk, across from the schoolhouse. There’s a study club where I could participate in book discussions, a newspaper I could write for, an emporium for shopping, and a place to keep my bicycle in good working order. I’d frequent the pharmacy, the bank and the church, all conveniently located around the village square, where I’d listen to concerts on summer evenings. I’d treat myself to a meal at the American House Hotel. And I could sit for another photographic portrait to feature on my Christmas card.
Since 1974, that’s the conclusion I’ve reached every time I’ve visited the Ohio History Connection’s Ohio Village. Recently, I’ve added something to my very clear vision of what life would be like there.
In my spare time, I’d make doorstops.
The doors to many of Ohio Village’s homes and businesses are propped open with a spectacular lineup of textile-covered brick doorstops handmade by volunteers. Here are a few of my favorites.
At the Burton House, where I’d live, there’s one with needlepoint butterflies.
Find this crewel one at the Taylor House, where I also tried some tasty hand-cranked ice cream during the village’s July 4 celebration.
There are two at the Schmidt House and Garden: a quilted one at the door leading from the bedroom to the side yard…
and one with cross-stitched roses at the front door.
Best of all is this bicycle-themed one at Barrington Bicycles.
“There are so many doors to open. I am impatient to begin,” Daniel Keyes wrote in Flowers for Algernon. In my case, there are so many doorstops to make, I’m impatient to begin.
If, like me, you’re interested in creating your own Ohio Village doorstop, volunteer Joby Easley says they’re really easy to make. First, she covers the brick with something thick, like leftover quilt batting or an old mattress pad. To make small, even stitches when sewing, use a curved needle and a regular hem stitch. Make the first seam along the long bottom side of the brick at the edge so there isn’t a bump running down the center of the bottom of the stop. Then sew up the ends like you’re wrapping a package. You might have to cut off extra material at the ends to make them less bulky. The cover fabric is put on the same way, only you can put that first seam in the middle if you want; it’s thin enough, so it won’t leave a bump.
This summer, it’s a whole new era at Ohio Village, as it portrays what life might have been like in Ohio during the 1890s. This is the decade that saw Ohioan William McKinley defeat his rival, William Jennings Bryan, in becoming president of the United States, and the University of Michigan defeat the Ohio State University with a humiliating 34-0 in the first football game between the schools.
Visit Ohio Village to try “fairy floss” and ride in a replica 1903 Ford Model A, but I’d suggest keeping an eye out for “Columbia.” Inspired by this image from the June 15, 1898 issue of Puck, this symbolic character representing the United States was most often portrayed as wearing a classically draped garment decorated with stars, red and white stripes and topped off with a headdress.
The next time I dress up for Halloween, it will be as Columbia.
Visit Ohio Village for some 1890s family fun all summer long. Try on 1890s fashion on July 22; indulge your sweet tooth on August 12; and experience Ohio’s military history on August 26. Hear live music, explore the village, play games on the green, and bring a picnic or enjoy dinner from a local food vendor for two Thursday-evening concerts at Ohio Village: Irish folk music with The Drowsy Lads on July 20 and folk music with Bohemian Highway on August 17. Ohio Village is open on weekends until Labor Day.
If you go, pick up a copy of the Ohio Village scavenger hunt at the Ohio History Center’s welcome desk and let me know if you can answer these two questions. What animal can you find in The American House Hotel? If you found the Ohio State Fair poster from 1895, what days will the fair be in Columbus?