Cincinnati – April 2015 – Roadside America attractions

Our Roadside America tours continued with a trip to Cincinnati. After stopping at a contemporary furniture store we went to Loveland Castle.

Chateau LaRoche is the official name of Loveland Castle. It is a museum high on a bluff overlooking the Little Miami River. It is built as a faux European Castle, built by Harry Andrews starting in 1929. It’s name means ‘Rock Castle’ in French.

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For over fifty years, Andrews worked on his castle project. He pulled stones from the nearby Little Miami River, and when that supply was exhausted, molded bricks with cement and quart milk cartons.

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While visiting the Hyde Park area of Cincinnati we had the opportunity to check out the Beehive, or sometimes Mushroom House. This colorful and quirky one-bedroom, one-bathroom home in looks like it’s been plucked straight out of a Tim Burton movie. With a spiraling, neon-orange staircase, curved walls, psychedelic stained glass, circular steel steps and anthropomorphic window shapes, this crazy-beautiful this Pixar-esque home is known by the mushroom house name due to its unique siding that perfectly resembles the underside of a mushroom. Personally I think perched on the steep hillside it looks more like a beehive.

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The home was built by architect Terry Brown, who spent over a decade creating the unusual home with 35 of his former students from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Every inch of the 1,260-square-foot Mushroom House is decked out in either wood, colored glass, shell or ceramics. In fact, it’s engulfed in so many different colors, shapes and textures, it’s less of a house than it is a work of art.

After a brief detour through downtown Cincinnati to scope out a used furniture store, we started back north, stopping in the suburb of Glendale.

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Since the 1940s, the Glendale has had a population of black squirrels, paints its fire trucks black, features fiberglass squirrel statues, a dead stuffed black squirrel that is official greeter at the Village Office. As a tribute their public art is a collection of themed and brightly painted squirrels throughout the town.

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With it being lunch time we stopped in a faux British pub called the Cock and Bull. They had standard fair bar food, and a baseball game on TV so it in no way felt like England, but it was good enough, and it wasn’t fast food.

The city of Fairfield is about 30 miles from downtown Cincinnati, way out in the suburbs, but it is the home of Jungle Jim’s International Market. A quirky, massive 300,000 square foot market, the store has many specialty items in the Asian and European departments. We came home with British biscuits and a sugar cane (literally a complete 4′ long sugar cane)

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The theme park feel continues with the variety of displays, including some animatronics. Subtle humor is injected into many parts of the store, such as the trashcans once labeled “Jungle Junk,” the “Adult Oriented Hot Sauces” section, and the restroom entrances disguised as portable toilets. In 2007, the restrooms won the Cintas Best Restroom in America contest.

The trip north continued with a stop in nearby Hamilton, where the high school has a creepy looking collection of statues of children and teachers with George Bush, as a tribute to the ‘No Child Left Behind’ program.

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Finally near the small town of Carlisle is a Futuro House, a round, prefabrocated house designed by Finnish architect Matti Sunronen, of which fewer than 100 were built during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The distinctive flying saucer like shape and airplane hatch entrance has made the houses popular among collectors. The Futuro is composed of fiberglass-reinforced polyester plastic, polyester-polyurethane, and poly, measuring 13 feet high and 26 feet in diameter. The house in Carlisle is two of them connected together.

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